Helping you become all that you are capable of becoming!



Tools for a Balanced Lifestyle:

A Manual for a  Guilt Free System of Healthy Living

By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.

Chapter 2: Exercise to Live

2. Exercise to Live


I. An Exercise ALERT


An important element of the Balanced Lifestyle Program is the exercise component. Exercise means increasing the amount of physical activity more than what our ordinary life demands. What exercise in the Balanced Lifestyle requires is our getting back to our caveman roots. Our bodies were meant to handle more physical activity than what our modern world requires of them. When cavemen (and cavewomen too, but we will use the terminology caveman for our illustration) were hungry they needed to leave their caves, which were often located on the side of high hills or mountains. This required them to descend the hill(stretching their muscles for the strenuous activity which lie ahead) to get out to the open plain. They would then walk or run across the plain (for up to two hours or more at an increased heart rate or aerobic level and working up a sweat in order to avoid predators for whom humans were their delicacy of choice in their food chain) until they got to the forest. Once in the forest, they would climb trees (requiring cross training due to the need for motor skills different from those used to that point), or squat behind bushes (requiring flexibility and good muscle tone) or run from tree to tree to hide (running for their lives from other predators who favored human flesh) in search of their prey. They would then slowly stalk (with patience and determination) their food source until they were in "shooting" distance. When close enough they would hurl (requiring upper body strength and agility) their spears at their protein source and hopefully hit their target. Once successful in killing their "needed survival energy source," they would then need to pack the animal on their back (anaerobic strength work) and then run or sprint out of the forest, across the plain (for up to two hours or more with increased heart rate and the strength conditioning loads on their backs). They would then need to climb (stepping their way carefully up) the rocky terrain of their mountain or hillside home until they were safely back to the cave. Once in the cave, (after cooling off), they would begin the process of nurturing their bodies with the "prized food." They needed to be as active as this in order to stay alive. They needed to have bodies which could sustain the level of activity needed to track down and kill their food source if not daily at least three times a week. They needed to sustain this level of activity for their entire lives in order to stay alive and well. They needed this "exercise" in order to survive. For cavemen then, "exercising" was a way of life. Exercise was as essential for cavemen's lives as was air, water and food. They needed to " exercise" to live.


So what about us in the twentieth century who possess cavemen (and cavewomen) bodies but without the need for the high level of physical activity they needed to stay alive? What are we doing to our well planned bodies with skeletal, muscular, respiratory and digestive systems meant to be so active? What is happening as we subject our bodies to the sedentary lives resulting from the modern era of electronics, computers, gadgets, gizmos, remote control, elevators, escalators, automobiles, and other forms of motorized transportation? If we are not giving our bodies the physical activity, for which they were magnificently built to perform, then we are slowing down our internal bodily clocks which manage our metabolic rate. We are telling our internal monitors that we don't need to have excessive activity in order to live. We are telling our internal regulators we have enough "stores" of food in our cave to survive on. We are telling our internal systems to "slow down" and relax since our bodies do not need to be vigilant, alert, awake, active or ready to go at any minute. We are telling the message centers in our bodily functions that we are not "under attack" and to "let down their guard" so that their peak efficiency will not be needed to survive in this world. What we are doing to our internal bodily regulators, is to get them out of whack and confused. They do not know we really need to continue the activity (or at least a part of it) which our predecessors on earth required to stay alive. As a result, our internal functions become slowed down, under utilized and unresponsive. We have less energy, become more lethargic and experience tiredness more readily than cavemen did. We have decreased metabolic rates so that we do not burn off our caloric and fat intake as quickly as cavemen. We become recipients of inordinate numbers of fat cells which are there in our bodies for no real "survival" reasons. We begin to experience joint problems due to being unlubricated or infrequently used. We begin to experience problems in our respiratory and circulation systems due to inactivity. We begin to have digestive tract disorders due to lack of physical exertion. We begin to have muscle tissue breakdown, especially in our primary muscle our hearts. We, by our sedentary lifestyles, experience life threatening physical diseases and conditions which shorten our life expectancy or at the minimum reduce our vibrancy, vitality and ability to enjoy life to the fullest. Because we do not "exercise" enough we threaten our survival. Because we do not have enough physical activity in our lives we are more out of shape than our cavemen predecessors. By not having enough physical activity in our lives we are injuring our "cavemen" bodies. Exercise is needed for us to maintain our bodies in a healthy lifestyle. Exercise is returning to our caveman heritage and giving our bodies a chance to feel the success and triumph of being successful in achieving goals of survival and living. We, by increasing our physical activity and exercise, give our bodies a chance to again hit the targets which will keep us alive and well. When we choose to exercise we accept that exercise is as vital to our lives as is air, water and food.


We must also be easier on ourselves for the lack of exercise in our lives because we were not (in the majority of cases) raised to have exercise as a normal function of our lives. Our families did not adhere to the belief that exercise was essential for life. They did not teach us, from early life on, to make physical activity an important priority in our lives. Oh yes, they might have encouraged us to do physical things like: dance, gymnastics, little league baseball, football or soccer, karate, etc. But our parents did not introduce us to healthy physical activities which we could continue to engage in for the rest of our lives. The motive behind our being encouraged to engage in activities often did not have any thing to do with our health. Often the motive was to get us to become competitive or maybe keep up with the Jones's kids. They often encouraged physical activity so that we could become successful as athletes, performers or contestants. The messages given us about physical activities were confused, jumbled and distorted. We did not get the message that exercise and physical activity were as essential to living as were food, water and air. Our parents (in the majority of cases) were poor role models for adult participation in physical activity and exercise. They were responsible for many of our current beliefs and negative self-scripts about exercise.


