Lifestyle Change A Few Secrets for Keeping Your Exercise Program on Track

written on March 13, 2009 by Ellen H Brown

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Recently, one of my friends, who's been struggling to keep her exercise routine on track, accosted me during my workout.  "What's your secret?" she asked, seemingly exasperated. " You always seem to make time to get to the gym no matter how busy you are."

Exercise has become such an integral part of my life, that I had to stop for a moment and think about what she was asking.  Years ago, I made a commitment to exercising, and now it's a habit.  But that wasn't always the case.  Once upon a time, I, too, used to struggle to keep my exercise program on course.

So, I thought it might be helpful to share some tips with you, if you have an on-again, off-again relationship with exercise.  Keep in mind that there is no one size fits all strategy for launching and maintaining an exercise program, because we are all so different.  But these are some strategies that have worked well for me and some of the clients I coach.

1.    What's in it for you?  Before you begin exercising, be clear on why it' so important to you. While the answer may seem obvious to you, everyone has a different reason.  And keeping your payoff in mind can go a long way toward keeping you motivated on days when you'd rather lounge on the couch and watch reruns of CSI rather than hitting the gym.  So, why do YOU want to exercise?  Do you want to look better?  Have more energy?  Head off heart disease?  For me, exercising is a no brainer.  It gives me loads of energy, lifts my spirits, and with a family history of heart disease, I feel like it's a good "insurance policy" for keeping a chronic condition at bay.

2.     Decide when you're going to exercise and write it on your calendar.  While this doesn't work for everyone - especially people who like to be more flexible, it can be helpful for those who can always find something better (or more fun) to do than exercising.  Writing it down, helps it become a habit, something you know you're going to do everyday or every other day, whatever you decide.  It's like an appointment you're making with yourself.

3.     Find a form of exercise or movement you enjoy and mix it up if necessary.  One of the reasons many people stop exercising is that they become bored with their routine or "hate exercise."  Some people even hate the word exercise because it reminds them of a memory from their past --often from childhood -- when exercise was far from fun.  So choose a form of movement you enjoy whether it's walking, running, dancing, or swimming.  Give yourself permission to experiment.  And if you don't like what you're doing, change it.

4.     Meet up with a Friend - Some people love to exercise with a friend.  Not only does it make the experience more fun for them, but it adds a measure of accountability.  Because when you know that your friend is counting on you to go walking or is going to meet you at the health club, you're more likely to keep your commitment.

5.     Hire a coach -- Working with a coach can really help you establish and maintain a routine, when you're having trouble going it alone.  That's because a good coach can be encouraging and give you the extra push that you need.

6.     Make Exercise A Lifelong Habit - Over the years, I've come to think of exercising in the same way I think of brushing my teeth.  It's a healthy habit that I can't do without because of the way it makes me feel and look.  And while there was certainly a time when exercise felt like just one more thing I "had to do," today it is an activity I look forward to.  Even on the days when I feel like doing something else, instead, I know that a trip to the gym will give me a little lift.

7.     Be Gentle with Yourself - Since you are only human, there will be days when you "mess up" and don't follow your exercise program to the nth degree.  So don't beat yourself up.  Because if you do, you'll probably feel worse.  And you might even stop exercising entirely.  Instead of giving up, forgive yourself and get back on track.

Could you use a little help making a healthy change in your life? If so, I'd love to help out! Visit my website at http://www.wellnessjourneys.com to sign up for a coaching package that's right for you or to schedule a complimentary session. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world!

To learn more about living a healthy lifestyle, sign up for my e-newsletter at http://www.wellnessjourneys.com Wellness Journeys: A Holistic Approach to Coaching

Ellen H. Brown is a certified life coach, based in Cleveland, Ohio.

Copyright 2009 Ellen H. Brown

Disclaimer: The information provided above is educational only and should in no way be considered medical advice. Always seek your doctor's permission before starting any exercise program.