It doesn’t matter if it is January 1st or October 27th. Starting or sticking to our workouts can be a huge challenge. We can be totally motivated one day and then totally lack interest the next?
Our fitness goals usually begin with a huge surge of confidence and enthusiasm, then slowly dwindle as we move forward? Subsequently, we begin to question ourselves, and we start beating ourselves up mentally, and then we start sabotaging our own goals by eating too much or spending more time on the couch?
The fact is, we are all different. Some people are more self-motivated, while others need a helping hand and then some of us fall somewhere in-between. There is much to consider when we first decide to take on a fitness challenge and for many, it can be overwhelming. However, when we get specific about our exercise goal and align it to the realities of our life, we stand a much greater chance of sustaining and achieving our fitness goal.
Below are several exercise realities with some quick fixes. By recognizing and planning around these pitfalls, we’re able to take these into consideration and build sustainable exercise programs that deliver the results we’re after.
Many of us start a fitness goal with a dream or an ideal in mind. At this stage, we’re excited and intrigued by the change. We look forward to it with eager anticipation, building a very positive and often over-optimistic view, thinking that it will be much easier for us, and possibly resolve all of our current issues. Many of these ideals are formed on what we think we want or as a comparison to what others appear to already have? We set our expectations based on these ideals and not our reality.
The question I ask my clients is, “what motivation lies underneath this expectation and how realistic is it?”
If your motivation to wear a particular size 6 dress is based on a memory of how you looked and the compliments you received when you wore it two years ago, then you are not dealing with your current reality, otherwise you would still be a size 6? It sounds brutal, but when I rephrase this question to, “is 4 weeks of extreme diet and exercise worth the satisfaction of wearing that dress”, now we are dealing in reality. The client now understands the brevity of what they’re about to embark on and this becomes their new reality. Once the new reality is accepted, the ideal becomes a challenge and the rewards are more profound.
The fix: First, refrain from self-judgement and comparison to others. Second, focus on placing more value on your happiness than on your appearance. This means learning to be good with your body regardless of where you are in life. Finally, have gratitude for your body by appreciating the fact that it has gotten you this far in life!
How have you treated it?
Could it be more of want you wanted if you were more grateful for it?
Hiring a personal trainer is a great way to get an objective baseline of where you are and creating realistic plans for getting you to where you want to go.
Why this works: You are practicing self-loving behavior and establishing realistic expectations. When we are grateful for what we have, we stay in a positive mental mindset. When we judge and compare, we create separation and negativity. Getting an objective professional assessment reduces the gap between our ideals and our reality. This allows us to manage the uncertainty of our goal and in turn, this increases our chance of having a satisfactory journey.
Life can get chaotic. If you are like most of us, you spend your days walking a tightrope trying to balance work, family, friends, errands and other commitments? Every day can feel like a sprint from the time you get out of bed until the moment your crawl back in?
Making time to work out or exercise can be a challenge and we often use this as our excuse for not doing so. “I don’t have time” or “I have too many other things to do” is what I often hear from my clients. Yet, they claim to be impassioned to their fitness goals? The first question I ask them is, “when do you do your weekly planning”? I’m often met with a blank stare or a response like “when am I supposed to do that, I can’t even find time to exercise”?
Planning and Prioritization is a “self–loving behavior”. Planning and prioritization is not “keeping a calendar”. A calendar is a great tool, but it requires that the owner make a commitment to organize their life.
This is what planning and prioritizing does, it a discipline and process for organizing your life so you can do the things you want to do along with the things you have to do.
I have learned that some people feel guilty about the time they spend exercising because it takes time away from their family. This is normal when we make changes to our life. This is a great opportunity to enlist your family for support and motivation. Explain to them why you are doing this, and the benefit to them. For instance, I’m getting healthier, losing weight, etc. so I have more energy when we’re together. Anyone who truly loves you, will support you !
- First, consider hiring a life coach to help you out. A life coach can help you work through your goals, identify barriers, create priorities and identify the things you may need to stop doing in order to do the things you want to do? Yep, you read that right…..I often find many people are taking on too much responsibility for themselves and for others. This is a huge “time suck”. As a life coach, I help put this behavior into perspective and develop plans to balance this out.
- Second, Define your goals and priorities by making a list of your responsibilities. Then rank them from most important to least. Break them down in to two buckets:
- What do you have to do?
- What do you want to do?
- Third, identify & Eliminate dead time. This could be watching T.V., scrolling Facebook or some other form of time that has little value or meaning to your goals. If you want to prioritize something new, then you must de-prioritize something else of lower value.
