How to Really Stick with Your Exercise Plan

If you struggle with fitting exercise into your life you have plenty of company. If you’re like a lot of my clients, you believe that there just isn’t enough time in your life for a consistent, sustainable exercise plan.  When I probe a little deeper with my clients, however, we discover that lack of time is rarely the problem, rather it’s making a commitment to show up day in and day out for an activity that often feels like a chore, like a big “should”.  How do I help my clients overcome this obstacle?  Listed below are six practical steps you can take to propel yourself toward more consistent exercise.  Each of these steps will help you get into the workout loop long enough so that you begin to feel the real and many benefits of a regular exercise regime.  Once you begin to experience those benefits, you will no longer view day in and day out activity as a chore or a big “should”.  You’ll see it as essential to your well-being. 

Six Steps to propel you toward consistent exercise

Step 1: Accept this Fact

Understand that exercise is absolutely essential to healthy, sustainable weight loss and overall fitness. Without it, your fat-burning muscle mass will decrease each year. That translates to eventual weight gain even if you’re eating remains pretty much the same. It’s as simple as that.

Step 2: Make a Real Commitment

Decide to add consistent movement to your life AND schedule. My clients who have been most successful in becoming consistent exercisers actually pre-plan and schedule their workout times. Begin with an amount of time you are confident you can really manage. Commit to what is manageable for you at this time, even if it’s as little as 10 minutes a few times a week. Don’t judge the amount you choose as not enough. What’s important is to build self-trust through actual follow through. Put it on your calendar, just like all the other important tasks you schedule. This is a simple way to place a high priority on workouts and on yourself.

Step 3: Honor Your Plan, Honor Yourself

Choose to honor yourself by honoring the plan. Adopt the view that being active is a non-negotiable part of your self-care “practice.” Embrace the discipline to stay committed to the plan that you freely chose. Remember that discipline is not about self-punishment but rather about being a disciple to yourself. What does it look like to be a disciple to yourself?

Step 4: Support & Learn from Yourself

Being supportive of yourself as opposed to judging yourself really does help you stay the course. Keep it simple with three mindful steps:

1     Choose to show up for yourself,

2     Acknowledge the difficulty in doing so, and

3     Hold the intention of honoring yourself.

When you aren’t able to stay on course, make it an opportunity to learn about yourself. Be curious. What habits, thoughts, attitudes, keep getting in your way? Your challenge to follow through, and the stops and starts you experience paradoxically serve to identify your obstacles.

Step 5: Make it Enjoyable, Make it Happen

It really helps if you can find an activity that you enjoy. What activities did you once like to do – even just a little bit? Bike? Dance? Walk or jog with a friend? What have you always wanted to try? Yoga? A triathlon? What will help you be consistent and enjoy yourself? A walking partner? A personal trainer? A regularly scheduled class? I’ve noticed that my clients who choose exercise activities they actually prefer rather than those they think they “should” do are more successful over the long term.

Step 6: Do it Anyway!

Don’t wait to always “feel like” or “want to” exercise – it is a myth – even for seasoned exercisers. What seasoned exercisers will tell you, however, is even if they don’t feel like exercising, when they push through the mood and exercise anyway, they end up feeling better as a result. This willingness to “do it anyway” is critical to your success, because the better you feel as a result of exercise, the more likely you are to repeat it.

Experts say that even 10 minutes of activity has health benefits. Ten minutes a day may be a great place to start learning the power of

consistency. After all who can argue with 10 minutes a day? 

Stay Lean!

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