Staying Committed

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Last month as I was reflecting on our 7th anniversary and our original charter members, I began thinking about what it is that allows some of us to stick with our exercise programs and others of us to stumble. Your intention was sincere. You decided to get in shape and nothing was going to stop you this time. Those were your thoughts at the beginning of the year or maybe even yesterday. Now the holidays are behind you and school or work has you snowed under. Now the fitness enthusiast that you were has suddenly disappeared, due mainly to a new set of priorities and time restraints. It’s not always easy to find time to fit exercise into your busy schedule, and unless you arrange your schedule for time to workout, it won’t happen. How do some of the world’s busiest and most successful people manage to exercise regularly when many of the good intention people can’t find the time?

One important difference is often their attitude toward fitness. You have to believe in the value of exercise before you can become fully committed to it. A few of the many benefits of exercise include reduction of body fat, control of blood pressure, lowered blood sugar, increased muscle and joint strength, flexibility, increased bone density and cardiovascular endurance. Don’t think of exercise as a waste of time or as time away from work. It can make you a more effective worker. Exercise will clear your mind and allow you to think more creatively and release tension and stress you obtain through the day, improving your health and attitude as well. You will have improved concentration, which can translate into better communication, better decision making and working smarter. Scientific fact supports the health benefits of physical activity, so, THINK FIT! If past failures keep you from developing a healthy attitude toward sticking to an exercise program, just remember, each day you’re getting older and wiser.

Use past failures to learn what you need to do to make your new program more realistic and more rewarding for you. Find something about exercise you enjoy, workout with a friend or just use the time you exercise to enjoy time alone. More importantly, reward yourself for achievements you make, giving yourself something to look forward to after your workout.

Although changing a habit is never easy, the following tips can help you succeed in staying committed to an exercise program.

  1. Include activities you enjoy.
  2. Set realistic goals.
  3. Anticipate things that will interrupt your program.
  4. Decide beforehand how you will cope with those interruptions.

Once you realize the benefits of exercise and have a positive attitude, the next step is to decide how much exercise you need. This will depend on your individual goals, lifestyle, and the other priorities you have. Exercise time can vary from 20 minures, 3 days a week for the person with very little time that wishes to relieve stress and maintain a general level of fitness to 1- 2 hours,  5 to 6 days a week for the seasoned fitness enthusiast or athlete.

Despite the best of scheduling, some days things will happen to conflict with your exercise plans. Don’t get discouraged when this happens and scrap your whole program. Remember, exercise is not an all or nothing proposition. Give yourself permission to take a day off without guilt as long as you maintain your long term commitment to your health and well being.