Hang on to those good exercise habits

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Following an exercise program can be so tough.  Sticking to it, making every effort to not fall off the wagon wheel or fall short is a challenge in itself.  In Rebecca Stetzers article on making exercise habits stick for good, you will find the motivation to stay committed to your desired exercise habits.

Exercise at home

Start small by breaking your bad old habits and building great new positive habits that will help you to reach your fitness goals.

Maintain your exercise habits

What motivates you

Weight loss is often the main reason people start exercising. However, what about people who don’t need to lose weight? Or what if you get frustrated when, after a month of exercising, you haven’t lost a pound? Without having other reasons to get up and move, the motivation to keep exercising can easily wane. 

While the benefits of regular exercise are endless, it won’t seem all that important unless you find your own personal motivation. Do you need to lower your blood pressure or improve your cholesterol? Do you need a non-food way to cope with stress and anxiety? Experience trouble sleeping at night? Want more energy? Exercise can help with all those issues and many more. If your own reasons for exercising don’t offer enough motivation, consider enlisting a friend. Having a companion who’s counting on you can keep you from falling off the workout wagon.

Get up and move

When starting an exercise routine it’s common to go in guns blazing, and after a few weeks or months you find yourself exercising less and less. Why does this happen? It’s easy to let other things get in the way of exercise, such as demanding work and/or family schedules, a mild injury, illness, inclement weather and/or lack of time.

You need to treat workouts like other commitments, such as appointments, taking a shower or brushing your teeth. Block it on your calendar, and let family and friends know that it’s a priority. If you can’t make time for 30 minutes of exercise all at once, split it into three 10-minute sessions. Do 10 minutes of push-ups, lunges and ab exercises before your morning shower, take a 10-minute brisk walk over lunch, then do part of a workout video or some yoga after dinner. Avoid the all-or-nothing attitude. If a life event keeps you from exercising for a week or two, don’t despair. Get right back into it. Even 15 minutes one day is better than doing no exercise at all.

Is it difficult to exercise because you can’t get time away from your kids? Exercise with your kids. Very young children can dance or doing silly actions to fun songs. Older children can find enjoyment in active game such as “tag,” a scavenger hunt or tossing a Frisbee. Children also need time each day to move and be active, so by involving them you’re doing wonderful things for their health, too.

Most importantly, make sure you have a Plan A, a Plan B and even a Plan C so you can make exercise happen no matter what. It can be frustrating when your original plan to walk outside over lunch doesn’t happen because it’s raining. Your back-up plan could be walking inside around your office building, or up and down the stairwell. Your Plan C in case a meeting runs into your lunch break would be to walk before leaving work to go home.

Make SMART exercise goals

It’s important to not be wishy-washy when it comes to your exercise goals. To say, “I’m going to start exercising on Monday,” is very vague and involves no real plan, two things that are important in sustaining a new habit such as exercising. Often the goals we set may determine our level of success, but instead we blame it on lack of willpower.

Why not start this Monday morning?

To increase your chances of success, think SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based. When making an exercise goal, consider where, when, what and how often or how much. Your goal should be based on what you can do short- and long-term, and should be something you can do.

Give your exercise vision a time frame, whether it is days, weeks or longer. For example, someone who is starting out with no exercise at all with no gym access but likes to be outside in all kinds of weather could have a goal that looks like this: “I will walk for 10 minutes around my block before work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.”Write your goal and tell family and friends you trust so they can offer support and motivation. If you’re struggling with what to do for exercise, consider these resources: check out an exercise DVD from the library, check with your local Park and Recreation Center for classes, find an area hotel that offers access to their pool, contact a public school or mall about times to walk indoors.

Eat well

For most casual exercisers who workout for an hour or less, there’s no need to eat back the calories burned during a workout. There’s also no need for fancy sports drinks or protein supplements; plain water and carbohydrates and protein from regular food works just fine. It is important to properly fuel yourself for a workout. You can’t expect your body to perform what you want on an empty tank.

If you exercise first thing in the morning, eat something small like a fruit smoothie or a slice of toast with peanut butter for some energy. If you exercise late-afternoon after work, it may be a good idea to have a small snack since it’s probably been a few hours since lunch.

While you are at it, build healthy habits that will supplement your exercise routine.

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