Tips to move you off the couch

Are you wanting to get into exercise but are finding every excuse under the sun? E.g. my neighbour wants to join me but is away right now; I’m waiting for the gym to open; I’ll get back into it when school goes back. Does this sound familiar?

If you wait for all the conditions to be right before you act you could be waiting a very long time.

Don’t let the grass grow under your feet- start right now.

Get out of your chair and walk up and down the hall… and record the time it took. Now do it again…straight away you have broken the cycle and you are under way.

  • Buy a notebook and record your efforts each day.
  • Think positively Instead of focusing on how useless you think you are write down the little things you manage to do. e.g. the number of stairs you climbed (count them)
  • Get a pedometer and note a days worth of steps.
  • Get off the bus a few stops short of your destination and note how long it took in minutes to finish your journey.
  • Find a purpose to walk. e.g. on the way home from work note the coffee bars that you pass. Next day pick one a block or two away and take yourself off for a trim latte. Remember to only take enough for the coffee not the muffin (this is a great way to meet people, read the paper and get to know what’s going on within your community). Another day pick a place further away and gradually extending the distance each time.
  • If you find it hard to go to the gym… convince yourself that you are really going to pick up a paper or the milk on the way home. Focus on the milk you need to get, not the gym.
    Without thinking about the exercise you are about to do push it to the back of your mind and put on some comfy clothes and your sneakers and say I’ll be back soon. Concentrate on what you will do when you get home not the real reason for going.
  • If the exercising is getting tough yet you do know it is safe to keep going…(you’re not having a heart attack you just haven’t done any for a while)..then don’t tune into your laboured breathing or the sweat that is starting to flow. Think instead about what you will do for the day.
  • Plan that essay or email you need to write. Think about the people you need to contact and what you want to say. Or what you plan to wear that day.
  • If you are doing something that involves counting or a timer… (say you still have 60 seconds still to go on the exercycle) start counting slowly backwards from 90. You will be amazed how quickly the 60 seconds comes round.
  • Build encouraging mental images when the going gets really tough (say you are swimming or running that final lap) pretend there are people around you cheering you on. Focus on their encouraging faces not your heavy breathing.

As you will see choosing to change your behaviour is really mind over matter. These simple techniques can be applied to anything you want to achieve in life.

When you focus on the positive anything and everything is possible.

About the author View all

Lea Stening

Lea is one of New Zealand’s leading paediatric dietitians and also specialises in Sports Nutrition. She has specialised in Paediatric Nutrition for 31 years and in 1985 was the first paediatric dietitian to enter private practice in New Zealand. Lea helps families through her private consultations, public lectures, newspaper and magazine articles as well as television and radio interviews. Read more »

View all posts by Lea Stening »


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