How to Keep Your Exercise Going


Erin pictureA Q&A with Green Mountain’s Program Director

Erin Risius, MA, joined Green Mountain at Fox Run at the end of 2013 as program director. She brings a dual background in fitness and counseling and discusses how Green Mountain’s fitness program helps women make liveable, doable lifestyle changes. 

How does Green Mountain help women make fitness a permanent part of their lives?

We help our participants shift their focus from “I need to fix myself” to “I choose to care for myself.” This really forms the foundation of the Green Mountain approach, and I support it wholeheartedly because it’s rooted in helping others empower themselves around self-care rather than being defined by unrealistic cultural standards and a number on a scale.

I am passionate about showing women that there is a way to create positive change without deprivation and pain.

That this journey can be about enhancing one’s life NOW in a way that enables them to become their own authority on what truly nourishes them – physically, mentally and emotionally.

“In order to understand what your body needs, you have to care about yourself enough to listen.”

I know this to be true for myself, and I have witnessed in those I work with that cultivating body awareness through mindfulness is a key component to bridging that gap between insight and action around the practice of self-care.

So, how can someone use mindfulness to exercise?

Mindful exercise is about tuning into how the body feels with exercise when it comes to the intensity, type, duration and frequency. It’s about honoring the body’s limits and conditions and, when ready, gently challenging those limits. It’s not about “all or nothing,” but about cultivating the practice of paying attention – of going off auto-pilot and bringing a sense of curiosity and observation to the table in order to respect, not overrule the body’s cues. This approach is key for exercise adherence and enjoyment.

Did you ever personally struggle with making fitness an enjoyable presence in your life?

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For years I used food and no pain/no gain exercise as way to cope with stress, not realizing that my way of coping was negatively impacting my mental, emotional and physical health. As a result, I struggled with depression, severe acne, and chronic digestive problems, to name a few. I was only using exercise as a means to an end.

How did you make the switch to making exercise enjoyable?

The practice of mindfulness with exercise allowed me to shift from overexercising to moderate exercise – and I actually enhanced my level of fitness and health as a result. Whether you are overexercising or not exercising at all – the end result is that the body’s needs are being ignored.

While training to be a personal trainer, I was fortunate enough to find a mentor in the fitness industry who taught me how to feel and honor my body’s cues during exercise, which enabled me to find that “middle ground” that is key for optimal health. This is what we do at Green Mountain. Help women find their own “middle ground” so they can sustain the healthy behaviors they start here.

Based on your own experience, how can you help women who come to Green Mountain?

I understand professionally and personally how the journey toward better health can feel challenging and elusive, as well as overwhelming amidst all the misinformation out there. Often we follow advice or programs that we think are in our best interest based on what everyone else is doing, but when it comes to healthy weight management, diet and exercise fads need to be avoided, not followed.

My goal is to help women clarify the path that is in their best interest for whole health and then identify what they personally need to stay on that path.

9 responses to “How to Keep Your Exercise Going”

  1. Peg says:

    Oh boy!! Hi erin. -peg, OR

  2. I so needed this today! 🙂

  3. Harriet Krivit says:

    I’d start by not calling it “exercise”. Call it physical activity or create a word or phrase of your own that doesn’t sound like a “should” do it exercise-diet. The challenge is to find any physical activity that you enjoy…even in housework. Like I hate making beds (my husband does that). BUT I love my Meile pull-it-around-like-a- toy vacuum cleaner…yard work is shared as well. We live in a door-to-car society… computer/ world…all sedentary. I’ll bet most folks don’t consider choosing to live near local shopping and or work that they can walk to as a priority. Bike riding is such a joy. We don’t own a car by choice and get along fine without it. People look aghast when they hear that. I know many folks can’t do this but they probably could cut back on the door-to-car ingrained habit. When my job was in mid-Manhattan…I used stairs instead of the elevator…and of course there was much more walking in the city as well.. When I chose our present home…it was a 10 minute walk to Main St. and a very pleasant one.. never boring. I don’t walk “to walk” or ride my bike “to ride”. It’s my transportation in warmer weather. Walking is year-round.
    Thanks for the topic, Lisa…as always this is just my own “take”.

    • Erin says:

      It sounds like you have made activity a way of life – kudos to you. I agree it really is about finding ways of incorporating movement into one’s life throughout the day – it all adds up.

  4. Marjorie Gump says:

    Recently had an MRI showing 4 discs in my lower back ares @ levels 1,2,3,4,have no more gel like cushion inside the discs. There is no hernia tigon or bulge in any of these discs.
    Based on your experience @ Green Mtn, what would be a few good exercise/ movement ideas to try?
    I must tell you the pain is pretty rough & most days my back feels like is cut in half. Some days , I limp more than others.
    I will be seeing a specialist in the next several weeks , but until that appt what would you suggest?? I am 64 yrs young, & want to be active, not a coach potato!!
    Can you give me some suggestions, please??
    I also ice this area , several times a dAy( at least 4x day for 20 minutes) many thanks!

  5. Erin says:

    Hello Marjorie – While I wish I could help provide some relief for you, we do not provide exercise advice for physical conditions without assessing/seeing someone in person – and especially for those who are in acute pain. I recommend reaching out to your specialist for referrals on who to see in the interim for care around how to manage your pain appropriately and proactively. I wish you the very best in this process…

  6. Mary says:

    What do you recommend is a good first step when you find yourself finding many reasons NOT to exercise? 9 weeks away from GM and I feel like I am on a slippery slope.
    Hope you are well!

  7. Erin Risius says:


    A good first step is to start small. So, no need to resume exercise at the level you stopped at – as your body might rebel. But depending on what you are (or not) doing now ask yourself what you can bring back in, in order to build consistency. So, something that feels doable…

    Often people can get into the all or nothing pattern with movement, but something is better than nothing, so starting small and building up from there as you feel ready is a great place to start.

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