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From Guilt Cycle to Bicycle: Lose the Rules & Just Exercise!

What are the first three words that come to your mind when you think “exercise?”

Many people would write words like, boring, time-consuming, expensive. But when it comes to exercise, the most important questions people ask are, “How can I make exercise fun? What can I do that is so enjoyable that I’ll look forward to doing it day after day, week after week, year after year?

Exercise must be fully compatible with you and your personality. If you hate to run, don’t run, because if you hate it, you won’t do it. If a sweaty, inconvenient five-day-a-week regimen in a local fitness club is not for you, don’t do it.Exercise is not about feeling guilty for what you can’t — or choose not to — do.

The guiltier you feel, the less exercise you will do, and the less exercise you do, the guiltier you will feel, and your guilt cycle will produce depression, confusion, and anger to the point where your entire system may simply close down. The solution: Do what is right for you.

Choose an activity that is fun. For many people, the best initial exercise program is simply to walk. Walking requires no expensive club dues, no unique clothing or special shoes, no time limits, no stop watches, no subscriptions to fitness magazines, no nothing. With walking there are also no excuses. If it’s hot, walk early. If it’s raining, wear a raincoat or carry an umbrella, then come home and take a hot shower. It’s one of the most invigorating feelings ever. Try it.


People who lose weight permanently are realistic, and they make their activity program work for them. Exercise is their slave, not their master. When they walk, they know it directs a hefty supply of oxygen to their lungs, gives them a chance to be away from their busy life for a few moments, helps them think about their progress toward permanent weight loss, gives them a few moments to listen to the birds, smell the flowers, and spend quality time with their spouse, a neighbor, or a friend as they take on the familiar and unfamiliar streets and lanes of their neighborhood.

An exercise you choose to do because it’s right for you makes you feel good. Before long you begin to experience a wonderful freedom from depression and guilt. The right kind of exercise — that you choose — can actually put joy back into your life, while diets — or expensive health clubs you join because you feel guilty for not working out — invariably rob you of your job.

Bottom line: There are no rules for exercise, absolutely none! Cliche as it sounds, just do it!

SOURCE: Chapter 5, “From Guilt Cycle to Bicycle,” in Losing Weight Permanently: Secrets of the 2 Percent Club by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources Inc.

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