Our parents were not alone in giving us corrupted, distorted and irrational perceptions and beliefs about exercise. Our schools, community groups, organized youth sports, friends, peers and relatives also gave us input about ourselves and our level of exercise and physical activity. Perhaps we were the last ones to be selected for teams at school or gym class. Maybe we were taught that the only way to play was to win. Or maybe we were taught that because we were so uncoordinated that we couldn't do anything. We might have had bad experiences when it came to gym class, organized sports and extracurricular physical activities, which have shaped our biases and prejudices about exercise and additional physical activity. We need to accept that we were not taught healthy messages about exercise and physical activity as children and that we need to correct these self-perceptions and self-scripts prior to our implementing our exercise program for our Balanced Lifestyle.


You need to exercise to live. So what is holding you back? What is blocking you from getting on the bandwagon of exercising? What is behind the stress, anxiety or panic you feel when you realize that an exercise program is required for the rest of your life in a balanced lifestyle? What you need to do at this the beginning stage of your Balanced Lifestyle efforts is to do an ALERT to identify what are the irrational, unrealistic and unhealthy beliefs which are keeping you emotionally off track and resistant to implementing an exercise program in your life.


what is creating the panic, anxiety or stress as you confront the need for increased physical activity and exercise in your life. Look for the underlying thoughts and feelings which are making you resistant to implementing an exercise program. Try to identify what past experiences or humiliations might account for your current hesitation to begin. Bring to your conscious level memories of past efforts at exercising and how and why they ended. Try to push yourself to identify the sources of anxiety about exercising and then move on to the next step in the ALERT process.


the impact of the stressor of the need to exercise and increase your level of physical activity by identifying the irrational, unrealistic, unhealthy, non-reality based, sick thinking and beliefs which make the need for exercise such a stressor in your life. What follows are just some samples of such beliefs. The words bolded in each statement, make the statements irrational, unrealistic and unhealthy for you. Removing the bolded words and rewriting these statements into more positive affirmations will lessen the impact of the stressor of the need to implement an exercise program in your life.


Unhealthy Message Healthy Affirmation

  • I don't have time to exercise. I will make time to exercise.
  • I don't want to be in a big group. I will exercise on my own.
  • I don't want to wear tights and leotards. I will wear whatever clothes I want to when I exercise.
  • I don't want to hurt. I will have increased resistance to pain and hurt by exercising in a healthy sane way.
  • I don't like it. I need to exercise to live and I will only do those activities which I enjoy doing.
  • I don't want to sweat. I will allow myself to sweat while I exercise and enjoy doing so because it is good for me.
  • It is such a grind. I will only do an exercise program which I enjoy doing.
  • It is so boring. I will make every effort to make my exercise program interesting and pleasant for myself.
  • It is so costly to exercise. I will implement an exercise program for myself which is inexpensive and of reasonable cost.
  • I am worried how others react to me. I only need my own approval when I exercise.
  • I have too much in my life to do already. I will make room in my life for exercise.
  • I need an outside "push" to do it. I will motivate myself to implement an exercise program in my life.
  • I can't exercise alone. I can exercise alone because it is needed for me to live. I use air, water and food on my own and I can do the same with exercise.
  • I won't let others see me. I will chose exercise and activities which I can do alone and out of the sight of others.
  • Exercise is work. I exercise because it is healthy for me.
  • I will make every effort to make exercise fun for me.
  • Exercise is a waste of time. Exercise is the best expenditure of time I can give myself.
  • Exercise is extracurricular in my life. I will make exercise an essential component of the curriculum of my life.
  • Exercise is not a habit for me. I will make exercise a healthy habit in my life.
  • I don't look forward to exercising. I will look forward to exercising.
  • I am bad because I need to exercise. I am a human being who needs exercise in order to have a healthy, vibrant, vital life.
  • Exercise is drudgery. I will make every effort to make my exercise program interesting, productive and something I look forward to doing.
  • Exercise is a pain in the ass. Exercise is going to make my ass smaller.
  • I'm embarrassed to exercise. I am proud that I exercise and I will let others see it.
  • Exercise = weight management. I exercise because I need it to have a healthy life.
  • Exercise = diet program. I exercise because I need it like air, water and food in order to live.
  • Exercise = weight loss. I exercise so that my body regulates itself in a healthier way.
  • Exercise = no food. I exercise so that I can eat food with less guilt and fear.
  • Exercise = deprivation. Exercise is a gift I give myself.
  • Exercise = punishment. Exercise is a reward I give myself so that I can live a healthy, vibrant and vital life.
  • Exercise = quick fix. Exercise is a lifetime activity which I need to do in order to live a healthy and robust life.
  • Exercise = bulking up and muscles. I will accept that muscles tissue will increase by my exercise program and that it is good for me.
  • I never seem to get around to it. I will always make time in my life to exercise.
  • Exercise = a job. Exercise is a way of life for me.
  • Exercise = a job I don't get paid for. A healthy life is the best payment I will get for the time, energy and resources I put into my exercise program.
  • Exercise is only done by jocks. I am exercising to win at the game of life.
  • Exercise is only done by yuppies. I am exercising for me because I deserve it.
  • Exercise is only done by thin people. I exercise to keep me alive.
  • Exercise is only done by the Stars. I am worth the effort I will put into exercising.
  • Exercise is only done by pretty people. My beauty will shine as I exercise.
  • Exercise is only done by body builders. I am saving my body by exercising. Exercise is only done by athletes. I am a winner in life by exercising.
  • I am too tired to exercise. I will gain more energy and strength by exercising.
  • I am too exhausted to exercise. I will gain vitality and drive by exercising.
  • Exercise is not normal for us to do. Exercise is a normal function for humans to perform.
  • Girls don't exercise. As a woman I have a need to exercise.
  • Exercise is not ladylike. I become a healthier woman through exercise.
  • I am ashamed to show my body off. I will exercise without the fear that others will see my body as I exercise.
  • Exercise is aggressiveness. I will gain calm and peace in my life through my exercise program.
  • It is sexual to exercise. My sexuality will become healthier as I exercise because I will become a healthier person.
  • To exercise is a selfish behavior. I deserve the time needed to exercise.
  • Exercise means to do something exotic. I will do ordinary things in my exercise program.
  • I will please others if I exercise. I will exercise only for myself because I need it to be healthy and strong.
  • Exercise is to do sporty things. Exercise means for me to increase the amount of normal physical activity in my life.
  • If I exercise I can eat more. I am exercising so that I can live a guilt free lifestyle and develop a healthy relationship with food.
  • I accept that if I want to lose weight that I will have to increase the amount of physical activity in my life and reduce my intake of food.
  • I am not athletic enough to exercise. I am able to exercise because my body was made to exercise.
  • Others will make fun of me when I do it. I only need my permission and approval to exercise and it is not important to me how others will react to my exercising since it is healthy for me.
  • Exercise increases appetite. I will decrease my appetite by increasing the level of exercise in my life.


