Exercise Adherence: 5 Tips to Staying on Track

FitnessNurse November 28th, 2009

As a Fitness Nurse, I get a bunch of e-mails on this topic.  Why we quit.  Then start again. Then quit again.  The ‘quitting part’, unfortunately lasts a lot longer than the ’start again’ part.

It is a major challenge for many of us.  But why?  Is it the pain of working out?  The embarrassment of going back to the gym?  We know we NEED it.

We know we should exercise.  I’m not talking about incidental activity,but I’m talking about regular, structured workouts that your body recognizesas ‘effort’.

We know we should do it.  Our doctors tell us.

The pills, if you haven’t already started taking them; are right around the corner.

We buy treadmills, we hang plants on them.We join gyms, we don’t go.We start walking/jogging programs, we last a week.We hire a personal trainer, we cancel after 2 sessions.We buy cross-trainers, we don’t know what cross-training means.We find an exercise class that meets our schedule, we change our schedule.You know the drill; your story may be slightly different, but you have a story like the rest of us.

You know exactly what I’m talking about.

After watching people struggle with this for over 20+ years in the fitness/health industry here a few suggestions I have for you:

  1. Use 4 week blocks when you set your goals and start small.  To tell yourself that you will exercise for the rest of your life; is not only unrealistic…you’ll start looking for a reason to end your life or what’s easier…stop exercising.  4 weeks is short enough to be believable in your mind, “I’ll walk every day for 15-20 minutes this month” is more realistic than, “I’ll exercise every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for the rest of my life.”  4 weeks is also long enough to see (definitely feel) some real results. Also start with small sessions, exercising consistently for 1 minute a day everyday is better than exercising for a 1 hour a session 3 times a month.
  2. Try team activities.  It’s great if you’re able to motivate yourself to workout by yourself.  But those times when the weather is bad or you just don’t feel like it…letting others down who are depending on you to play ‘a game’ will motivate you go get there, even if you’re running late (no pun intended).  Also team activities can be fun.
  3. When you decide you are going to start,  get a check up…from the neck up.  If you have been sedentary for 3 months or more (sitting all day is considered sedentary; looking for every opportunity to sit down is sedentary), you need to start slow.  You can’t train for the Olympics in a weekend.  Even real, deal exercisers aren’t fit enough to train for the Olympics.  Even Olympians retire.  Oh, also check with your doctor too.  Then hire a fitness nurse to listen to what you are concerned about and they will help guide you to the next step.
  4. Collect some baseline data other than your weight.  Exercise causes embodiment.  You ‘feel’ when you move.  You become in touch with yourself and it changes everything.  It’s hard to eat crap after a good workout.  It sets your mood for the rest of the day when you’re able to exercise in the early morning.  You handle stress better.  You have no trouble sleeping like a drunken bum after exercising…well after exercising with me.  Data, like you blood pressure, your waist measurement and resting heart rate, are so much more important to who you are than your weight.  When you’re healthy; you’re congruent with mind, body and spirit.  Contrary to what society and the media says:  Skinny does NOT = healthy.  Feeling good builds momentum.  You have to feel good to look good.
  5. Stop and enjoy your body.  Once you reach your goal of losing 2 inches on your waist in a month, enjoy your body.  Take a week off if you want.  Trust.  You’ll be o.k.  You should feel energized and motivated to continue what you’re doing.  If you feel deprived and feel that you ‘deserve pain’ because you did this to yourself and now you must suffer without pause…you will end up hating what you’re doing no matter what the outcome is.  Movement is a blessing.  Be kind to your body.  You can maintain for a week.  Don’t overeat, go for casual walks and then start up again for the next 4 weeks.  Oh, if you want to re-assess your health numbers do so at the end of the 4 weeks.  RESIST weighing yourself.

If you have a history of getting on and off the fitness merry-go-round; I hope these tips helped you.  You may also want to listen in on my short talk on Bio-Circadian Nutrition and the science of burning fat in your sleep.Mondays, 9:00-9:30pm ESTCall:  (616) 347-8300Access code:  623104#

Keep It Real…Food,Lori (a.k.a. Minky)www.TheMinkyWay.com/sq

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