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Apathy and Parkinson’s: 5 ways to stay motivated

Are you having a hard time sticking to your fitness and nutrition goals? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Apathy and Parkinson’s often go together.

January is the time of year when people feel the most ambitious about setting fitness and nutrition goals. But sticking to those goals for more than a couple of weeks is another story. We get it. It’s hard for anyone to stay motivated to eat well and exercise, but it’s even harder for people with Parkinson’s.

If you are experiencing apathy (feeling unmotivated or experiencing a lack of interest), know that you are not alone. Apathy is a symptom of Parkinson’s affecting up to 40 percent of people living with the disease.

One explanation is that people with Parkinson’s are at greater risk for apathy because they produce insufficient amounts of the brain chemical dopamine. People who are older, farther along in their disease, or experiencing impaired cognition or depression are at higher risk of developing apathy.

If you’re having a tough time sticking to those New Year’s health resolutions, don’t fret! It’s BGF to the rescue with five easy tips to help you stay motivated.

Set achievable goals.

The idea is to start small with goals you are confident you can achieve. If you are out of shape but want to start running, don’t set a goal to run three miles a day. Instead, make a commitment to get off the couch and take a walk around the neighborhood every day. After a few days of walking, set a new goal to turn that walk into a jog. Before you know it, you’ll be off and running.

You should also avoid setting too many goals at once. Instead, start with one or two totally doable goals. From there, you can tack on more goals as your confidence and motivation builds. In time, setting and accomplishing goals will feel so satisfying that you won’t want to stop.

Find a fitness partner.

When it comes to sticking to your New Year’s goals, there is strength in numbers. Find a buddy with similar fitness and nutrition aspirations. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a friend, partner, family member, coworker, neighbor or someone else with Parkinson’s.

This way, you’re not just holding yourself accountable, they’re holding you accountable too –and vice versa. We all have goals we want to achieve whether it’s to work out, eat healthier or get out of the house more often. When you let someone else in on those goals and are praised for accomplishing them, you’ll be motivated to accomplish more.

Stick to a schedule.

You are most likely to stick to a goal when it becomes a daily habit. Consider mapping out tomorrow’s to-do list the night before. This is second nature for some folks. For others, it can feel a little bit daunting or restrictive. The idea is to know in advance what you’re going to do that day and when you’re going to do it. It doesn’t have to be down to the minute.

Plan ahead what you’re going to have for each meal and set aside eating times. This will make it easier to stick to a healthy meal plan. Include a 30- to 60-minute workout session and make this your daily exercise time. When you’re accustomed to working out at a certain time each day, you’ll feel off when you skip a day. Then you won’t let it happen again.

Think fun and variety.

If you perform the exact same workout every day for the same length of time, not only is that really boring, but your body and brain will become adjusted to this routine. In order to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s disease, we need exercises that vary in intensity and will challenge us mentally and physically.

The same concept applies to nutrition as well. If you get in the habit of eating the same things day in and day out, food will become less appetizing. Experiment with fruits and vegetables you don’t usually eat. Incorporate them into fun and easy plant-based recipes that will make your mouth water just thinking about them.

Looking for a few good recipes? Here are some of our favorites.

Get involved with BGF.

If you stick with us, we guarantee that fitness and nutrition can be fun. The Brian Grant Foundation hosts numerous cooking courses and fitness classes throughout the year. Bookmark our events page to see if there are any upcoming classes that suit your fancy. Keep checking in because we are constantly updating our calendar.

We also have a variety of virtual fitness classes that you can do at home, which were developed specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease by renowned physical therapists and range between 10-60 minutes.

The Power Through Project is a social network created for people in the Parkinson’s exercise community. Sign up today to find Parkinson’s friendly fitness classes in your area, learn which exercises help which motor symptoms, and get to know others around the world who are powering through Parkinson’s. Good luck!

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