MOTIVATION & ENCOURAGEMENT

1: Know the benefits of exercise. We are more motivated to do things that we’ll benefit from. The more we benefit, the more motivated we are. For example, if I told you I’d give you a million dollars to take a 30-minute walk tomorrow morning, would you do it? You bet you would! The benefits of exercise aren’t quite that compelling, but they are pretty motivating! You will benefit tremendously from consistent exercise. For many people, that’s very motivating!

2: Create your personal “reasons list.” Keep a piece of paper and pen handy for a couple of days. Jot down EVERY reason you can think of that you want to get healthy/get fit/lose weight through consistent exercise. Real life example: I spoke to a lady a couple of months ago who could only think of two reasons that she wanted to lose weight and get fit. I told her to think about it for a couple of days and she came up with a list of over 30 reasons, such as:

  • more energy to spend quality time with her family at night
  • to be able to fit into all the clothes in her closet
  • to be able to live a long, healthy life and to enjoy time with her children, husband, and grandchildren (eventually)
  • to not be uncomfortable in public
  • to not become breathless climbing stairs
  • to be able to do “active” things with her family and friends
  • to be able to play on the floor with her children
  • to be able to wear nice clothes

Her list goes on, but you get the picture. Make a long, extensive list. This may not seem important, but it is critical to be able to read this list when your motivation to exercise is waning. It’s a powerful way to quickly get “re-motivated”!

3: Exercise with a friend. Statistics tell us that people who exercise with a friend are more successful at exercising consistently. You can keep each other accountable. Knowing that someone is waiting for you to exercise with them can be great motivation to show up and get it done!

4: Exercise first thing in the morning, every morning. Folks, if you’re really serious about this exercise thing, then get serious about it. Our bodies were made to be active on a daily basis, and when we are, all sorts of wonderful things happen. We even get healthy and fit! People who exercise 6 to 7 days per week first thing in the morning are much more successful at exercising consistently than those who do the 2 or 3 day thing. It doesn’t have to be a huge workout everyday. Get out there and take a 30-minute walk.

5: Train for a local 5K or 10K walk or run in your area. This can be great motivation to exercise on a regular basis. I’ve seen many people transformed from couch potatoes to lean, mean, exercising machines because they decided to enter and train for a competition like this. Don’t think you can’t do it…YOU CAN!

6: Reward yourself! Real life example: Claire from Atlanta told me that she puts $3 in a piggy bank every time she exercises. She gives herself the freedom to spend this money on things she normally wouldn’t buy for herself. She says she usually ends up with more than $70 per month!

7: Keep records. Write down your exercise time (minutes) each day. Keep a running total for the month and year. Calculate your average exercise time per day. Set some lofty goals! :)

 

BONUS TIPS

  • Make your exercise as enjoyable as possible. For example, if you’re a walker, you may want to get a good cassette or CD player to listen to music or books on tape, etc. If you’re exercising inside, set up a TV so that you can watch it while exercising. On the other hand, you may just prefer peace and quiet. Do whatever makes exercise most enjoyable for you. You are much more likely to exercise consistently if you enjoy it.
  • Wear good shoes that are appropriate for what you’re doing. Injuries seriously affect your motivation to exercise. Most people, especially walkers and runners, wear their shoes far too long. Worn out shoes will make you much more prone to injuries. My absolute favorite place to buy shoes is “Road Runner Sports.” It has great prices, but most importantly, its catalog includes a great chart for determining which shoes are best for you based on numerous factors. Even if you don’t buy shoes from them, this chart is great to have

In life, we’re told to dream big. Reach for the stars. Go for the gold. While I think everyone would agree that having big aspirations is admirable not to mention inspiring, you should take a more calculated approach when setting fitness goals. It may seem counterintuitive to start small, but remember that you want to set yourself up for success not burnout or injury.

Think about it. How many times have you or someone you know set a huge goal to lose 50 or more pounds, or exercise for an hour six days a week, only to fall off the wagon a few weeks (or days) later? The truth is that even when people have the best of intentions and the willpower to set out and do something grand, without a plan and a smart goal, they stumble and are more likely to fail.

When you first set a goal, you’re full of energy and completely motivated, but over time those feelings can wane and your overzealousness can push you to do too much too soon. The fix is to define a progressive set of fitness goals that build on one another to help propel you toward that big dream or aspiration. Breaking a big goal into smaller, realistic goals can help you both mentally and physically. This method can also help you improve your fitness level gradually and safely, which helps to build confidence.

The first step to setting realistic goals is to really  think about your goal and write it down.

Then, ask yourself these three questions:

  • How big is the goal? – Is your goal only attainable in three months or more? If so, make a smaller goal or goals to get you to that long-term goal. Ideally, you should be able to reach the smaller goal in two to six weeks.
  • What does it take to achieve the goal? – This question addresses your goal’s frequency. If reaching your goal requires five workouts a week, but you can only get a babysitter two days a week, then you need to scale back your goal. Be realistic about what time you have to devote to the goal and be honest about your fitness level. Building your fitness base takes time, and being smart about increasing it will help you stay injury-free. As a general rule, never increase your weight lifted or your minutes exercised by more than 10 percent in any given week. Slow and steady really does win the race!
  • Can you see yourself reaching the goal? – You want a program that you can stick with for the long haul—not just this week. Be completely honest with yourself and ask if you can realistically see yourself doing what it takes to achieve the goal at hand. If you can and it meets the above criteria, then you probably have a goal within your reach.

