How to Find Time and Energy to Exercise Despite Physical Limitations

by | Mar 27, 2017

“It’s like 1000% or nothing at all.” ~Rachelle

Rachelle was in a snowboarding accident when she was 15 years old that cost her the use of both of her legs. After 18 years of battling both illness and body image issues, she is finally in a place where she is healthy and has a better relationship with food, and she’s ready to feel strong and fit again. She’d also love to lose 20 lbs.

Rachelle believes that being in a wheelchair makes getting enough exercise too difficult and time consuming to be practical for her busy life. She’s juggling both a family and a career as a lawyer, so it’s clear that both time and physical limitations create barriers for her workout habits. After a little digging in our conversation though, it starts to become clear that Rachelle’s psychological barriers are the main obstacle.

All her life Rachelle has been ambitious. Her previous attempts at getting fit involved intense exercise programs with personal trainers and sports like boxing––things that take a ton of time, energy and resources. She knows that with her career and family, activities like this cause her to burn out. But when she compares herself to her husband who has lost 20 lbs in three months she believes she needs to be doing intense training like this in order to see results.

Together Rachelle and I work to reframe her goals in a way that makes them compatible with her work and family life, while still allowing her to lose weight. We discuss specific mental exercises she can do to help maintain this perspective (often the hardest part) and give her the cognitive flexibility to be more creative in finding new ways to be active.

Wish you had more time to listen to the podcast? I use an app called Overcast (no affiliation) to play back my favorite podcasts at faster speeds, dynamically shortening silences in talk shows so it doesn’t sound weird. It’s pretty rad.


Related Links:

Mindful Meal Challenge


Peloton bike



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7 Responses to “How to Find Time and Energy to Exercise Despite Physical Limitations”

  1. Jessi says:

    Thank you so much for such a nice post. I really liked this very motivating story. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Jen says:

    I wonder if it would be worth it to invest in a couple of private sessions with the yoga instructor Rachelle liked, but this time to ask her to develop a specific sequence that she could do without the assistance of another person? That way Rachelle could pepper it in to her week at home and then if she feels bored/progressed beyond that sequence, purchasing another session. I practice a form of yoga called Ashtanga which is a set sequence but quite physically demanding and it is very meditative in nature.

  3. Stephanie says:

    One exercise that I wondered about her pursuing was swimming. It is low impact but can allow a killer workout. I’ve never checked out a water aerobics class so I don’t really know the clientele but she may find success at the pool – plus beat the heat. If it’s not water aerobics that she likes she may just end up enjoying laps.

    The other thing I wondered about was whether she has the ability to get together a group of her friends (maybe even her husband) and share the cost of a personal trainer to train with them as many classes a week as they are fiscally able to. She may find a trainer that can take her “all or nothing” thinking into account and help encourage/motivate her to gradually ramp up her fitness levels without burning out. Plus personal trainers can have creative ways of addressing her needs and tailoring the classes to her benefit.

    Just some thoughts that came to me as I was listening!

  4. Dee Verley-Matthews says:

    This is one of the best conversations I’ve ever heard about weight loss and healthy living! I, too, have physical limitations post twice occurring breast cancer, which are rheumatoid arthritis, lymphedema, and lipodema. I, also, would like to lose 20 pounds and have been frustrated about how slow the effort of losing weight has been for me, especially with the limitations. I have just recently discovered acceptance in walking one mile a day, which physically feels good, in that I’m getting stronger but not in pain! I’m also in the process of forgiving myself and starting over again each day when I am not eating mindfully. There really was so much in this pod cast to reflect upon and feel positive about reframing! The problem-solving that Darya demonstrated throughout this pod cast was really exceptional and I highly recommend that everyone listen to it!

  5. Sandy says:

    I was going to suggest swimming too, it’s great for strength and aerobic exercise and it’s adaptable to reduced lower body function. (I believe its often recommended for people with lower body injuries)
    It’s also something kids tend to really enjoy so it doesn’t take time away from them when they visit.

  6. Dave Gardner says:

    Taking time for yourself and your body is and should be the first priority you have if you want to be able to keep happy, fit and help others (if you have kids for example)

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