- Finally, pick and dedicate 1 hr per week for planning your next week. This is where a calendar or good planning tool can come in handy. I use google calendar because it allows me to keep a task list along with my calendar. I like to do this electronically because it allows me ubiquitous access via computers and phones. It allows me to list my goals (priorities), set dates and color code my task (work, Coaching, Goals/Objectives, Chores/Responsibilities, etc). Use this time to plan your week, define priorities, identify constraints, build in contingencies. Keep a list of re-occurring weekly activities like cleaning, cooking or grocery shopping, etc. Keep a list of those “want to do” items and pencil them in when and where time allows.
Why this works: Autonomy. When we start doing what we want to do, versus what we have to do, we gain a level of positive energy that is sustainable, empowering and this is where motivation comes from. Autonomy puts us in control by making time to exercise and reducing the chaos in our week. There is no silver bullet or magic wand for planning and it may take several weeks before you truly feel in control. Additionally, you may be required to simultaneously collaborate with your SO, kids or others associates to properly plan and identify any unexpected events. Through regular planning and prioritization, we use time to illuminate our goals. When we start managing our time by prioritizing around our goals, we assure we are doing the things that are important to us. When we do this, it makes it easier to identify the things that are not important or that are not serving our goals.
No Accountability for Quitting
So, you had a fitness goal and you didn’t achieve it? No big deal right? Wrong! There is nothing more demoralizing than letting ourselves down. Yes, there are a billion excuses as to why this happened, but at the end of the day, the responsibility is yours and so are the consequences. When we really want to do something, but doubt ourselves, we need to create some form of accountability or have some “skin in the game”. We need to first create some motivation that frames our idea of reward or punishment. This doesn’t need to be extreme but, it should be aligned to your value system so that it carries some importance and secondly, it motivates you to follow through. For example, I want to lose 10lbs and this is my plan….If I accomplish my goal then I’ll buy new clothes, if not I’ll donate the same amount of money I would spend on clothes to a charity.
Secondly, we need to get comfortable asking for help. For many, asking for help is an admission of failure? Although this is a common thought, it is just wrong thinking. Asking for help requires some vulnerability and vulnerability is the golden currency for getting help! When you show some vulnerability, people will jump through flaming hoops to help you!
The Fix: Find a work out buddy or get a Personal Trainer.
Why this works: For some reason we humans are inherently more loyal to other people than we are to ourselves. Science shows that when we make a commitment to another person we are more likely to do what we say because we now have purpose. Having a social network for exercise provides additional motivation. Work out buddies and coaches provide positive feedback and remind us why we’re doing what we’re doing. Likewise, a personal trainer is paid to help you remain accountable to your goal, and keep you motivated by tracking your gains/improvements. When you pay a Personal Trainer, you are creating a motivation and getting help with your accountability. In addition, you will be tapping into a wealth of fitness knowledge and expertise.
Find the type of exercise you will enjoy
We are all different animals with different motivations. What may excite and motivate one person, may not work for another.
I once worked with a client who wasn’t exercising and insisted that they truly wanted too. The client had tried an online 6 minute workout and after 3 days quit. The client told me they were lazy? I didn’t believe that. After some careful dialog and exploration of which exercise had been tried, we discovered that what the client valued was exercise that allowed them to think. The client was also motivated to be outside. The client had a dog. This was not a boot camp person. This was not a Cross Fit person. This was a yoga person. This was a take your dog for a run person. This was a ride your bike in the woods person. You see, the client figured if they couldn’t stick to a simple 6 minute workout for more than 3 days, they had failed and didn’t like to exercise. They deemed themselves lazy? Wrong.
The fix: The client was just doing the wrong thing with the right intentions. After working with a Life Coach, the client understood their own motivation and how it aligned to their values. This created the autonomy and purpose they needed, and they began exercising regularly. Not only that, they became motivated to find other exercise modalities that aligned to their preferences. I offer a motivational assessment for my clients that helps them understand their own unique motivational influences. Once the motivational influence are identified, the client can then choose to put themselves in their preferred exercise environment.
Why it works: When exercise is congruent with your values, you are empowered to do what you want, and you are doing what you value. Exercise shouldn’t feel like you’re swimming up-stream.
Our probability of sustaining our fitness goals increases significantly when we establish a positive mental mindset, learn to manage our challenging life conditions, set realistic expectations and align our goals and exercise to our value system. Hiring a Personal Trainer and Life Coach is a great way to learn about which exercise works for you, sort out your time, create accountability and crush your goals.