Healthy Lifestyle Tips for Couch Potatoes

I hate to admit this, but my living room couch is my favorite place in the house.  It’s where I do most of my writing, bill paying, scheduling, and reading.  I relax, work, and, sometimes, nap there.  And when I work as a therapist, I simply exchange my living room couch for a comfy leather recliner in my office.

Maryanne Walker, LPC Kingwood Counselor

I’ve come to realize, however, that there’s a big problem with being a couch potato lover, and that’s the fact that it flies in the face of conventional wisdom, which says that in order to lead a healthy lifestyle, one must move. Preferably off the couch.  Which means us couch lovers have to figure out how to leave our cocoon of comfort and be more active if we also want to have a healthy lifestyle.

So how do you get moving and lead a healthy lifestyle when you really just want to veg on your living room couch?

  • Don’t wait for motivation to show up

When I was in college, I loved to work out.  Maybe love is too strong of a word, but I did manage to regularly take an aerobics class (what can I say, it was the early 90s) and jogged quite frequently.  Now, I’m lucky if I can drag myself from my couch to the $1,200 elliptical machine in my bedroom, the one that I swore to my husband would be in constant use.

When I think about what stops me from walking to the bedroom, putting on some earphones, and exercising for 30 minutes, the only thing I can come up with is that I lack the motivation.  The catch-22, however, is that I only find motivation after I work out.  If I work out for even one day, I am much more motivated to work out the next, which has led me to believe motivation isn’t going to come looking for me.  I have to go looking for it.

  • Move in ordinary ways

Two years ago I spent a small fortune on purchasing some P90x workout dvds (do you see a pattern here?).  The program is great, but grueling, especially if you’re a couch lover.  After four days of one hour workouts, I threw in the towel.  For one, I could not keep up.  Two, I didn’t have one hour a day to work out.

Then I shifted the way I defined what is exercise.  When I stopped believing physical activity could only be accomplished through some trend-of-the-moment exercise program, I realized daily life provides plenty of opportunities to move.  Now I walk up my stairs several times a day.  I park my car far from my office, and also avoid using the elevator whenever necessary.  I intentionally look for ways I can go about my normal routine and move at the same time.

  • Don’t eat on the couch

Did I mention I also like to eat while sitting on my couch?  This is a common mistake we often make whenever trying to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Whenever we sit on the couch and eat, we are also usually doing something else at the same time, like watching television or reading.  The problem is that our brain then makes a connection between food and entertainment. And that connection means that whenever I pick up a book or watch tv, I also think I need to eat as well.

Just like the bed is only suppose to be used for sleeping and sex, our couches need to be used only for certain activities like watching tv or reading.  Be aware of other activities taking place on the couch, such as eating.  When you link food with sitting on a couch, healthy living becomes a much more difficult task.

  • Sit on the couch and be active

Sound like an oxymoron?  Actually you can sit on your couch and still manage to be somewhat active.

Sometimes I use my couch time to do breathing or arm exercises.  I’ve also done some exercises with light weights, all while on my couch and watching television.

Consider pairing sitting on the couch with another activity like painting nails, sitting yoga, or writing. If you start to think about all the things you can do when sitting on the couch, you’ll quickly find there’s a long list of activities that can keep you active in some way.

  • Set an intention for healthy living

Nike’s old slogan of Just Do It is really a great rule for healthy living.  Healthy living does not come naturally for a lot of us.  We have to make a committed effort to eat more healthy, move more, and put self care practices into place.

That’s where intentions come into play.  Setting an intention doesn’t mean you will never find yourself vegging on the couch again.  If you’re like me, my intention to live a more healthy lifestyle is one I have to constantly recommit to.  But with the intention in place, we can visualize healthy living as a goal and attempt to get off the couch more so that when we do sit down and relax, we know we’ve earned it.

Are you a couch potato?  Is living a healthy lifestyle a struggle?  I would love to hear about the things that work for you as well as the things that don’t.

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