“About 40 percent [of people] never exercise, about 30 percent exercise only sporadically and only 12 percent do regular rigorous exercise. That means that 88 percent of Americans are not getting enough exercise.”
Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., author of The UltraMind Solution
People ask me all the time how they too can develop a solid commitment to their exercise program. Let me start by taking you through a gallery of bad examples:
Client A: Goofs off until it’s time to get serious. Because she sets a deadline for herself, she tends to overeat and let herself go before she “gets serious” because she knows she will be cracking down soon and foresees months of boring exercise, Spartan eating and misery. Her view of exercise: Punishment.
Client B: Every time she thinks about exercise, all she can think of is what is wrong with every single option you suggest. It’s either too boring, not hard enough and therefore not effective for trimming her thighs, or paradoxically too hard and therefore no fun so she won’t do it, or finally too expensive (if she has to pay to attend a class or hire a trainer). Her view of exercise: It’s never going to work.
Client C: Definitely on the self destructive path, she joined a boot camp and hurt her back so badly that she couldn’t do any exercise for three months. Her view of exercise: Must be incredibly difficult in order to be effective, otherwise why bother, so why bother.
Client D: A spiritual student, she has decided that her body “doesn’t matter.” Meanwhile, if the roof of her house was leaking, she would definitely take care of it. She thinks it might be vain to exercise so doesn’t want to make too much of a big deal about it, but meanwhile feels secretly miserable about the way she feels and looks. Her view of exercise: Conflicted. She sets herself up to lose whatever choice she makes.
Client E: This person actually hires a trainer and shows up regularly but just goes through the motions and isn’t fully engaged while there and doesn’t follow up with healthy eating or getting enough rest. Her view of exercise: Something to check off the list. Ho hum.
Client F: Exercise program? Do you mean we are actually supposed to exercise, that this possibly migh t have anything to do with being healthy, fit, thin or happy? Her view of exercise: Denial.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
Trust me, I could go on. Many of these clients have not quite caught on to the games they are playing, or even if they have, they don’t know how to quit.
Remember, people only change if they WANT to change or they HAVE to change. Most people fall somewhere in the middle. The secret to turning up your motivation to change anything is to turn up your WANTING. Here are a few suggestions on how to do that:
Focus on the rewards of exercise, not the obstacles to doing so. If you were a track and field athlete who only saw the hurdles, who knows how often you would trip yourself up. But if you focus on where you are going and how much it means to you to get there, the hurdles won’t even matter. The secret is to focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. In the same way, don’t even think about the time it will take away from your schedule to work out, how much it might cost, how inconvenient your favourite instructor may be. That would be fooling yourself frankly because it costs a lot more to have cancer or heart disease, it is far more inconvenient to your daily routine to suffer from diabetes and it feels a lot worse to suffer from chronic depression – all common diseases that regular exercise can help prevent and even cure. Develop a MORE attitude – focus about how much MORE healthy you will be, how much MORE energy you will have, how much MORE better looking you will be and then DO IT.
Find an exercise coach who can satisfy your dominant drives. After years of studying many systems of metabolic typing, one of my favourites is the one developed by Carolyn Mein, author of Different Bodies, Different Diets. Dr. Mein, D.C., points out that each of us has dominant needs that fall into four categories – physical, intellectual, emotional or spiritual. Most people have two dominant drives that must be satisfied. Once we have satisfied these, we can move on to be even more integrated. Many people are not physically driven so even though they would be healthier if they exercised, they can’t find methods or teachers that also satisfy their intellect, emotions or souls. I personally like to lead my classes in ways that address all four aspects of every human being and coach individuals in ways that satisfy what they really want in addition to what they actually need.
Make a simple choice to be healthy. Give up the “on a diet, off a diet” mentality, and do the same with your exercise program. Find activities that you enjoy doing, put them on your calendar and make a commitment to show up, even if or maybe even especially if you have to pay for a trainer and want to show up so as not to lose on your investment. Fit, thin people keep routines.
Get real. If you have injured yourself, the truth is you will have to fix what is broken in order to get back to exercising normally and to get the results you want from an exercise program. Find someone trained in corrective exercise who can help your whole body work properly again. You weren’t meant to move just one arm, only your lower body, etc. etc. To live up to your full potential as a human being you will want to move towards wholeness.
Get educated. Where you hold fat on your body is a tell-tale sign of how balanced your hormones are. Killing yourself in your exercise program does not work for any person with a damaged metabolism or severely imbalanced hormones. I have had countless clients who actually gained weight at various local boot camp programs or with trainers who were making them run and train at high intensity six days a week. You may be surprised to learn that a moderate intensity exercise program that actually feels good can do more for you in the long run than pure torture.
Catch on to your game and cut it out. Are you playing “poor me” with your diet and exercise program, as in “poor me, no matter how little I eat and how much I exercise, I still can’t lose weight.” Or maybe you prefer to be a victim. “Aunt Sally looked like this – all the women in my family end up with big hips.” Tell yourself a little truth and cut yourself free of your story.
Engage your mind, body and spirit in your work out program. Find an activity that will fully engage you while you are doing it. Reading a magazine on the stairmaster does not count. Weight lifting experts have long touted the value of putting mind into the muscle. Yoga espouses the wisdom of union. As you become more present, not only will you find yourself experiencing greater results in your body, you will also discover the joy of being in the moment.
Decide what you really actually want to look like. Be honest with yourself. If you actually, really, really want to look different than you do now, then chances are you are going to have to commit to a regular exercise program, no excuses. If you show up with a lacklustre commitment, you will see lacklustre results when you end up looking in the mirror.
Realize that you are a soul but it happens to be riding around in your body at the moment. When you accept the fact that you also have an important purpose (even if you don’t know what it is yet), you will realize that your body is worth taking care of because you will probably need a boatload of energy to do whatever it is that you hope to accomplish. You may possibly be able to save the whales if you are sick, exhausted or in so much pain that you are whining to your friends every day, but I would be willing to bet you would do a much better job if you felt great all the time, and that is going to necessitate exercising regularly.
Find the balance. If you have been reading Total Fitness newsletter, attending any of our seminars and classes, or working with us one on one, you will know that if you work in exercise, attitude, rest and nutrition, you can make a moderate but consistent effort in all four areas and get great results. The truth is, you don’t have to kill yourself, you just have to be accountable to yourself each and every day in all four key variables. B=ExAxRxN Your Body = Your Exercise times Your Attitude times Your Rest times Your Nutrition
Catherine On Public Television
Catherine Carrigan will be appearing on Creative Living With Sheryl Borden, a magazine-formatted “how to” program that is carried in 40 states and 118 markets on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
We’ll be discussing the four steps to Total Fitness, how to overcome sugar cravings and how to heal a damaged metabolism. Stay tuned to find out when you can watch the shows in your area. We will also be posting the video on our website.