What does exercise and fitness mean to you? Is it hard and boring? Something you do to lose weight or get toned? A necessary evil, or something you know you should do more of but just can’t find the time, energy and / or motivation for?
Or, is it something that’s vital to your health and wellbeing and that makes you feel great?
As a women’s health and fitness coach, I’d be willing to bet that the majority of you might fall into one of the first few categories. Because from my experience, most people come to me with a body related end goal in mind. Yet however enthusiastically they set out, they often find that doing the work they need to get them there is hard!
They lack the time, they struggle to self motivate and the rewards they want don’t come immediately. I’m always at pains to point out from day one that hiring me is no magical, easy solution to getting where they want to be. I can only spend an hour a week with them, and while I can supply the expertise, knowledge and motivation, the rest of it is up to them. They have to put the work in themselves.
And this is why the other thing I also do from day one is to get my clients to think about their goals differently. Focusing relentlessly on weight loss, toning and how we look or looking for the ‘quick fix’ often means that willpower and motivation run out quickly. The first couple of weeks can be easy, but then the reality of the fact that you’ll have to keep going for weeks, months, years into the future starts to kick in. And that can easily damp down those initial flames of enthusiasm.
It’s the reason that so many people start diets again on a Monday or work out 5 times a week for a couple of weeks and then do nothing for months.
And if this is all sounding very familiar, it could be time to start changing the way you see fitness (and, of course nutrition).
With my clients I do a few things:
- I never ever promise a quick fix
- I talk a lot about habit formation
- I encourage my clients to think both about intrinsic and extrinsic goals
What this means is that while my clients may not see overnight change, what they do experience is lasting change and for me, that’s so much more important because it means an end to yo-yoing and beating ourselves up for being ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It leads to greater body confidence, better fitness and health and a better relationship with ourselves.
The real key to this is setting intrinsic, as well as extrinsic goals. What I mean by this is that we shouldn’t just be focusing on how we look, but also on how we actually FEEL. Fitness is not a dress size or a certain number on the scales. It’s about having energy, confidence and resilience. And often when we focus ourselves on how we feel it becomes an absolute game changer. The other stuff just follows on from there!
From my experience, setting those intrinsic goals and focusing on all of the other good stuff that fitness brings us in terms of quality of life means that we approach fitness differently. And this different approach is what gives us what we need from fitness to make it a habit and keep going for the longer term, rather than just in those shorter bursts when we happen to feel dissatisfied.
It can help us to slow down, choose different, more enjoyable activities and to appreciate how great we feel when we’ve moved. So, if you’re beginning to think that you need to take a different approach, what are my top tips:
- Start small – just a couple of short sessions a week are a start. You can build from there when you’re ready.
- Choose something based on what you’ll enjoy rather than on how many calories you’ll burn. If you hate being in the gym – don’t go to the gym!
- Make time in your diary. We’ll never actually stumble across the time to exercise – it has to be a scheduled part of your week.
- Set some goals before you start and think in terms other than how you look. E.g. you might want to run a 5k, commit to a regular yoga class, lift heavier weights in the gym or just gain in confidence.
Creating the exercise habit is absolutely possible. It doesn’t mean that you’ll jump out of bed every morning enthusiastic to work out and it will take a bit of time and patience while you build the habit. But creating a mindset that favours the intrinsic over the extrinsic sets you up so much better for an exercise routine that works for you and that you’re able to maintain for the long term.
Browse the website to find out more about how I can help you to transform mind and body for the long term.