The next step you need to take in your exercise ALERT is to EASE out of the stress by using the new positive affirmations to help your thoughts become more rational and realistic. You also need to try to visualize yourself implementing and being successful in your exercise program. Visualize yourself doing an exercise program only for yourself, privately, in as cheap a way as possible, doing it alone with no need for external prodding or coercion, where your physical activity level is increasing, and your body internal regulators are returning to their "caveman" levels.


Relax with your visualization of success in doing an exercise program by breathing in your new affirmations of success and breathing out your old stale sickly beliefs and myths about exercise. As you relax in your belief about the possibility of being successful in your exercise program you will become increasingly ready then to

Take Action

Take action and implement the exercise program you need for yourself to be healthy, vibrant, vital and alive.

To increase your level of physical activity does not always involve an organized "sports like" exercise routine. It can involve simple things which are easy to implement and cost nothing to engage in such as:

  • parking your car as far away from the building as possible
  • using stairs instead of elevators or escalators
  • walking or riding your bicycle to work or to do errands
  • walking your dog or spouse (just joking)
  • walking to and around the mall
  • walking along the coast of the ocean or lake
  • taking bike or walking hikes on the weekends for a family outing
  • ice skating, rollerblading, roller skating or bike riding for family fun
  • swimming in ponds, lakes, pools or ocean instead of just looking at them
  • cleaning your house on your own instead of hiring a maid to do it
  • try jumping rope in between chores at home
  • taking care of your own lawn and garden instead of hiring someone to do it
  • playing racket ball, handball or tennis for fun and not for competition
  • vacuuming your house for the family as a special treat (even though it is good for you, don't let them know why you really are doing it, let them think it is because you are a nice person (just joking))
  • walking to and around the supermarket while doing the shopping for your spouse(again don't let on how "good it is" for you to do it)
  • stop using your remote controls, do things by hand and getting up out of your chair to do it
  • do things for yourself in the house and stop asking others to do things for you while your are just sitting there as a coach potato
  • set the dining room or kitchen table every time you eat and then get up and clean it up after you eat so that you do not eat on the run, at the counter or worst yet at the refrigerator door
  • do not use the drive through windows at banks, fast food joints, dry cleaners etc. get out of your car and go into the establishment in order to get the services you are requiring
  • weed your garden
  • bend down and pick it up whenever you see something laying on the floor, don't let it stay there, move it
  • chop wood for your fireplace, use the "real thing"
  • don't vacuum wood or tile floors, sweep them with a broom and pick up dirt with a dust pan
  • don't use the electric dryer, hang your clothes out to dry
  • if you are water conserving and have your car washed in a car wash service, wax your car by hand
  • recycle and bring the recycled goods by bike or walking to the recycling center in your neighborhood
  • plant and tend to a garden in which you raise your own vegetables
  • for fun go out folk, square dancing or any form of brisk dancing
  • try cross country skiing when it has snowed in your neighborhood to get to places you need to get to
  • take a break during your work day for a short walk away from your desk
  • don't use the intercom or "E mail" if you need to tell something to someone in your office walk over to the person and give the message directly in person
  • keep your house neat and clean on your own, don't let it get out of hand
  • get off an elevator one floor below or above your desired destination and use the stairs to get there
  • if you drive to work, or take a bus or subway, stop a short distance before your desired destination and walk the rest of the way
  • do your exercising in front of the TV or listening to your stereo to keep you entertained
  • for one month stop going out to expensive restaurants and with the money you save buy a piece of personal exercise equipment which you can use in your home
  • try not to select an activity which requires another person to participate along with you so that you don't have the excuse that they are not available for you to engage in it
  • shovel snow off your sidewalks and driveway, don't use the snowblower
  • rake the leaves off of your lawn
  • volunteer to do physical yard and house work at worthy non-profit agencies and churches if you don't own your own house

You need to use your imagination and stretch your creativity to come up with other ways to increase the level of physical activity in your life which will go into your exercise program for your balanced lifestyle. Make this program of exercise one which is fun, easily achieved and hard to procrastinate over. Try not to make your exercise program so involved and compulsive that it becomes a burden for you to achieve. Remember that you are trying to help your body return to the caveman functioning for which it was created. The activities which you choose for your exercise program need to be normal for you. They do not need to be extraordinary and superhuman. The goal is for your life to be enhanced, your health to be increased and your energy level to be expanded. Your exercise ALERT is over. It is now time to turn to examine what anger issues are holding you back from moving forward in your exercise plan.

