Coming off the winter holidays I am sure that many of you got your fill of the small talk and catching up that comes with holiday get togethers. As soon as people ask me about my work and hear that I’m in the fitness and nutrition industry, I get ALL sorts of questions and interesting stories about their wins and struggles around food and exercise. I love it.
Of all the struggles I hear, staying consistent with an exercise regimen is hands down the #1 struggle people share with me.
So many of my friends and family members that I talk to share how hard it is to “stay on track” and stay consistent with reaching their exercise and fitness goals. They express some serious frustration at not being able to stick with something.
They feel overwhelmed… and responsible for not being successful.
In the past when someone shared a struggle with me like this, I would have been tempted to rush in as the Dietitian or Personal Trainer expert and try to “fix” their problem with a bandaid type approach.
In fact, I look back at my early days as a Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer and cringe a bit at the style of education I gave. While the actual recommendations I gave were sound, the delivery method did not lend itself towards creating long term solutions.
Through years of experience and learning from my work with hundreds of people, I know that the best way to ensure success is to first ask questions that help guide clients into figuring out what really lights them up.
Once a client has tapped into that passion and direction, then I can offer tools that they can use to successfully implement and integrate lasting change into their lives. Otherwise, it’s so easy to get off track and sabotage our own best efforts when we start something that we aren’t really passionate about and committed to.
So when I had a cousin ask me over the holidays for help with getting more consistent with exercise, instead of offering him a cookie cutter answer with a laundry list of “shoulds”, my first question back to him was “why do you want to exercise?”
Once we got clear on his “big why” motivating the change(to feel fit and flexible so he could move pain free and sit down on the floor comfortably), I followed it up with questions about what type of exercise he enjoys, what’s worked well for him in the past and what’s one thing he can start doing tomorrow.
Because the less we allow ourselves to get overwhelmed with all the “shoulds” the more we can dive into the “cans” right now.
For my cousin, he kept coming back to 20 minutes of exercise as his “can”. He realized he wanted to change his mindset from thinking that he should do 60 minutes of exercise (but rarely doing it) to knowing that 20 minutes done regularly is way more effective.
This is the story for so many of us.
We feel we “should” exercise for an hour most days. However, the reality for many people is that an hour long workout just isn’t going to happen. But most likely we can get in 20 minutes. So then let’s start there: give our all to those 20 minutes, be successful and get consistent with that so then we can build from there.
Starting with the “cans” takes us a lot further than failing with the “shoulds.”
HERE’S AN EXERCISE TO TRY: Write out as many “shoulds” as you can in 5 minutes.
To get clear on what specific actions you can start taking today (and that you will feel genuinely excited about and motivated to do), first sift through all those “shoulds” you have floating through your head about exercise. Take 5 minutes and free-flow write (without critiquing or editing!) a list of all the things you have read or heard about what you should do when it comes to exercise.
Here are some examples:
- Exercise for 60 minutes every day
- Workout at least 5 days a week
- Cardio is best for fat loss
- Always warm up and cool down
- Lift weights first and do cardio last (or the reverse! Cardio first always then weights)
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the best for cardio
- etc., etc.
These are just ideas, write whatever comes to your mind; really try to empty your brain of all the exercise advice you’ve heard throughout the years.
Set your timer for 5 minutes and GO!
Then go over the list and circle ONE thing that you can and want to do. Create just ONE thing (your “can”) that will be fun and therefore easy for you to get engaged and consistent with exercise. Start simple and specific.
Examples of some “cans”:
- Commit to walking to work every day
- Carve out 30 minutes of designated self care time every. single. day. Use this for exercise most days or for stretching, massage, baths or even reading on rest days. Put it on your calendar.
- Set an alarm for the evening to make sure you wind down and get enough sleep.
- If you aren’t already in an exercise routine that’s working for you, commit to 20 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise at least 3 days a week. Check out the Body By Banner YouTube channel if you want some free workout inspiration.
Focus on what you can do. Right now.
To help you stay focused and keep taking positive action, I encourage you to do the quick 5 minute task above and report back to me with what your one “can” is for the next few weeks. Accountability is key for successfully rocking our goals!
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I can’t wait to hear what you are going to focus on!