“No Sweat” Author Dr. Michelle Segar
In March of 2015, I realized that I was spending a lot of time in front of my computer and not enough time moving my body. I felt sluggish and stiff, but I lacked motivation to go to the gym and spend the time it takes to do long workouts.
I decided to challenge myself to move my body every day in ways I enjoyed for whatever length of time felt good to me. I documented some of my activities on Instagram and used the hashtag #movemybody.
I varied the kinds of activities I did, making sure it felt enjoyable and not like a chore I had to get done. I took a 2.5 mile walk while listening to music, swam laps, completed a kids’ yoga program on TV with Marissa, tried the 7 minute workout app, cleaned my house, danced, stretched, and worked out at home.
Later that same month, my sister told me that her friend, Michelle, was getting ready to publish a book about exercise and motivation called No Sweat.
Because she’s my sister’s friend (and a subscriber to my blog since 2013!), she agreed to give me an advance copy. I devoured the book and started telling everyone about it right away.
Dr. Michelle Segar is a motivation scientist and the author of No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness. She directs the Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center at the University of Michigan and chairs the U.S. National Physical Activity Plan’s Communications Committee.
Her expertise in both research and real-world coaching with individuals has made her a sought-after expert and keynote speaker who is frequently featured in major media like The New York Times, O Magazine, and Prevention. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology and Master’s degrees in Health Behavior/Health Education and Kinesiology. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband and 7-year-old son.
Michelle’s approach to exercise parallels my own philosophy about self-care, so I invited her to be my first-ever guest blogger and share her wisdom with you. Her book was published last month and is already #3 in Exercise and Fitness on Amazon! Without further ado, please welcome Michelle to the blog…
SELF-CARE: SECRETS AND SMALL STEPS
by Dr. Michelle Segar
“I know I’m out of shape, but I don’t have time to workout… ”
“Join a gym? Kind of expensive. After taking care of school supplies, camp, kids’ clothes – and food! – any extra money we have goes to vacation, not to me.”
“I’ll be honest, I just feel uncomfortable putting my needs ahead of my kids’ needs.”
Like me, many of my clients are moms. And most of them have come to me lamenting their lack of time for self-care. They also tell me they feel guilty when they take time away from their families and from work for a self-care behavior like exercise. And virtually all of them feel that to get the most out of self-care, they have to spend money on a gym, a diet program, special food and clothes. Here’s secret #1: Prioritizing your own self-care is essential, not only for your own health and well-being, it fuels you to be present for the people and work you value most.
It is very strategic—and not at all selfish!—to take time for self-care. You already know that when you feel rested and positive, you approach your day and accomplish tasks very differently than when you feel tired and dragged out. The benefits of self-care are enormous: you feel better, you stay healthier, you improve your mood, you have more energy for everyone, and you adjust more quickly when life throws you the inevitable curve ball.
You do have the time, and you can afford it. Because here’s secret #2: Even a few minutes of physical movement that you give yourself as a gift will start to make you feel better.
As moms, we juggle a lot. Most of us don’t have the time it takes to do a forty-minute intense workout every day, or even three days a week. Fortunately, and probably counter to everything you believe, it’s not necessary. Start small and do what is realistic and enjoyable. In this way, you will start to learn how to integrate self-care behaviors into your life in a way that you can sustain. (For more on my approach, see Jane Brody’s New York Times blog post and check out my book No Sweat).
Here are four very easy ways to get started.
1. Do a one-minute workout anytime. Every bit of exercise you do counts, and no matter how busy you are, everybody has at least one extra minute in her day. When you have one, use it to do whatever movement feels best and most convenient at that moment: stand up and sit down for one minute, do some stretching, walk to the break room (yes, it counts), close your office or bedroom door and dance to your personal music . . . it’s your choice.
2. Play with your kids! Do you find yourself marveling at how much energy your children have? You can benefit from playtime, too. Play physical games, have a jumping contest, or race around the park. I love walking to the grocery store while my seven-year-old rides along with me on his bike.
3. Use stairs any way you like. You can use the stairs in your house, your office, your doctor’s office, or a store to create energy for yourself. Do some intervals by walking a few steps and then running a few steps. Or do “stepping” on just two step for thirty seconds to a minute. If you’re the only person using the stairs, you might even get in a few push-ups. Get creative any time you feel like a break.
4. Give yourself credit for all the physical movement you already do, and brainstorm ways to add more. Pushing a shopping cart around a big box store, walking your dog, walking your child to school, doing housework, walking from the parking lot or train station to your office, strolling around and window shopping at lunch . . . take every opportunity to move, and add it to your total. The beauty is that you can gift yourself movement whenever you want.
Thank you so much, Michelle! For more information about Dr. Segar and her work, visit MichelleSegar.com
Now I’d like to hear from you. What’s one way you’re going to move your body this week? Let me know in the comments below!
I love this! I haven’t really viewed playing a soccer game with my kids as a workout but it is!! I get so tired after!
Such great tips!
I love the simplicity of one minute work outs and then giving myself credit for it!
I signed up for a 15 day yoga pass 9 days ago, so far I have been once and have been beating myself up over it. I will get back on the wagon, but it’s nice to have some other simple strategies to incorporate into every day life. Thanks.
Ugh, Suzy. I know that feeling of beating myself up over not working out, especially when I’ve paid for a class. Maybe if you start small by doing some one-minute workouts, you’ll find the motivation to go back to yoga.
This was such a great post. I hate sweating. Seriously. This feels like such a wonderful non-shaming book about motivation and movement. I so appreciate that. Thank you for sharing this resource and I look forward to reading more!
Hey Megan! I seriously hate sweating, too. Yes, this is definitely a no-shame book. It’s actually really motivating and empowering!
I’m going to join in the dances my students are learning from a colleague at their acting workshop thus week. Thanks for this uplifting post and guest blog. So good to give myself credit for all I already do!
Yes! That’s exactly the point, Denise. All the little things add up and really matter. Have fun dancing!
Back when I was working as a lawyer (about 12 years ago or so), I found myself waiting for court to open one morning. I was waiting on one side of the hall for civil court, and on the other side of the hall was a group of men chained to one another in orange jumpsuits, waiting for hearings in criminal court. These men had a lot of experience waiting around in line, and they used the time to get in a workout! They were doing pushups against the wall, and going up and down on their toes, and I watched. After a while, I was bored, and so I started lifting my brief bag up and down, doing bicep curls with it. One of the men started talking to me, and showed me a bunch of other things I could do. I had a mini training session in how to work out while standing in line waiting for that courtroom to open. This guy showed me how to do different push ups against a wall (I even took off my shoes to do it while he told me to hold myself straighter), how to do calf exercises on one foot, going up and down on my toes, and different arm exercises with my brief bag. When they opened the doors, I wished him luck and he went into his courtroom, and I went into mine. After that, whenever I got into the elevator at my office I put my bag down and did 12 pushups (that’s how many I could do from the lobby to my floor). I only did it when I was alone in there. I do the calf exercises in line at the grocery store still.
That’s such an awesome story, Beth, and it illustrates Dr. Segar’s points that you don’t need a lot of money or time to fit movement into your life. And because it’s enjoyable and manageable, you’re still doing some of the exercises 12 years later! Love it.