Keeping Motivated

You’ve started a fitness program.

You’re exercising three times a week  and feeling pretty proud of yourself.  But wait—you’ve been here before. This  is the point where you always seem to  be unable to stick with it. The excuses  mount, the workouts get missed and  the next thing you know, all your hard  work is behind you. Literally.  Well, never fear. This time, you’re  going to stick with your program. Follow  these guidelines to stay motivated and  on track with your new lifestyle.  Pace yourself. New exercisers often  attempt too much, too soon during the  first week of their exercise programs.  This can lead to soreness, fatigue and  injuries. Plus, unfamiliarity with movements and equipment can sometimes  prove frustrating. Begin slowly. Work  at a comfortable pace and gradually increase the time and  intensity. Remember that it is natural to feel awkward at this  point and you aren’t in this for the short term.

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Think long term. Look at the big picture. Focusing on exercise for just a couple of months might provide you with some of the benefits and results you are striving for but not over the long term. When you stop exercising, the body gradually returns to its original condition. Make sure your program includes variety, flexibility and fun. If you enjoy working out, you’ll want to keep it up.

Focus on the pleasure. Beware of the pleasurable aspects of your workouts, such as the early morning sun, the camaraderie of friends or the beauty of nature around you.

Recognize all the benefits. Concentrate on the many benefits your body is reaping, not just in appearance, but in general health. Be aware of your increased energy levels, better sleep patterns, ability to cope with stress and your enhanced selfesteem. These are just a few of the benefits many exercisers enjoy. There is no better high than after you finish a workout. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when you experience it, you’ll know it. No matter how you feel when you start exercising, each and every time out, you will feel a sense of accom-
plishment when you do it and you’ll feel better afterwards.

Watch for danger signals. Once you’re into your program, it’s easy to miss workouts due to family and business commitments.Don’t fall off the wagon. If you miss workouts, feelings of guilt and self-blame can pile up, making you feel worse. Remember that conflicts with work, social, recreational or emotional events or issues are inevitable and that they’re completely acceptable reasons for missing exercise sessions. However, instead of focusing on the missed exercise sessions, focus on your successes—and get yourself back on track, at the gym or in the pool.

Solicit support. Let your friends and family members know that their continued support means a lot to you. If you are feeling your commitment slip, talk to a friend or fitness professional and develop a strategy that will help keep you exercising. Don’t ever let people around you sabotage your efforts or make you feel bad about exercising or eating healthier. We suggest you avoid these negative people because they will only cause
you to feel bad about a good thing.

Reward yourself. Fitting exercise in can be inconvenient and even difficult some days. Devise a way to reward yourself for the efforts you are making and be proud of your progress. Treat yourself to a special cold drink at the end of a run, new workout gear or a massage. These are wonderful ways to congratulate yourself. Or make up a reward chart and give yourself a treat when you achieve certain goals. Just remember to try to avoid using too many high-fat foods as a reward.

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Change may be want you need. We find that changing your exercise program can make a big difference if you find that you are lacking motivation. Joining a community program, cycling instead of walking, or buying a piece of fitness equipment can help you keep motivated.

A Log. A log helps you keep track of your exercise routine. Joanne likes to hang a calendar in her bathroom and write down what activities she has done over a month. At a glance, she can quickly see if she is exercising regularly. If you do not keep track, it’s easy to think that you have done more than you really have.

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