After getting off the phone with a client the other day I was left in awe of what she had taught me. YES! Not the other way around --- she, the client, opened my eyes to something meaningful and powerful. After meeting her in person, she had a noticeable determination and resilience about her. Being a full-time employee, parent, friend and daughter, she had made time to wake up three days a week to exercise with her trainer and even attend after-work fitness classes most weekdays.
Can we say...WOW! This is what set her apart from others in my mind. After working with her consistently, she mentioned one thing that really stood out to me: "It's up to you to do it. Others are there to help you but you have to be willing to do the hard work yourself." When she said those words, you would have thought that I was listening to the great philosopher Plato, himself. My eyes grew wide and she provoked me to think further after our session that day. I questioned what obstacles stand in our way to making exercise an easy habit and what can we do to make it a part of our lifestyle. That is how I came up with the list below!
1. GET ACCOUNTABILITY
The social aspect to any habit, including regular exercise, can be highly appealing for some personality types. Try finding a personal trainer, friend, or group exercise class that you can commit to at a certain time of day. This commitment will not only make you feel like you have someone to share your journey with, but also hold you accountable for your habit. For those not lured by increasing your social circle, try the next tip out for size.
2. SCHEDULE IT
We often find ourselves glued to our desk chairs or over-obligated with other time consuming events in our life. Our day-to-day lives may feel pre-planned without our own input, so take charge! When you set a goal to make exercise more regular, try scheduling it like an appointment you have with your most important client...yourself! In the beginning be as specific as you need to be to make it happen. Write down all the details, from the exercise you plan to do that day and what you need to bring with you to where you are going to be exercising and how long your travel time may be. Make success easy! See the example below.MY EXERCISE WEEKMonday: 12:00-12:45pm - fast-paced walk close to work with co-worker (pack change of clothes)Tuesday: 5:30-7:30pm - 1 hour strength/cardio training (30 mins. for travel & clothes change)Wednesday: Off day - spend time with familyThursday: 12:00-12:45pm - 30 min. kettlebell workout at work (bring kettlebell/change of clothes)Friday: 5:30-7:30pm - 1 hour spin class at the gym (30 mins. for travel & clothes change)Saturday: 10:00-11:30 am - walk around my neighborhood OR play basketball at the gymSunday: OFF day - run errands
3. HAVE FUN
Thinking that you have to do certain exercise regimens or that you must be perfect at it makes it more likely you won't do it at all. When you actually have fun doing something, it can make it that much easier to make it a part of your present lifestyle. If you played baseball as a kid and enjoy watching other sports, look up local rec teams to join. If you love dancing, research facilities nearby that offer dance lessons or find a fitness class that incorporates dance moves. On the flip side, if exercise is downtime for yourself, plug in the earbuds and jump on the treadmill, or try an independent sport like kayaking or biking. Don't be afraid to reach out of the stereotypical box of workouts you have in your mind and...
4. SWITCH IT UP
Ever feel like you can't quite get the energy to get going? You're bored with your workout, you no longer see results in the mirror, you're stuck in a rut! This is your mind and/or body's way of telling you to switch it up. You have been dedicated to that Zumba class for 6 months, but your body is no longer changing. Maybe now is a good time to sub in a Bootcamp class a few times a week instead. If walking in the neighborhood is no longer challenging enough for you, climb some hills or try some jog-walk intervals. Maybe your time on the treadmill is getting tedious. Max yourself out on the treadmill for five minutes and then do 10 minutes of ab training and repeat. The idea here is, think outside the box and try something new!
5. SET GOALS
We all have goals for ourselves. Whether it is to begin a regular walking program, run a 10k, lose 15lbs of body weight, gain 8lbs of muscle, fit into those pre-kid jeans, or be able to make five 3-pointers in a row, we all dream of being better versions of who we are today. By setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-based, Realistic, Time-bound) goals, we are able to better define and determine where we are along our journey to our new, improved self. An example of a weekly SMART goal is: I will walk with Sally for fifteen minutes at work on our lunch break Monday, Tuesday and Friday of this week OR I will write a list of pros and cons of losing weight Friday morning while I drink my coffee before work. Weekly goals are not the only goals you can make SMART though. Here is an example of a 3 month goal: I will walk 3 times a week for 30minutes. No matter what your goal looks like, make it SMART so you can measure your success!
6. CELEBRATE SUCCESS
Last year, I set two goals: run an 8k all the way through without stopping and complete the race under 40 minutes. I was dedicated to my weekly training and preliminary races before the 8k on Thanksgiving Day. The big day came quickly, and I was ready to see what I could do! The horn blared loudly at the start of the race as I turned the music on my iPhone a little louder. I knew if I had some good tunes to run to, I would not allow myself to stop running. I focused on my breathing and told myself if I meet my goals, I can buy a new pair of running shoes. Before I knew it, I was racing up to the finish line. I glanced over at the time clock to to see my time...thirty-eight minutes and fifty-two seconds! Victory! My time was under 40 minutes, and I did not allow myself to walk even though there were several times it would have been easier to do so. Immediately after the race, I drove to the shoe store to purchase a new pair of running shoes and as I was trying on my selections, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. I was proud to have met my goals and even more motivated to keep going. I continue to set goals and think of ways to celebrate my success (not always with an expensive pair of shoes). Sometimes I allow myself to buy a new book or take 15 minutes to get outside during my work day as a reward for my hard work and effort. A pat on the back may be just what you need to stay focused on your new exercise habit!