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The Journey Ahead - Part 2

Map out exercise plans and stick to them

People who stay faithful to their exercise programs don't usually have willpower. They don't need it. What they have is a habit, a routine. Exercise for them is like brushing their teeth. They just do it.

Put exercise high on the priority list, next to family and working. To make exercise a habit, it needs to be on the agenda in a specific time slot, not on the "to do" list that you turn to "when I get a minute". When you make time to exercise, you will end up having more energy to meet all of your needs, and more things get done in the end.

One way to make something a habit is to have the same environment, the same situation every time you exercise. Consider exercise as part of your working day like getting dressed. The process of donning the workout gear at a designated time is far more important than how long or how hard you work out. Once the consistency is ingrained in your routine, you can pay more attention to the quality of your workout.

How long till it's a habit? As quickly as six weeks or as long as six months - it's simply a matter of following a format that makes you feel good, about making promises and keeping them. The key is setting yourself up to be successful with your new program. Success breeds success. Small successes encourage you to keep going and help you manage larger challenges
Staying On Track With Your Exercise Program
You may have good intentions of sticking with your exercise plan, but obstacles will come up that may detour you. Remember excuses only get in the way if you allow them too. Follow these suggestions to stay on track.

  • Write down your reasons for starting your physical activity plan on a card. Put this card where you will see it often.

  • Write down your three most disruptive obstacles to activity and propose three realistic solutions.

  • "Not enough time" is the most often used excuse. Increase your time management skills so that you can fit in your exercise sessions.

  • Schedule your exercise sessions in a daily planner or calendar. Consider these as appointments with yourself. Give yourself the same respect you give others in keeping appointments. Your only reason for not exercising should be if you're sick.

  • Enlist a friend or relative to share physical activity with you. Support is one of the most important factors in exercise adherence. Share your goals with those close to you or others that are likely to ask you about your progress. Ask them for their support. Having explained that you have set aside a particular time to exercise can potentially minimise future conflicts or misunderstandings. Those close to you will have the opportunity to understand the importance of your goals and the time you have set aside for them.

  • It can take up to 8 weeks to see some of the benefits you desire from your program. In the meantime, focus on short-term goals, like performing your weekly training sessions as planned, which will increase your self- confidence.

  • Use a log sheet to track your progress. Consistency is the key, not how long or how hard you exercise. Do ten minutes when you don't feel like a longer session. Write it in your log. The most important thing is that you did something. You'll be proud of your accomplishments and this will help you to stick with your program.

  • Visualise. Remember that you are exercising because you want to achieve the goals you have set yourself. If your goal is to reduce body fat, visualise each session as peeling layers of fat off your body, much as you'd peel layers off an onion. If your goal is to increase muscle definition, visualise your muscle as it will look, and feel it working as you lift the weight. If your goal is to increase your cardiovascular fitness or to reduce your blood pressure, imagine your heart working and pumping blood and oxygen to the cells in your body - getting stronger and more efficient. As you perspire, imagine the impurities flowing from your body and you are working your way to better health.

  • Think of exercise as essential to your well being like good nutrition and sleep. If something is part of your lifestyle, you do it whether you like it or not, like brushing your teeth. If you regard exercise as a hobby (something to be done when you feel like it) you may not exercise regularly, not reap the benefits and loose motivation.

  • Successful behaviour change begins with believing in yourself and believing that your health and wellbeing are important and worthy of your time and energy.

Aim for improvements in your life, don't aim for perfection. Life is never perfect. Small changes will bring big rewards.
Keep this information handy and read it from time to time. This will help motivate and keep you focused. It doesn't matter where you are today it's where you are going that counts.
Change Your Attitude

Think like a winner, not a loser - remember that emotions are like muscles and the ones you use most grow strongest.  If you always look at the negative side of things, you'll become a downbeat, pessimistic person.  Even slightly negative thoughts have a greater impact on you and last longer than powerful positive thoughts.  Negative thinking doesn't do you any good; it just holds you back from accomplishing the things you want to do.  When a negative thought creeps into your mind, replace it reminding yourself that you're somebody, you have self worth and you possess unique strengths and talents.

Read Part 3 in our next Blog