Tools for Coping Related Readings:

1. Self-Esteem Seekers Anonymous

  • Section 3: The SEA's Tools for a Recovery Lifestyle
  • Unit 2: Time Management for Recovery
  • Unit 15: Mental Imagery in Recovery
  • Unit 19: Exercise in Recovery

2. Tools for Personal Growth

  • Chapter 17: Stress Reduction
  • Chapter 18: Time Management
  • Chapter 20: Having Fun

3. Growing Down: Tools for Healing the Inner Child

  • Chapter 9: Mirror Work for Growing Down
  • Chapter 14: Growing Down by Having Fun
  • Chapter 15: "Child" Play for Growing Down
  • Chapter 16: Growing Down with Body Movement ?

II. Exercise ANGER Workout

The cavemen and cavewomen most probably experienced times when they got angry with and because of the exercise and activity involved in their fight for survival. They may have become angry with their inability to spear their food source targets on the first shot, which certainly would have ticked them off. They may have been diverted from their food source search by inclement weather which would most probably make them howl at the evil spirited "Weather Source. " They may have stubbed their toes or wrenched their ankles which could have drummed up some rage in those prehistoric bones. They may have been diverted from their hunt activities because of the persistent harassment of their rival mountain side community members. The continual put downs, embarrassing comments or taunts might have gotten the best of these cave dwellers and make them so angry that they focused more of their energy on revenge schemes than on their hunt. Worse yet their source of food might have been eliminated from their neighborhood forest due to natural disasters such as fire or draught. They would most probably be filled with hate towards the "Spirits of Nature", as they picked up camp to find more fertile hunting grounds. What we do know about cavemen and cavewomen though is that if they let their anger take them over and drain them of their emotional energy they would eventually be in a bad space in terms of their survival. They could not afford to remain angry too long or else they would slack in their hunting activities and exercise and find it difficult to survive.

We like our cavemen and cavewomen predecessors can not afford to be so angry at the concept of doing increased physical activity and exercise that we sap our energy and never get to doing it, thus imperiling our own survival. What we need to do is to rid ourselves of our exercise related anger on a daily basis so that we have the emotional energy and motivation to partake in our survival and life sustaining activity and exercise.

You might be saying to yourself at this point, "This is pretty silly. I am not angry at having to do exercise. Why exercise is ok. I don't have anything against exercising. I am not angry at exercise." If that is the case, then why is it that you do not currently have a healthy level of exercise which can sustain a healthy lifestyle? What is blocking you emotionally from motivating yourself to engage in this necessary and vital act of life? What you need to do is to become honest with yourself about anger in your life. You are angry at something related to exercise, or else it would be an important part of your life at this time. Human beings usually do not engage in activities about which they have anger in their hearts. Anger blocks the emotional response to doing things which are healthy or desirable to do. What you need to do is to rid yourself of anger related to exercising, no matter what form it comes out in you.


You need to do an ANGER workout on a daily basis until a healthy routine of exercise becomes an habitual part of your life.


First you need to accept that you are angry over exercise related issues or else you would have it as a normal healthy part of your life at the present time. Get out of denial about the role of anger in holding you back from accomplishing a balanced lifestyle for yourself. It is normal and human to experience anger about the importance and need for exercise and increased physical activity in your life.


Second you need to name what you are angry at concerning exercise and increased physical activity. What follows are some suggestions of issues or subject matter which might arise anger, hatred, rage, revenge or other forms of anger in you as you face the need to implement a plan of exercise in your life to sustain a healthy, life extending lifestyle.

