Exercising Your Options Starting — And Staying With — A Fitness Program Requires A Solid Game Plan

Many people have to juggle the responsibilities of work and family. There never seems to be enough time in the day to do everything. Sleep becomes sacrificed, as well as any personal relaxation time to keep up the pace. Life becomes a daily roller coaster of events that merely lead to the end of the day, without a thought of the future. 

When life starts to feel overwhelming, it is time to review your priorities. Make sure you are spending your time doing the most important things and eliminate other activities as needed in order to simplify your life. Some of the most important aspects of a healthy, balanced life include: health, family, work, spirituality, and recreation. The top priority should be your health. Although this is taken for granted by so many “apparently” healthy people, when it fails or drops off even slightly, it affects all aspects of your life. Without a balanced diet and exercise program, your energy, concentration, and creativity decreases, which affects all parts of your life.

Everyone needs to include exercise and a balanced diet in their life. This is key to living a full life, being active, energetic, having less stress, and being happy. But how does one start? Fitting exercise into the daily routine can be a challenge at first and a challenge to stick with; therefore you must have a game plan. Here are some ideas to incorporate into your plan:

• Commitment: To achieve long-term health, you must be totally committed. You must really want to be healthy, energetic, and feel good. Understand that health or, as an example, a weight loss goal, is not an event but a process. Health does not just happen. Exercise and diet must be consistent for benefits to show and last.

herefore, physical activity must be undertaken almost daily for a minimum of 30 minutes (American College of Sports Medicine guidelines). Although that may sound like a lot at first, you can do more than one exercise bout to make up the 30 minutes. Make a commitment to completing exercise for most days of the week. Make it part of the daily routine.

• Select enjoyable activities: Exercise is fun when you do something you like. Try a few activities and find the ones that you like. You must find the activity that fits into your lifestyle. If you must be home, choose a piece of home equipment or video. If you enjoy being social, find a group activity or spend time doing fun activities with your family or friends. Enjoy the outdoors by walking a dog or running in a park. If you enjoy watching TV, find a gym that runs your show and use a treadmill or other equipment. Looking forward to the activity will lead you to actually doing it.

• Set realistic goals: Focus on making exercise a habit rather than looking for each pound to fall off. Incorporate healthy eating into your life slowly by eliminating one bad habit or adding one healthy behavior at a time. Measure your success by how well you stick to your exercise program and eating plan. Make your action plan to achieve your goals fit with your lifestyle and your responsibilities.

• Set specific, measurable goals: How do you know if you reached your goal if you don’t know exactly what it was? You must state your intentions as clearly as possible. A goal could be lowering your cholesterol, increasing your HDL, or decreasing your waistline. The goal should include a number, a dress size, for example. Make the goal measurable and specific. When you set your goals, include both short- and long-term goals. A short goal might be to drop to a smaller dress size while longer term you would like to run in a 10K race.

• Think positive: Focus on what you’ve achieved thus far, not on what you have yet to achieve. Every little step toward your goal is yet another step closer to your goal. Building the habits of exercise and healthy meal planning are positive steps toward achieving your health goals. Reward yourself for even the littlest thing accomplished. The rewards should not be food related, but can be a shopping spree or a movie.

• Anticipate your distractions: Learn how to overcome distractions and still fit in some exercise. When you anticipate a busy day, plan your exercise within a small time slot or have two possible time slots, having a backup plan. Your day might be packed with so many of your responsibilities but with some planning and dealing in advance with predicted distractions, you can stay on track with your exercise program. By prioritizing exercise into your life, you will find a way to set aside the time. As you deal with distractions, keep renewing your commitment to exercise — and review why you got started in the first place.

• Build a support system. Why do most exercise and diet efforts fail? It’s because people have not built a strong support system that holds them accountable for their efforts. Many people will not even tell others that they are on a weight-loss program for fear that they will fail. By holding yourself accountable to someone other than yourself, you will greatly increase the odds that you will achieve your health goal. Studies conducted by Stanford University have shown that because of accountability via a phone call, people are 90{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} more likely to continue to exercise than without the call. Now, if a person is accountable to someone who is an expert in the fitness field, can you imagine how powerful that phone call or meeting will be?

Changing your current life to a healthy and balanced life is a challenge, but once accomplished, you will have gained more self-confidence than you could have ever imagined. Because it is such a challenge, surrender to it and find ways to overcome all problems in the way to achieving your goal. You need to have a solid plan to achieve success because … failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Francesca Lewis is a certified fitness professional and Master Fitness by Phone® coach: (413) 565-4311

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