Review: ‘No Sweat’ by Michelle Segar

Published by: AMACOM Books
Published: 10th June 2015
EDITION: Paperback
ISBN: 9780814434857
PRICE: $16.95 (USD)

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Blurb
We start out with the best intentions. We’re going to exercise more and get in shape! Then five days a week at the gym turns into two… then becomes none. We hit the snooze button and skip the morning run.

We really do want to be healthy and fit, but we’re over whelmed and overextended—and exercise feels like another chore to complete. Is it any wonder we don’t stick with it?

Behavior expert Michelle Segar has devoted her career to the science of motivation. In No Sweat, she reveals that while “better health” or “weight loss” sound like strong incentives, human beings are hardwired to choose immediate gratification over delayed benefits. In other words, we’re not going to exercise unless it makes us happy right now.

So what’s the solution? To achieve lasting fitness, we have to change our minds—before we can change our bodies. In No Sweat, Segar shows us how. Translating twenty years of research on exercise and motivation into a simple four-point program, she helps readers broaden their definition of exercise, find pleasure in physical activity, and discover realistic ways to fit it into their lives. Activities we enjoy, we repeat—making this evidence-based system more sustainable in the long run than a regimen of intense workouts. Even if we don’t sweat, we really benefit.

The success of the clients Segar has coached testifies to the power of her program. Their stories punctuate the book, entertaining and emboldening readers to break the cycle of exercise failure once and for all. Complete with worksheets, tips, and techniques, getting in shape has never been so easy—or so much fun.

My review

I read this book with interest; like many people I have made promises to myself to do this exercise regime or that and ‘failed’ when life happened. Michelle Segar’s approach – everything counts, activity that we enjoy is activity we’ll keep doing – is a way to turn this cycle of failure and disappointment around. I found the idea of having a specific and immediate motivation for activity compelling. Rather than something distant and abstract – such as ‘for my health’ – or limiting – such as ‘to loose a stone’ – motivations such as being more refreshed for a task or because taking a walk will help relieve an immediate problem, are more immediately gratifying and thus we are more likely to continue the activity they provoke.

Personally, I need to walk every day but the ‘for health reasons’ motivation doesn’t work for me. It becomes a chore. While I was reading this book I tried a few if the exercises in the book, looking at my motivation, attitude, etc. and tried to reframe them as Segar suggests. If I think about my daily walk as a way to refresh myself while I’m writing then it isn’t a chore but an inspiration stirrer, with the added benefit that my dogs get their walk, I get some exercise, my back gets a bit of relief from sitting for hours and the sunlight, fresh air and movement helps with my depression. Self-care becomes a positive activity that improves my day rather than a chore I’ve been guilted in to by my doctor, the asthma nurse and my counselor. Not sure how long I can maintain it though; I’m having a difficult time at the moment, it’ll take a lot for me to keep going when my motivation for getting out of bed in the morning is letting the dogs out in to the garden, and that only lasts as long as it takes to walk down stairs, unlock the back door and walk back up to bed.

All in all I though the book presented an interesting argument and the MAPS technique explained by Segar will be of great use to some people.

4/5

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