Suggested Anger Issues Related to Exercise

  • I hate exercising.
  • It is so boring.
  • I never get to see immediate results, from exercise, in weight loss or reduced body size.
  • It takes so long to get and keep my body in shape through exercising.
  • I dislike the pain involved in exercising when I first get started in it.
  • I despise the notion of "No Pain No Gain."
  • I don't like to exercise.
  • I don't have enough time to exercise.
  • Exercise is so time consuming.
  • Exercising takes me away from things I would rather be doing.
  • I'd rather sit and think about exercising than really having to do it.
  • I hate that exercise is a "have to do" in my life in order for me to live a healthy life.
  • I feel forced into exercising.
  • I feel it is a plot of the fit and shapely people in the world to reek revenge on us "fatties".
  • I don't like the sensation of having to breathe so hard while exercising.
  • I don't like having to sweat while exercising.
  • I hate that exercise is so structured, routine and regimented.
  • I dislike that exercise is something that everybody else who is in on the "know" is doing it.
  • I dislike that the need to exercise is lifelong, continuous and forever.
  • I dislike the fear that something bad, like a heart attack, will happen as I exercise.
  • I don't like that exercise makes me sweat and stink.
  • I hate when others can look so great when they exercise.
  • I hate that others look so happy and have such big grins on their face when they exercise.
  • I dislike having to wear different clothes to exercise in, it is so inconvenient to have to change.
  • I hate that there isn't enough "bang for the buck" in exercising because there aren't enough calories burned and that inches don't drop off of me immediately after I finish exercising.
  • I hate that exercising is so complicated when compared to reading and thinking.
  • I dislike that exercising has become so social so that the "cute"and "pretty" people do it.
  • I hate being asked to exercise with thin or "in shape" people.
  • I hate not being asked to join in the exercise event because I am so fat or out of shape.
  • I can't see a need to exercise unless there is a point to it, like training for a competition or marathon.
  • I dislike this notion that exercise is as vital to living as food, air and water.
  • Exercise cuts into my TV time, social time, telephone time etc.
  • Exercising makes me feel self-conscious cause I feel like others are looking at me.
  • I hate how good others look when they are exercising, they seem so good at it.
  • I hate that there is so much sensuality and sexuality present in health clubs.
  • I feel like I am at a "meat market" or dating service when I am at a health club.
  • I resent that all those "in shape" and thin people crowd the health clubs leaving no place for me to fit in.
  • I hate the feeling, that I will die early in life, if I don't exercise.
  • Why can't there be something else, than exercising, which I have to do to be healthy and live.
  • Although I am doing it, I still hate it.
  • Why can't it be more fun, interesting, less boring?
  • I hate that my initiating of my exercise program has become a joke to the important people in my life.
  • I hate that I used to enjoy exercising and now that it has become a burden to me.
  • I hate the thought of others making fun of me while I exercise.
  • I hate the taunts, nagging, sarcastic comments, and prodding of others to get me to exercise.
  • I don't believe that exercise is necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle and I object to this coercion I feel to exercise in this program.
  • I would rather go on a diet to lose weight than to increase the amount of exercise or physical activity in my life to get in shape and lose weight.
  • It takes too long to achieve my body size goal in exercising.
  • It just doesn't seem that to exercise would ever become enjoyable to do.
  • I feel like I am being forced to exercise in order to remain in this program and I feel it is unfair.
  • I hate exercise because of the people in my past who exercised and the horrible way they treated me and made fun of me for being so out of shape, uncoordinated or fat.
  • I hate people who have a" better than thou" attitude and make me feel stupid for not exercising, because they have lost weight, gotten in shape and are maintaining a balanced lifestyle by exercising.
  • I resent people who exercise and are healthy.
  • I resent people who have been successful by using exercise to reach their goals of good health.
  • I resent people more successful than me in achieving their balanced lifestyle.
  • I resent personal trainers.
  • I resent experts in exercise physiology.
  • I resent this program's emphasis on exercise.
  • I resent the implicit message that I am a failure in life if I don't exercise.
  • I hate being forced into doing exercise which I don't like and don't want to do.
  • I am resistant to exercising and I wish we could talk and read about something else.


Get It Out

Third, once you have named what you are angry about, you then need to get it out by aggressive anger workout activity. For this exercise workout, you are encouraged to do the following:

1. Purchase a 40 pound karate kick bag. You can get them at any sports store.

2. Hang the bag from a rafter and use sparring gloves on it. Or lay the bag on a coach, chair or floor and use a whiffle bat, an aluminum T-Ball bat, plastic bat or a bat made from rolling newspaper up and strapping it with plastic tape so that it is firm and easy to hold.

3. Once you have your bag and anger workout implements, set aside at least five minutes each day for the next few months to do an anger workout on exercise related issues.

4. Take one of the issues listed above or any issue real to you which raises your anger, resentment, rage, hatred, etc concerning exercise.

5. Visualize the issue, and begin to look at the image of the person, place, condition or situation related to the anger issue as if it is on the bag.

6. Begin to hit the bag while yelling and screaming out your anger and rage against the person, place, condition or situation related to the exercise issue which is the target of your anger.

7. Keep hitting and yelling until you feel your anger lessening or abating. It is good to do this for at least five minutes. You can go as long as you want. Don't stop until your time is up or you feel your anger has abated.

This "getting out" activity is exercise in itself. So you can get angry over the fact that to get anger out of yourself concerning exercise requires that you to do some form of exercise.


Fourth, once you have gotten your anger out you will feel energized and ready to


resume your efforts at implementing a program of exercise or increased physical activity in your life so that you will be healthier and more fit for life.

As you work at lessening your anger you then need to go on and do some CHILD work to give yourself a new healthier emotional response to the need to exercise.

Tools for Coping Related Readings:

1. Self-Esteem Seekers Anonymous

  • Section 2: The SEA's Tools for Recovery
  • The ANGER System

2. Tools for Anger Work-out

  • All 15 Chapters

3. Growing Down: Tools for Healing the Inner Child

  • Chapter 3: Dumping Negative Garbage

III. Exercise CHILD Work

Our predecessor cavemen and cavewomen needed to nurture themselves to sustain their motivation and drive to keep up their level of physical activity and exercise when they were feeling bad about their ability to be successful in spearing and capturing their necessary food targets. They needed to have self-forgiveness for their mistakes and failures in their hunts. They needed to be open to accept themselves as not being perfect in their pursuit of their food prey. They needed to extinguish their discouragement at not being the "fastest", "most efficient," "most skillful," or "most coordinated, " hunters that they would like to have been. They needed to self-nurture and self-love themselves in order to sustain their desire and motivation to keep on with their life sustaining activity of food gathering. Cavemen and cavewomen naturally practiced a form of CHILD work which let them sustain their needed live serving activity.

