Seven days into 2008 and, proudly, I can say each day has included exercise. Just 14 more days to go and I’ll have my habit back in place. How many times have I gone through this cyclical thing?
Exercise and fitness become more and more important to our health as adults age. Conversely, it becomes easier and easier to blow off a workout – skip a day – due to hectic schedules, a weary body and episodes of “The Office,” which interrupt the best-laid plans.
On my road to training for and participating in the 2008 Buffalo Triathlon, for a second year in a row, I knew going into my conditioning program that in order to improve performance, I need to take certain steps. Allowing myself to miss a run, ride or weight room workout (swimming doesn’t kick in until March 1) simply won’t help me attain my goals.
Local Minneapolis fitness guru, Chris Freytag, offers three simple tips designed to help anyone stay on track as they work to achieve their fitness goals:
1. Commitment: The first step is often the hardest. Freytag says you can talk about changing your life repeatedly but until you cross that line deep inside you, you won’t walk the talk. She suggests writing and signing an exercise contract with specific goals spelled out that will get you to the point you want to be. Ask friends or family members to keep you honest. Your commitment to health and fitness is about honoring a promise to yourself as seriously as the promises you make to others.
2. Convenience: The more convenient the exercise you choose, the more often you’ll do it, says Freytag. The best form of exercise is whatever you do—as long as you like it and it fits into your lifestyle. If getting up at 5 a.m. and hitting a fitness center doesn’t suit you, don’t make that your plan to get train. For me, my road back on a trainer, coupled with a home weight bench and dumbbells gets me through the winter. If I need to switch things up, I’ll run or ride at my company’s fitness center after work or at lunch.
3. Consistency: As noted in my opening graph, consistency results in habit-forming activity. Freytag says that gradual changes add up to big results in the end. It’s not what you do today…it’s what you do tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. Consistency at a moderate pace will more likely create a habit.
And I’ll add a fourth tip of my own:
4. Birds of a Feather (i.e., surround yourself with people who motivate you): Friends make the difference when it comes to moral support. It’s great to have good friends you can count on to be at the bar right after work. But while you’re training, lifting 16 ounce brewskis doesn’t count. Embed yourself with like-minded people. Runners, cyclists – people with goals you relate to and can mirror.
The challenge in any life goal isn’t about simply showing up. It’s about making the effort, taking yourself to the next level of preparation and surprising even yourself with the results.
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