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Wellness and Personal Development

Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Exercise: Building the "Can Do" Muscle

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Jun 15th 2012

exerciseTen years ago U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson released the report on World Health Day that 60% of people don’t regularly exercise and many don’t exercise at all. 10 years later Michelle Obama has made it her personal campaign to fight against obesity. The fact remains, exercise is one of the greatest natural stress reducers we have and is wonderful for our health. Some might say the problem lies with self control. How do we strengthen the "can do" muscle of personal self control to remove the mental obstacle and make exercise a part of daily life? 

Think about it, when building a muscle, you want to start small and then build up from there. The fact is, you can do almost anything to build the muscle of self control. Start by noticing when you’re slouching at work and choosing to sit up straight. Practice eating dinner a few times a week without the TV on and talking to your partner instead. Or if you’re bold try getting up in the morning a little earlier.  A popular one I like to bring up is scheduling in your calendar a couple 3-minute breathing spaces throughout your day where you become present as you simply tune into your breath coming in and out of your body.

Here’s a short one to get started:

You can do anything you want; the point is just to make self control a part of your daily life. Then, when you feel you’ve got a bit of self control as a routine, begin to slowly integrate exercise when you feel the time is right. 

You can even practice intentionally releasing any need for control at times as long as you’re not hurting yourself or another. 

Remember, support can be critical in getting over the inertia of exercise. You can choose to hire a personal trainer or get a work out buddy, but remember, at the end of the day, making self control a part of your daily life is up to you. If your trainer or buddy is sick and you rely on them for this support, your practice will likely begin to slip as well.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 


Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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