The question: I want to successfully follow through on my New Year's fitness goals. Do you have any tips for me? I have heard and tried the regular ones like setting realistic goals, scheduling workouts into my book and getting a fitness buddy. Anything other tips you can suggest to help motivate me to train in the new year?
The answer: It sounds like you have been down the resolution road before. Adopting a healthier lifestyle is never a perfectly linear process, and as a result can be frustrating. Congratulations on persevering!
Instead of feeling discouraged, learn from past experiences. Reflect and note what was successful, what wasn't and why. As I tell my clients, when you fall off the "health horse," don't feel guilty, just get back on a more informed rider. Use your health history as knowledge that will help you succeed this year! Next, don't use the goal of "health perfection" as an excuse to skip workouts. So many of us make unrealistic goals. Then, the first time we can't complete them, we get frustrated and allow ourselves to scrap our entire plan.
Replace your all-or-nothing mentality with a belief that some movement is always better than no movement. Can't make it to the gym? Walk home. Can't go to spin because you have to drive your kids to practice? Wear exercise clothes on the drive and go for a run as you wait for your kids to finish.
Change your mindset. Don't think if you will fit movement in, but when will you move today? Focus on what you can do, not what you can't. Frame daily movement, even if it is not the form you originally intended, as non-negotiable. Small amounts of activity add up. Consistency is key.
When I want to skip a workout I use my 10-minute rule: I make myself do something for 10 minutes. If after 10 minutes I want to stop, fine – at least I have done something. Most of the time, after 10 minutes, I feel more into the workout, so I continue.
Trainer's tip: Another way I convince myself to exercise is by reminding myself of my favourite saying: "You are only ever one workout away from a better mood." I apply the law of initial value: I tell myself that, the worse I feel before a workout, the more room my mood has for improvement. I always feel better after a workout!
Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.