Last month I wrote a popular post about how to create an exercise program. I know for many of us putting a clear plan of action together is a lot of work, and then we actually have to exercise too! Phew! Believe me, I get it. If you have your exercise plan and have started and stopped, started and stopped, you are not alone. Making the plan is in many ways much easier sticking with it long-term. To achieve the results we want takes continued commitment on our part.
We are all busy. We all work long hours, have social/family obligations, and sometimes struggle with our bodies and minds. We all also often have the best of intentions for ourselves and desire nothing more than to live happy, healthy, useful lives. Why is it that we continue to allow ourselves to be detoured off our path? What excuses do we tell ourselves that keep us from going for a walk, hitting the gym, getting on our yoga mats? These are the important questions we need to ask inorder to find solutions that will support us to keep our commitment to fitness and reach our goals as a result.
Doing 1 hour of sit-ups one day a week is not going to get you the results you want. Taking one yoga class each month will not cut it! We need to be disciplined – at least to some degree. How many of you often hear yourself say, “there just isn’t enough time”. While I empathize with that I also think you need to learn some time management skills. Ouch. Ok, that might be harsh for some, but it’s true. Let’s get real. There are not enough hours in the day, that is reality for most of us. Now that we have agreed on that, let’s decide how we are going to use the hours we do have to create the best lives we can. If that means watching less TV, peeling yourself away from the computer, or waking up 30 extra minutes early, do whatever it takes to follow through.
For many years I had a very difficult time keeping my exercise commitments to myself. When I got down to the root of the issue I found my low self-esteem. I did not wake up one day and love everything about myself and run to the gym never looking back. I had to take the action consistently and the results followed. I’d be lying if I said the results followed as quickly as I wanted them too. They did not. I had to work hard and show up as often as possible to become the person I wanted to be. It has been a process and one that I have never regretted for a single day. I never hear myself say, “I wish I didn’t go to that yoga class” or “hiking that huge cliff with my friend was such a waste of time”. My experience shows me when I keep my exercise commitments regardless of how I feel before I get started I am always glad I chose that route.
I have come up with a short list of actions that will help you keep your commitment to exercise. Feel free to use any of these for support.
1. Exercise no matter what. Even if it is just five minutes, do something. You do not need to run a marathon next week. Try a 20 minute walk before dinner or five sun salutations before you check your iPhone in the morning.
2. Make a list of your top three excuses for not exercising and write out three positive alternatives. If your excuse is a busy mind, try a more meditative form of exercise such as yoga or golf. Pick positive alternatives that are realistic for you and where you are in your life right now.
3. Set short-term goals. Maybe you want to lose 15 lbs. Start with 5 and go from there. Making things more manageable in this way will help keep you focused and engaged in the process. We are already overwhelmed enough, don’t set all long-term goals, that is a sure fire way to get burnt out or bored.
4. Reach out to friends for support. I have gone to many fitness classes with friends over the years. They provide a way to be accountable, a partner to share the experience with, and it’s fun to check out new things you might not on your own. It can also be great to schedule a weekly exercise date with a friend.
5. Write down 3-5 reasons you want to exercise and keep it in a place you can refer to it often. The health benefits to exercise are incredible and it is important to be specific about what your reasons are. Try to get in touch with your feelings around this. The more clear you can be here the better.
There are many reasons why it can be challenging to keep our exercise commitments. Whatever your reasons are I encourage you to really look at them and see if they are serving you. Are they beliefs you have about yourself? Are you making up excuses? Take some time and think about this and commit to taking charge of your health and life. It is within your power to change your life and your relationship to exercise. People can support you on your journey but nobody can do this work for you. Look at this as an act of self-care and start taking better care of your physical body. If you show up for yourself in this way other areas of your life will clear up and you will become more open and engaged in your life. If I can keep my commitments I am sure you can too.