Whether I am taking questions from my followers on Facebook, or meeting up with my personal training clients in the Vancouver, Washington area, many have similar concerns. One recent question that I received from a Lisa H. on Facebook involved getting back into shape after not exercising for so long. Perhaps you can relate!
Lisa explained that she hasn’t worked out in years, and although she used to be in great shape, she has gained a significant amount of weight over the years. Like many people, she plans to start a new routine each Monday, only to not see it through. So she wants to know how to get out of the cycle so that she can make her way back to a healthy lifestyle. Great question!
This is one of the top challenges that I run into with baby boomers who I work with in personal training. They want to exercise and be healthy, but they lack the motivation to get them going in the right direction. The key to this, I believe, is in having a strong reason for why you are going to exercise. You need to feel and believe it, so that the motivation from it not only gets you started, but carries you on. Most people tend to beat themselves up when they have not been active in a while. They may feel guilty, frustrated, overwhelmed, and even feel they are on a path to self-destruction.
The first step in stopping this cycle is to re-invent yourself and remember your dreams. In a past blog post I wrote about reclaiming your identity. What I mean by that is: Who would you be if you were to achieve your goals? Who are you really? Start there! Once you have identified who you really are, it is time to make some goals, both short- and long-term. Examples of short-term goals may be to do weight training three times per week, and go for a 30-minute walk six times per week. A medium-term goal would be to do a 5K, fit into your clothing again, or take a 5-mile hike. Long-term goals are the ones that include losing 50 pounds, wearing a special dress to your daughter’s wedding, completing a marathon, taking an adventurous long hike, or doing a local bike race.
It’s important that you also celebrate your successes on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Just be sure to make them healthy celebrations, rather than junk food rewards. Take a moment each day to write down how your identity is improving and you are moving closer to being your true self. By doing this you will start to reinforce the best characteristics of who you are.
Now, on to the part of overcoming the exercise drought if it has been a while. The first thing to do is get some accountability by hiring a personal trainer. When you do that, you will be more likely to stick with it because you are paying for that service. Here are some additional tips for gaining momentum to get started:
- Define what success in your exercise plan is going to include.
- What dreams did you give up on and really want back in your life? What are those things that get you excited and motivate you to be your best each day?
- How do you feel about your starting point? Do you have health concerns, for example?
- How do you rate your confidence level in reaching your goals? What can you do to improve that confidence level?
- What can you do to improve your desire to exercise?
- What are some of the comments that people have made about your health, and how do you view your health?
- If you could change one thing about your views, what would it be? How would your life be different if you were to do this?
By taking the time to answer those questions, you will have a good starting place. This should put you in a good position to get motivated and start exercising. You only have your health once and the most important thing you can do for yourself is to take care of.
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