You need to practice CHILD work efforts to sustain your efforts at implementing and maintaining an exercise program for your balanced lifestyle to address issues of self-hatred, self-loathing and self-deprecation you might be experiencing as you address exercise in your life. You may be angry at yourself for not sustaining a sufficient level of exercise and activity you once did earlier in your life. You might be ashamed of your body and are unwilling to exercise in public lest you let others see your body in sweat inducing activity. You may be down on yourself for no longer having the physical ability or agility to engage in physical activities you once engaged in when you were younger and in better physical shape. You might have been a compulsive exerciser in the past and are now down on yourself for getting so heavy and so out of shape. You may be filled with guilt and shame for what your body has become and find it difficult to initiate an exercise program for fear that you are so out of shape that you will not be able to handle any of it. You may not be able to forgive yourself for becoming the coach potato that you have become and yet you do not have any internal motivation to change or get off your potato. You might be able to say, "I need to exercise," but you lack the self-worth and self-deservedness needed to self-motivate you to pursue it seriously at this time. You might hate yourself so much that you recognize that to exercise is to live and the alternative of not exercising means slow self-destruction which you believe you really deserve for what you have done to yourself and your body. You feel so alone, abandoned and isolated in your life that you cannot picture yourself doing any physical activity with anybody because of your body size and weight. You feel so down on yourself that you find it hard to say anything nice or healing to yourself as you address this exercise component in the Balanced Lifestyle Program. Although you have done your anger workouts on exercise you still find yourself holding back from involving yourself in exercise and increased physical activity because you can't get up the internal motivation to "just do it." What you need to do is the following CHILD mirror work exercise daily to help motivate you to get up and do your exercise so that you will be able to live a happier, healthier, more vital, robust and vibrant life.


CHILD Exercise Mirror Work Exercise

First, you need to

Calm yourself down. Read the story of The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson. When you finish the story about this duckling who is born different from others picture yourself as this duckling. Others saw the duckling as ugly and unacceptable. Due to the duckling's differences, it suffered ridicule, teasing and cruelty. Just like you have endured from others and most importantly from yourself when it comes to your body being out of shape, over weight and under exercised. But the ugly duckling survived and was rewarded for endurance, patience and a will to live. You, like the ugly duckling, are a beautiful swan waiting to come into your own. You need to grow in self-acceptance and self-love. You need to get more in touch with your inner beauty and stop "judging your book by its cover." You need to begin to look within for the inner beauty and strength in you so that you can become successful in your exercise efforts.

Now place yourself standing in front of a full length mirror and begin to look at yourself in the mirror. The person you are looking at is you. It is your inner child whom you do not often attend to. The person in the mirror is the inner spirit in you who needs to have you spend more time with. The person in the mirror needs to be re-parented and given guidance on how to address your concerns about exercise in a healthy self-loving way. The person in the mirror needs your forgiveness for being a human being subject to making mistakes and experiencing failures. The person in the mirror is a person in need of your love, concern, tenderness, warmth and compassion. The person in the mirror needs to know that there is love in your heart no matter what that person has done, how that person looks or how much that person weighs. That person in the mirror needs your unconditional love. That person in the mirror and you have a relationship and are part of a team with a power greater than you who is your Higher Power. As you look at the mirror imagine the strength, warmth, compassion and love of your Higher Power as you begin the next step.

Once you have calmed yourself down by looking in the mirror, begin to feel the

Healing presence of your inner child and Higher Power. Begin to feel the strength that comes from teaming up with your person in the mirror and your Higher Power. This is a team that can tackle any problem. This is a team that will be on your side as you begin to implement your exercise program. Once you feel that healing presence you are ready to move on to the next step.

You are now ready to both

Inform and

Love yourself through the following script. You can use this script as it stands or write out your own. Tailor this script to fit your circumstances. Be sure that you put in your script self-forgiveness and letting go of shame and guilt themes if they are needed. Put in more affirmations about doing exercise to encourage you that it is good and healthy for you and that it can be fun and relaxing for your. It is important that you use the same script daily so that it eventually becomes a habitual way of thinking and feeling for you in regards to you and exercising.

  • You are a beautiful person and I love you very much.
  • You deserve to live a full, healthy and balanced life.
  • You are no ugly duckling you are a beautiful person deserving of my acceptance and love.
  • You are a swan waiting for me to give you a new lease on life.
  • You deserve to exercise to live.
  • You are worth the time, effort and resources I am spending on exercising to live.
  • You are a wonderful gift to me and I will take care of you by exercising.
  • I forgive you for your mistakes and failures in the past when it came to exercising.
  • I forgive you for your compulsive approach to exercise in the past.
  • I promise you that your exercise efforts will be kept in balance now and in the future.
  • I forgive you for what has happened to your body and weight.
  • I promise you that because you are loved and desired that I will take better care of you.
  • I forgive you for the times you made a fool of yourself avoiding doing exercise.
  • I promise that I will try to protect you from being pushed, prodded, threatened or coerced into exercising.
  • I promise that when you exercise that I will make every effort to make it fun and relaxing for you so that you do not suffer from anxiety or panic as you engage in it.
  • If others make fun of you as you exercise, don't let them bother you, since I am very proud of the effort you are making to increase the level of physical activity in your life and my approval is all that you need.
  • I forgive you for not wanting to exercise in the past.
  • I forgive you for hating to exercise.
  • I forgive you for never wanting to exercise.
  • I promise you that I will make every effort to motivate you in a loving way to exercise.
  • I want to have long life with you and I know that through exercise our chances are better for an extended time on earth together.
  • My Higher Power, I know you are with me.
  • I feel your presence here in front of this mirror.
  • I see in me Your power and majesty.
  • You gave me the intellect, wisdom and common sense to make a decision to bring my life into balance.
  • You have given me the tools to make my life healthier and stronger. I only need now to cooperate with Your generosity and use these tools to the fullest.
  • I promise to be good to You my friend in the mirror.
  • I promise to love you and be kind and gentle to you.
  • I promise to be gentle with criticism and judgement concerning your exercise.
  • I promise to give you the exercise you need to live.
  • I promise to believe that you deserve the exercise.
  • I promise that you deserve to succeed and become a winner in life by exercising.
  • You are my special friend, I love you and I will work hard to make you all that you are capable of becoming.


