Shayne on You: Get active and fight depression

Dear Maggie,

I have recently retired and had such great plans for getting in shape, but I just canít seem to get on a schedule.† I just want to sleep all day.† I hate†to exercise and I know I need to.† I need to cook healthier†for both my husband and I,† but†my part-time job takes up too much time.† Iím not just making excuses,†well, maybe I am.† But I seem to be busier than I was when I was working, and the day goes by so fast. Thus, I get tired.† Itís a vicious circle!†

†Do you have any tips†for motivation and fitting everything in?†

†Retired and Tired††

Dear Retired and Tired,

Motivation is the toughest part of the entire equation, so youíve asked what is probably the best health & fitness related question that can be asked. How do you motivate yourself? How do you get off the couch and move, when every cell in your body is urging you to just curl up a little more and pull the covers over your head, and watch just one more episode of the Monk Marathon on USA.

I know, believe me. Iím there, often. But itís usually something a little bit bigger than lack of motivation keeping me curled up like a boiled shrimp, as one of my favorite writers once put it. Itís usually, if I examine it, something a little closer to depression. When all you want to do is lie around, it can indicate a problem, so look carefully at that and make sure youíre okay in that regard.

The irony is the cure for depression is to get active. So whether youíre depressed or just tired and unmotivated, the goal is the same. Get up and get moving and get out.

Try not to think of having to exercise. Exercise is such a negative sounding word. There are lots of other ways to get some activity into your life besides a regimented routine of walking or videos. (Although I absolutely adore Richard Simmons Ė have you tried him? No one can be inactive or depressed with that guy on the TV screen!) There are other tricks too. Always park in the spot farthest from the entrance of whatever store youíre visiting. Always take the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator. Put your office upstairs and your coffee pot downstairs. We tend to automatically do things in our daily lives that save us steps. Shift that mind set to adding steps instead.

Try not to think of dieting. Dieting doesnít work. And itís regimented, leaves you feeling deprived, which is more depressing. Just try cutting portions at first. Then gradually you can substitute the very worst things you tend to eat, for better options. (For me thatís getting rid of the mayonnaise. I love the stuff and if itís in the house, would eat it on everything. And I canít stand the light stuff, either!) Switch out the butter for a healthier spread. Switch out the whole milk for skim. All the stuff I put in last weekís column. One by one, and only the ones you can live with.

Motivation needs a clearer definition, a clearer understanding, so try thinking of it this way. Motivation means ďgetting happy.Ē If you can do the things that never fail to put you into a great mood, youíll be helping your motivation more than you know. When you feel good, you just have more energy, more life force, more empowerment. So find those things that always make you feel upbeat and do them whenever youíre feeling down trodden. For me itís music. I hit that Ipod, and before I know it, Iím feeling energized. There are also some motivational CDs that work for me. These are things you can do on your way to and from that part time job, so you arrive home feeling energized. Fill your home and car with scents cush as cinnamon, ginger and other ďhotĒ spices. This is aromatherapy and is quite helpful.

As for the temptation to eat unhealthily, the answer for that is the same for you as it is for all addicts. Some canít have vodka in the house. Some canít have mayonnaise in the house. And some just canít have junk food in the house. If you only buy the stuff thatís good for you, if thatís the only thing you can find when you open your cupboards or fridge, then you have no choice by to eat healthy! So take a day off, and overhaul your kitchen, tossing everything that is bad for you, especially those foods you know you canít eat in moderation.

Again, I highly recommend Weight Watchers. I think more people have had success in taking off weight and keeping it off long term on that program than on any other. Itís so worthwhile.

Oh, if you want daily motivation and discussion of this very subject you can subscribe to my health and fitness email discussion list by sending a blank email to:

Good luck!


Remember, everyone who sends me a letter for the column gets entered into the drawing for a an autographed copy of my upcoming novel, LOVERíS BITE, on sale in May (but the winner gets theirs in April!)

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