What’s the number one reason you don’t exercise? If you said lack of time, I hear ya. Everyone is busy and we all want ways to squeeze our workouts into an already full day. Well, you’ll have to look for a new reason to skip your workouts because I’ve found the answer. I surveyed personal trainers all over the U.S. and asked them: “If you only had five exercises for your clients, which ones would they be?”

1: Squats

Why They Rock: Most trainers agree that squats are one of the best exercises you can do. Squats work your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves all at once.

How to Do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes facing straight ahead or angled slightly outward. Slowly bend the knees and lower hips towards the floor, keeping your torso straight and abs pulled in tight. Keep your knees behind your toes; make sure everything’s pointing in the same direction. Do not go lower than 90 degrees. Do this move 2-3 non-consecutive days a week for 12-16 reps.

 
 
 
2: Push Ups

Why They Rock: Push ups, like squats, are compound movements using almost all the muscles of your body. You’ll work your chest, shoulders, triceps, back and abs.

How to Do It: Position yourself face down on the floor, balancing on your toes/knees and hands. Your hands should be wider than shoulders, body in a straight line from head to toe. Don’t sag in the middle and don’t stick your butt up in the air. Slowly bend your arms and lower your body to the floor, stopping when your elbows are at 90 degrees. Exhale and push back up. Variations include incline, decline, wall pushups or, for masochists, one-armed pushups. Do this move 2-3 non-consecutive days a week and add a rep each time you do the exercise.

 
 
 
3: Lunges

Why They Rock: Like squats, lunges work most of the muscles in your legs including your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.

How to Do It: Stand in a split-stance (one leg forward, one leg back). Bend knees and lower body into a lungeposition, keeping the front knee and back knee at 90 degree angles. Keeping the weight in your heels, push back up (slowly!) to starting position. Never lock your knees at the top and don’t let your knee bend past your toes. Variations: front lunges, back lunges and side lunges. Do this exercise 2-3 times per week for 12 to 16 reps.

4: The Plank

Why It Rocks: The plank (or hover) is an isolation move used in Pilates and Yoga and works the abs, back, arms and legs. The plank also targets your internal abdominal muscles.

How to Do It: Lie face down on mat with elbows resting on floor next to chest. Push your body off the floor in a pushup position with body resting on elbows or hands. Contract the abs and keep the body in a straight line from head to toes. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat as many times as you can. For beginners, do this move on your knees and gradually work your way up to balancing on your toes.

5: Lat Pulldown

Why It Rocks: The lat pulldown works on the major muscles of your back (the latissmus dorsi), which helps you burn calories and, of course, strengthen your back.

How to Do It: Sit on the lat pulldown machine and hold the bar with palms out and wider than shoulders. Pull your abs in and lean back slightly. Bend your elbows and pull the bar down towards your chin, contracting the outer muscles of your back. Do this exercise 2-3 times a week using enough weight to complete 12-16 repetitions. If you don’t have access to a gym, try a one-armed row.
If you have a busy schedule, incorporating these five moves 2 or 3 times a week will help strengthen your muscles and bones, as well as burn more calories. Don’t forget to do some cardio exercise as well.

Exercising with a friend, or training together to get ready for an event that you have both signed up for has a lot of benefits. Having someone to run alongside you, makes the run seem to go by faster and will make more enjoyable – you will stop watching the timer and the miles tick by. You will enjoy the journey, rather than just the destination.

Unfortunately, when friends and family are not ‘on board’ with your fitness goals they can sabotage your efforts, intentionally or unintentionally. Have you ever tried to drop some weight or get in shape and have everyone at work and at home trying to convince you to ‘relax’, ‘take a day off’, or say things like ‘don’t be so serious’, ‘it’s just one donut, what difference will it make?’

One of the easiest ways around this is to build your crew around you. Get your friends and family on your side. Have a serious talk with them, let them know that this is important for your health, and that you have a goal and you really want to achieve it.

So – find a friend, set a goal, and start enjoying your training regiment.

1: Make Exercise Part of Your Routine

Exercise should be a regular part of your day, not something sporadic. Just as you set aside time for meals, sleep, kids and work, set aside time for exercise.

Pencil it in on your calendar, program it into your smartphone and stick to it just like you would any other important appointment. For best results, you may find that exercising at the same time and on the same days each week (such as first thing in the morning Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) helps you stay on track.

2: Give Yourself Permission to Spend Time on “You”

Many adults juggling work and family life find it difficult to justify taking time for exercise, as that’s time that could be spent with family, running errands or getting ahead at work. If you fall into this mindset, it’s time to give yourself permission to exercise.