Once you have completed the mirror work script on exercise, you then are ready to

Direct yourself, the person in the mirror and your Higher Power to go out and exercise as often as you need to sustain your life.

  • I will exercise as often as I need to sustain my life.
  • I want you my person in the mirror to call me on it if I fall back on my exercise program.
  • I want you my Higher Power to be there with me so I can hand over my shame, guilt and lack of self-forgiveness which hold me back from pursuing a healthy life for myself.
  • I am going on from this day with a new spirit of hope and commitment to exercise to become a healthy, vibrant, robust human being because you and I deserve it.


Do this CHILD mirror work daily as you begin to implement your exercise program. It would be best to do this mirror work immediately after you do your daily exercise ANGER workout This will fill you with a new conviction and motivation to exercise and to feel the sense of self-love, self-worth and self-deservedness needed to sustain your exercise program.

To facilitate your doing of this mirror work, put the script on a card and put it on a mirror conveniently located near your anger venting place so you can go from one activity to another with little or no break. Rewrite the script as time progresses. Add new concepts or ideas as things change in your exercise life. At this point you are now ready to deal with control issues you experience in your exercise life.


Tools for Coping Related Readings:

1. Self-Esteem Seekers Anonymous

  • Section 2: The SEA's Tools for Recovery
  • The CHILD System

2. Growing Down: Tools for Healing the Inner Child

  • Chapter 5: Letting Go of Shame and Guilt
  • Chapter 6: Self-Forgiveness
  • Chapter 7: Unconditional Self-Acceptance and Self-Love
  • Chapter 8: Mirror Work for Growing Down
  • Chapter 9: Re-Parenting for Growing Down

IV. The Exercise LETTING GO


When the cavemen and cavewomen were needing to be active physically in order to survive, what they did not need was some authoritarian controller who intimidated them to "get out there and work your hardest to get our food." They needed to work hard to get food anyway and didn't need someone to nag, coerce, compel or demand that they be active physically. If someone in their cave community had tried to intimidate them to "exercise" the strong likelihood existed that they would have felt angry, resentful, rebellious and defiant and not wanted to go out to be physically active to get their prey. Unfortunately for the cavepeople, if they reacted negatively to such intimidation to exercise, they would have never survived and probably would have died if they refused to actively pursue their food. So too you cannot resist the necessity to put exercise into your life, because you find this program, author or class leader triggering your sense of being intimidated or coerced to exercise. This sense of being coreced may be due to the rhetoric used in this program about exercise being as vital to living as food, water and air.

If after hearing the necessity for exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you are finding yourself feeling compelled, angry, coerced, mandated, cheated, or intimidated to do so you might be reacting in a "control" way to the sense of your "external locus of control" demanding that you meet a certain set of conditions or expectation in order for you to gain approval, acceptance or recognition in this program. More importantly you might be currently fearing that your retention in this program is imperiled if you do not immediately implement an exercise program in your life. This sense of being intimidated into doing something in order to gain someone else's approval might be triggering in you the same old negative tapes in your head when an "authoritarian," "autocratic," "critical," or "demanding" parent, relative, teacher, or significant other tried to intimidate you to meet certain conditions in order to be loved, accepted or approved. What might be triggered by the messages, both explicit and implicit in this program about exercise, are actions which imply resentment, rebellion, resentment, sadness, depression, anger, passive aggressiveness or lack of desire to comply. These actions might be tied into old control modes from your past of helplessness or overdependency.

Helplessness came from the belief that "No matter what I do, it will never be good enough to get the other's approval, recognition or acceptance. So why try." This resulted in you waiting for the other to do it for you or to make it easier for you to accomplish. Today this form of control might look like the excuses: "I don't have time to put exercise into my life." "I can't exercise the way others do and I feel foolish trying." "I could never exercise in front of others, I would feel so silly and stupid looking." "I don't know what type of exercise is right for me." "I don't know what they mean by exercise." "Explain again to me what you mean, I don't get it." This helplessness is a form of manipulation to get the intimidating other off your back. It is a protest about your lack of desire to be forced into doing anything you really do not want to do. If the cavepeople were helpless they would have died. The result of the helplessness mode, in not implementing a healthy level of exercise and physical activity into your life, could be your self-destruction and untimely death. You need to let go of your helplessness concerning exercise so that you can survive.

