Before I started Raise Healthy Eaters (now MaryannJacobsen.com), I briefly had a website called Do it Yourself Nutrition. While searching for article ideas, I ran across a study examining what motivates women to maintain exercise. I interviewed the author of the study, Michelle Segar, PhD, and we’ve been in contact ever since. She feels the same way about physical activity that I do about nutrition. It should be an enjoyable, irreplaceable part of one’s life instead of a chore that is riddled with self-doubt and guilt.
No Sweat: How the Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness is filled with the fascinating research of motivation that explains why some people maintain healthy habits and others don’t. As a dietitian who tries to positively impact people to make healthy choices, this resonates with me. Most can muster up the motivation to start exercise, but few experience the type of motivation that keeps them going.
No Sweat helps readers realize that their motivation to exercise is directly related to why they do it. I fact, the most de-motivating why’s are the ones we all are all familiar with: I need to exercise for my health…I need to look good in a swimsuit this summer…I need to lose weight…I need to age well. In this two-minute video, Michelle explains why all of this results in what she calls the “vicious cycle of failure.”
The book helps people create lasting change by going through the MAPS process. First readers will think about the Meaning exercise has in their life and whether it’s helping or harming their current efforts. For example, someone who exercises to lose weight may find they always stop when their weight plateaus. But someone who exercises because it helps them sleep better and be more productive is more likely to do it even on the tough days. Awareness is the process that helps readers turn negative beliefs and wrong whys into new, more motivating ways to think about exercise.
Next, she helps readers give themselves Permission to put their well being and self-care at the top of the list. This is exactly what holds so many parents back — putting their kids’ and partner’s self-care before their own. The last part is the actual doing or Strategy to help people develop a realistic plan of action. This is all about small steps that work with a person’s life instead of against it.
When it comes to exercise, after having kids, I’ve found parents tend to fall into one of these three categories:
-Still loving it: Exercise is really important to me. It’s changed after having kids but I still do it and have found it really helps me not just be a better parent, but get more done!
-Used to love it: I used to love exercise but with all the demands on me, it just isn’t a priority. Every time I get back into it my crazy life always sucks me away.
-Never really loved it: I never loved to exercise so now that I have kids it never seems to happen. I have times where I’ll start it back up but any excuse and I’m out of there.
No Sweat is a must-read for anyone who desires lifelong fitness but is challenged by the craziness of life. It’s also perfect for health professionals working with clients on changing their habits. It will completely transform the way you look at healthy habits, making them less about willpower and more about how they make your life better. I will recommend this book again and again!
Don’t miss my podcast interview with Michelle Segar on Sustainable Behavior Change.