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The Journey Ahead - Part 1

Are you new to fitness or just joined a gym? 

Congratulations, you have started on your journey to improve your physical and mental health, fitness and well being.

Think about your future and all that you hope to do in all areas of your life. You know that good health is essential for the achievement of these goals. Unless you take care of your health, you can’t take care of business, family and other interests.

We are aware that reasonably good fitness and strength level brings with it optimum health and improved quality of life. But how do we know if we are fit enough? What does fitness mean and how do we measure it?

The term fitness relates to our general health and covers many aspects of our physical and mental well being.

Physical fitness is indicated by:

  • The ability to perform daily tasks easily, having enough energy left to enjoy active leisure activities.
  • Strong muscles for balance, endurance, agility, bone strength, and posture.
  • A healthy body composition ( lean body weight to fat ratio)
  • Flexible and pain-free limb movement
  • A healthy and efficient cardiovascular (heart / lung) system

Mental fitness is determined by:

  • Self satisfaction and a positive outlook
  • Vitality and vigour
  • High self esteem
  • Ability to de-stress oneself
  • Ability to cope with life’s ups and downs

Because your body is genetically programmed to move, not getting enough physical activity carries a heavy price tag in terms of health, emotional balance and looks. And, if you have avoided physical activity as much as possible for many years, the good news is, it's never too late to reap the benefits.

Physical and mental fitness goes hand-in-hand and could be defined as an inner sense of well being. Healthy living means making important lifestyle changes in the way you eat and exercise and in the way you think. Changing old habits isn’t easy, and we want you to know that it’s okay to be afraid and uncomfortable with this lifestyle change. That’s natural, but these changes will be gradual. Making the change to a healthier lifestyle is a process you will enjoy and can be proud of. The easiest way to go about it is to take it one step at a time Change is impossible when we set ourselves unrealistic goals. If you try to hurry change, chances are it won’t be permanent.

If you have fallen into a rut of overeating and inactivity help is here. Ruts can be a comfortable, cozy and self-indulgent phase of life, but no matter how comfortable you have become, ruts often lead to depressing conditions that eventually will take you down a path of self-destruction.

Action creates motivation. Once you understand and implement effective exercise and eating habits, you will become successful. Once you start achieving great results, the excitement and fun you experience will make the change worth the effort. Enjoying the many great benefits of a healthy lifestyle will help provide the impetus to stay on the healthy road you have taken

Whether you are new to exercise or are restarting again makes no difference to the journey ahead.

Imagine that you have committed yourself to walking from one city to another city. You are now at the city boundary about to take those first steps on the very long journey. There has been no time frame set for this journey, just that you will keep going step by step until you get there.

The prize at the other end is all that you ever imagined that you could be - healthy, happy, slim, feeling and looking young for your years with loads of energy and vitality.

What a goal, what a prize, no amount of money or luck can obtain this priceless possession and to attain it all you have to do is keep plodding along that road.

There will be obstacles, there will be detours, there may even be some backtracking, and there may even be some complete stops. This is all part of the journey; this is all part of the fun and the challenges that lie ahead.

Your commitment to this journey must mean a non-negotiable bottom level of two exercise sessions per week. If you do more than this that is fine and you can consider these a bonus and you will reach your destination in a shorter time. But the two sessions always must be done unless you are very ill or seriously injured. If you miss sessions it is up to you to make them up.

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To fit these sessions in they must take priority of the same level as work or family commitments. If you wait till you have time left over then they will not get done and you will not get to the first town let alone City!

Getting started and continuing an exercise program can be a challenging yet rewarding undertaking. You can implement various techniques to improve your adherence to these new lifestyle changes.

Set realistic goals that contribute to long term lifestyle changes. Set both behaviour and outcome goals. A behaviour goal could be simply exercising Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 7 o’clock. An outcome goal could be fitting back into a favourite piece of clothing that no longer fits.

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Focus on achieving your behaviour goals since you will have much more control in achieving this type of goal. By achieving the behaviour goal it is highly likely you will automatically achieve the outcome goal.

Think of your scheduled sessions as you would any other appointment. You wouldn’t break your dental appointment because you didn’t “feel like going” would you? If you’re committed to reaching your health and fitness goals, you must follow through and keep promises to yourself.

Initially, you may be very motivated to stick to your program but it is not unusual for your motivation to dip occasionally. Rather than having an all or nothing attitude towards exercise, think of it as an on- going process.

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If you miss your scheduled workout, realise all is not lost. Forgive yourself and re-evaluate your behavioural plan. Adjust your strategies to prevent further dropouts and recommit to your program. Develop a back up plan in case of unforeseen circumstances. (This may be doing only 50% of your normal session or changing your scheduled workout day or time.) Agree not to use your back up plan unless absolutely necessary but be flexible enough to compromise. Exercise is not an all or nothing event. Even a little is better than nothing at all.

If you have not successfully stuck to your program in the past, analyse past obstacles and implement new strategies to overcome these barriers.

Read Part 2 in our next Blog