Getting motivated to become physically active isn’t always easy. But it is rewarding and can result in countless health improvements, discussed experts at the May Speaker Series, Get Moving! The Power of Physical Activity. At the event, one doctor shared his journey on how he lost his sedentary ways, and 50 pounds in the process.
Dr. Kevin Imrie has a busy life. As physician-in-chief in the Department of Medicine at Sunnybrook, his days are jam packed with clinical duties. In the past, he says nutrition and physical activity fell by the wayside, and the few attempts made to turn his lifestyle around didn’t stick. He was caring for others, but not enough for himself.
“I got busy with other things and it was always New Years Resolutions that would last until January 4,” he says.
But after celebrating his 50th birthday at 210 pounds, something shifted. He remembered his own father not being able to enjoy his retirement and senior years due to health issues. “I wanted to feel better,” says Dr. Imrie. “I thought, if I’m going to do it, this is the time. So I made the commitment.”
Dr. Imrie joined a running group, and set the goal of getting fit enough to finish a half marathon, even if that meant taking a long time to complete it or walking across the finish line. He joked that it was a goal he could say he reached and wouldn’t ever have to do again. But in a happy turn, he found running fun, and the camaraderie of training even better. One half-marathon turned into several full marathons, a triathlon and a half iron man. He’s still going.
“I realize some people may think that’s excessive and I’m crazy, and how is this relevant to me?” But he says at a certain point, moving from one race level to another isn’t the hard part. What is difficult, he says, is making that initial move to get physically active in the first place. For anyone looking to make that first step away from the couch, he believes the things he learned along his own journey can apply to everyone:
Set specific and reasonable goals:
Be realistic so you won’t lose your momentum. You can always move the bar higher when you reach your first goal.
Know that just because it didn’t work the last time – or the time before that — doesn’t mean it won’t work this time. Try a different approach, but don’t give up.
Make your commitment public:
Tell friends, family or anyone who will listen. Public accountability can help you make your goals a reality.
Keep a journal or use an app to track your progress over time. It helps to see patterns to best build on your next success.
Make exercise a priority:
Everyone is busy, so schedule in time for physical activity. Say no to other things if you have to.
Reap the social benefits:
Joining a running class, gym or other active group will expose you to like-minded people. You may find the social benefits are just as valuable as the physical ones.