This “me” time will not only boost your health on both physical and emotional levels, but it will provide an excellent example for your children on how to lead a healthy lifestyle. If you’re not feeling fit and healthy, you won’t be able to take care of the rest of your obligations, or your family, so let go of any feelings of guilt you have about taking time to workout.

3: Set Realistic Goals

Your fitness program should fit in with your lifestyle. This means you may head to the gym three days a week, then spend weekends out riding bikes with your family, ice skating, working in your garden, dancing, or playing sports with friends. Remember that physical fitness is not just about how many minutes you log on the treadmill, it’s a lifestyle that you can tailor to your unique needs and interests.

Keep this in mind when setting your exercise goals; if you know you’ll be miserable jogging at the gym, plan to get your cardio in by jogging around your neighborhood or hitting a challenging hiking trail instead. If you’re someone who likes the stability and convenience of gym equipment, plan more workouts at the gym.

4: Hire a Personal Trainer or Get a Workout Buddy

The beauty of having a personal trainer is not only their expertise in which exercises you need to get the best results … it’s the motivation factor, too. When you set appointments with a trainer, you suddenly have someone to hold you accountable, making it much less likely that you’ll skip out on your workout at the last minute (not to mention that you’ve invested money in it, too).

If a personal trainer is not in your budget, don’t worry. Getting a workout buddy — a friend, family member, colleague — can give you many of the same benefits on the motivation front. When you set up a workout schedule with your buddy, you both act as each other’s personal cheerleaders, encouraging one another to stick with the plan. You can also celebrate your milestones and exercise successes together.

5: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Working out is, well, work, and there will be times when you’d rather sink into your couch and put your feet up instead of heading to the gym. For these times when motivation is lacking, remember why you’ve committed to your exercise program in the first place: your health.

New research shows that exercise can help you prevent about two-dozen health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, obesity, depression, high blood pressure and dementia. It can even slow down your rate of aging.2 Plus, exercise will tone your muscles and reduce your body fat, helping you to look great on the outside, and boosting self-esteem in the process.

Just try to get benefits like these from sitting on the couch.

6: Make it Convenient

Exercise really should be an enjoyable part of your day, a time you look forward to and embrace. But keeping this attitude will be difficult if you have to travel a long way to the gym before you even start your workout. You’ll also be much less likely to stay committed if exercising is a hassle.

To make exercise as convenient as possible, pick a gym that is very close to your home or place of work. If you’re a morning exerciser, pack your gym bag the night before so you can grab it and go in the morning. If you exercise after work, bring your bag with you to the office so you can stop at the gym on your way home.

Another great idea if you have the space and budget is to purchase a few key pieces of exercise equipment for your own home, such as an elliptical machine, treadmill, or weight set. This is the most convenient option of all, especially if you like working out privately. You can also try a mix of at-home workout DVDs.

7: Fit in Workouts Even on Your “Off” Days

Life is busy, so even with the best intentions your workouts may sometimes get sidetracked by travel, work or kids. Learn to roll with the punches and on the days when you don’t have time for a regular workout, squeeze in some exercises on the sly.

For instance, bring an aerobics DVD with you when you travel so you can workout in your hotel room (or just hit the hotel gym). At the office, exercise at your desk by doing standing push-ups (place both hands flat on your desk, take a few steps back, and push!), or pumping your arms over your head briskly.

You can also do jumping jacks, squats and lunges just about anywhere, or try standing with your back against the wall, then lowering your knees to a 90-degree angle (as though you’re “sitting” without a chair) and holding for 60-90 seconds. You can even keep a set of 5-, 10-, or 20-pound weights near your desk and do some quick bicep curls while making phone calls.

When you’re out with the kids, try jogging a few laps around the playground while the kids play, or putting your little ones in a stroller for a brisk walk. If you’re exercising at home, let your child try to do yoga along with you, or use your infant as your “weight” and lift him over your head to tone your arms or hold him while doing squats to work out your legs.

If you have a new baby, place him flat on the floor and do push-ups over him (with your face over his) while keeping eye contact and making expressive faces.

Many gyms offer childcare services, too, which provide another option.

8: Keep it Fun

You’ll be much more likely to workout if you enjoy it, so incorporate a wide range of activities that appeal to your interests. Try kickboxing or dance aerobics one day, weight training, Pilates, swimming or yoga the next. This will not only keep you from getting bored, it will ensure that you’re working all of your muscle groups and getting both cardio as well as strength-training benefits.

9: Reward Yourself

When you’ve stuck with your exercise plan for a week, a month or more, stop to give yourself a great big pat on the back … or treat yourself to a special treat, like a massage or a new piece of clothing to show off your new fit physique. This will keep exercise in a positive perspective and help you to keep striving to reach your next exercise milestone.

10: Support Your Exercise Habits With a Healthy Lifestyle

As you become more physically active, support your newfound healthy habit by broadening into other positive habits as well. Eating right, getting plenty of sleep and keeping your stress levels to a minimum go hand-in-hand with exercise, and when combined are one of the best “prescriptions” for health and happiness out there.

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