Overdependence came from the belief that "I am nothing emotionally, spiritually or intellectually unless a significant other accepts, approves, values, recognizes, reinforces or loves me." This resulted in you accepting the conditions, expectations, demands and self-scripts which that significant other set for you, no matter how difficult it was for you to attain. This need to please and get praise from the other would lead you to resort to manipulation and conning to try to convince the other you were achieving or doing what was desired, even if you hated or despised doing it. What was important was to be taken care of emotionally and to gain the support of this other, even if what was expected was outrageous or demeaning for you to perform. You learned to be a people pleaser so as to get the crumbs from this other's emotional banquet. You were never able to feel fully complete or satisfied and became addicted or compulsive about getting the emotional support from others. At the same time you grew to resent and hate the power you gave these others to make you feel the way you felt about yourself. You internally were rebellious and jealous of how they controlled you, when in reality it was you who were controlling the situation by placing the others in such a powerful position in your life. Are you falling back into your old control mode of overdependence by doing exercise only to get your need for emotional support from the class leader or the group? If yes, then you are not doing exercise for yourself, but rather you are doing it for the others in your "external locus of control." This naturally leads to resentment, hostility and rebellion against these others for having the power to influence how you feel about yourself. With this will come a lack of commitment to exercise and eventual decrease of this healthy activity in your life. If the cavepeople decreased their level of physical activity because they resented the other cave dwellers for only loving them if they were active, they would eventually die of starvation. You too could die out of your over controlling mode of overdependence on others for emotional support because you will most probably cease to exercise if you do not get enough external positive reinforcement for doing it. You need to let go of the overdependence you have placed on others for emotional support. You need to become emotionally independent and depend only on your own emotional reinforcement of yourself for exercising. LET GO is the system by which you can let go of the need to be helpless or overdependent on others when it comes to doing exercise. By letting go of these control modes you will first reduce the stress, anxiety, tension and possible insanity you have been feeling over the necessity to implement an exercise program into your life. What LET GO will do for you is to help you to accept personal responsibility for doing exercise for yourself. It will help you to own the messages of the Tools for a Balanced Lifestyle Program as your own messages. It will help you to not allow yourself to feel intimidated, coerced or compelled by this program to exercise. You will begin to exercise because you "want to" instead of because you "have to." This program cannot become effective for you as long as you do not incorporate it into your "internal locus of control." LET GO will enable you to internalize the necessity of exercise as vital to your life. It will lead you to want to survive and live a healthy life through exercising and increasing your level of physical activity. The more you let go of the control response to the message of exercise in this program, the more serenity and peace you will possess within yourself since you will be doing something to improve your survivability instead of your self-destructiveness. You have five steps to take in the LET GO process.

First: you need to

Lighten the Pressure to be helpless or overdependent in response to the necessity to implement exercise in your life. This will require that you complete the ALERT, ANGER and CHILD systems approach to exercise in the first three sections of this chapter. This will assist you to become more rational about the need for exercise in your life. It will release some of the anger and resentment you have about the need to exercise to hopefully open your heart and mind to this message. It will lastly give you a chance to self-nurture yourself through self-forgiveness for not exercising more regularly in your life already. This will help you to lighten the pressure to resort to your old unhealthy forms of control such as helplessness or overdependence to deal with the need to exercise.

Second: you need to

Exercise your Rights to not control others through manipulation, conning or people pleasing in regards to exercising. You need to accept personal responsibility for your own life and put exercise into it for it to be healthy and strong. This step involves you in accepting that you have the power to make exercise happen in your life. This means that you do not need anyone to intimidate, coerce, nag or compel you to exercise. That you freely choose to exercise because you want to live. You begin to say self-affirmations like:

  • I am exercising to save my life.
  • I am exercising only for my own approval and recognition.
  • I am in control of my own life.
  • I am competent and capable of exercising for my health.

Third: you need to

Take Steps necessary to prevent you falling back into helplessness or overdependence because you feel resentment, resistance, rebellion or lack of interest or desire to exercise. You need to implement a structure in your life which frees others of the responsibility to rescue you if you should fail to live up to your personal commitment to implement exercise in your life. This means that from this point forward in the Tools for a Balanced Lifestyle Program, you will no longer be required to hand in the weekly exercise sheet. You will be expected to do this sheet for yourself each week and put it in your program manual. You need to take all steps necessary to insure that you alone are the sole person for whom you are exercising. You need to continually monitor to insure that you do not fall back into exercising only to meet the expectation of this program. You need to take steps to own the messages of this program so that the message that exercise is essential for life is your message to yourself which motivates you to continue to exercise for yourself. You begin to say:

  • I own the Balance Lifestyle Program's messages as personal messages to myself.
  • I am doing this balanced lifestyle effort only for me.
  • I only need my affirmation and support to be successful in exercising.
  • I let go of the need for the approval of others for my efforts to exercise.

Fourth: you need to

Give Up the Need to try to get others to make it easier for you or to do it for you when it comes to exercising. You need to accept that exercise is a personal thing and that you cannot hold anyone else personally responsible if you cease to exercise in the future. You alone are responsible for the level of exercise in your life. You need to give up the need to blame or hold others responsible for that which only you have control over in your life. Putting exercise into your life is to accept your responsibility for your own life. Take ownership of your own life by not needing to pull others into your need to exercise. It is best that your exercise program not involve doing it with others, so that you do not slip back into overdependence on others to be responsible for you exercising.

Fifth: you need to

Order your Life so that you can maintain the serenity gained from taking control and responsibility of your own life and the need for exercise in it. This entails letting your support people know that you need to exercise only for yourself. You need to let them know that you cannot expect or want them to reinforce you for what you are doing in your life. You need to set yourself up as the sole person responsible to reinforce your exercise efforts to prevent backsliding or relapsing into helplessness or overdependence when it comes to the need to have exercise in your life.

There are other possibilities about the need to let go of control when it comes to the need to exercise to live. To explore these other control issues more, read the Tools for Handling Control Issues (Messina, J. J., 1992, Kendall/Hunt). Those of us who have controlling natures need to let go of the need for such control if we are to be successful in exercising to live.

Tools for Coping Suggested Readings

1. Self-Esteem Seekers Anonymous

  • Section 2: The SEA's Tools for Recovery  The LET GO System,
  • Section 4: The SEA's Twelve-Step Tools
  • Step 1,
  • Step 2,
  • Step 3,
  • Step 7

2.Tools for Relationships 

  • Chapter 8: Handling the Use of Power and Control

3. Tools for Handling Loss 

  • Chapter 7: Accepting Change

4. Tools for Handling Control 

  • All 15 Chapters