Sometime, it does really feel that the universe has set out to sabotage your weight loss efforts! You know what I mean: there you are being “good” eating healthily and doing really well and then suddenly out of the blue your neighbour thanks you for looking after the cat with a huge box of choccies! Or perhaps you have worked late and you are feeling tired, the train is delayed and you are ravenous and the only thing that you can get your hands on is a bar of chocolate in the vending machine!
What I’m trying to say is that life is unpredictable – these are life’s little challenges and no matter how much we try, we cannot always control which challenges we will be facing on a day to day or week to week basis. This funnily enough also applies to your exercise routine.
Getting started on an exercise routine can be one of the hardest challenges for many of my clients. They are used to driving everywhere, no matter how short the journey, or at work they don’t have the time or inclination to walk up the stairs and opt for the lift every time. Some of my clients have not donned a pair of trainers and “gym” clothes since their long ago days at school or college!
If you have struggled to get started with exercise then you are not alone and even if you have started taking exercise, it can be so easy for the daily unpredictable challenges to become excuses as to why you cannot do your exercise today: “It’s too cold” “Working late means there is simply not enough time” or “My car’s not working so I can’t get to the gym!” These are all “exercise avoiding excuses” and the more you use them to stop yourself getting out there and taking exercise, the easier it is for them to become an “exercising avoiding habit!”
Here’s the secret to overcoming the “Avoiding Exercise habit” so that you can integrate exercise into your daily or weekly routine:
1) Choose something that you enjoy, where exercise is perhaps a by-product of the activity. So for example, If you enjoy a competitive sport like netball, hockey or basketball, find your nearest club and get out there enjoying being part of a team and competing to win.
2) Exercise with someone else – a reliable friend maybe! You can then diarise your weekly sessions and it won’t be easy to avoid with those excuses, as you will be letting your friend down. One of my clients goes swimming on a Monday with her friend and even when there is snow and ice on the ground, she tells me she will still go as she doesn’t want to let her friend down and she also enjoys their chatting and catching up whilst they are in the pool.
3) Pay a personal trainer and book a couple of sessions in advance. Once you have committed to this it will be more difficult to opt out with a feeble excuse.
4) Find exercise that fits easily into your daily routine. I have recently become a very proud dog owner and that means every morning I am getting up an hour earlier to walk him in the woods, by the river and in the park for an hour before I get ready for work. Already I am starting to see a difference in my leg tone and to be honest, once that alarm goes off after the initial feeling of “it’s nice and warm in bed!” I am up and out with my mug of tea and I am loving it. It’s also a fabulous start to my day watching mother nature changing and presenting new scenery every day: mist, ice, bright Autumn blue skies etc. In this scenario the exercise is a by product and fits at least 3 of the secrets to exercise above: I enjoy walking and being in nature; I am exercising with my partner and my dog and it does easily fit in to my daily routine.
5) Diarise your exercise like you would an important meeting – in fact, it is an important meeting- with yourself and your health! Another client diarises walks, zumba and swimming in her weekly schedule when she does her business planning at the beginning of the week. She knows that if she does this, then like any other important engagement in her diary, she is aware that it is there and plans towards it appropriately.
I know from personal and professional experience (and as someone who in the past has not enjoyed exercise and has groaned at the very mention of the word!) that once you start to exercise regularly, within a few short weeks you will get into a routine and actually enjoy taking this time out for you and your health: you may even find yourself getting cross if for a a valid reason you are unable to participate in one of your sessions. That’s when you know that you have overcome the “Exercise Avoidance” habit!