ut here’s the thing. You and you alone are in charge of your mind, and with practice, you can adapt the way it thinks about anything – including exercise, and your approach to food.
Above all, act like a grown-up, and take responsibility. Taking the best care of yourself, through healthy lifestyle choices and enjoyable exercise, is the most rewarding form of preventative medicine there is. Keep your muscles strong, keep the range in your joints, move more efficiently and you will keep your body in shape and your mind sharp.
This week, our plan focuses on several top mind strategies for maintaining motivation, focus and interest, and gives you new exercises to stretch your capability once the basic exercises from last week start to seem easy. It also encourages you to think through any issues you might have with “emotional eating”.
As last week, the exercise expertise comes from personal trainer Christina Howells and the mind mastery from life coach Jacqueline Hurst.
Learn new ways to motivate yourself
It is essential to find a way to become passionate about exercise. It is so well worth it, and it’s the best natural way to enhance mood, reduce stress levels, build confidence and help fight depression. Creating a habit of exercise takes repetition, a little discipline to push past any initial resistance and a decision to commit to the process. Repetition builds a habit, and makes the new behaviour become a part of you.
- Make exercise a priority, and be consistent in what you do. Put your exercise sessions in your diary and regard them as important appointments that you need to keep, like an important business meeting. You have a duty of care towards yourself to stay as healthy as you can.
- Try pairing up and exercising with a friend. You are much less likely to bail out if you feel you are letting someone down.
- Create a workout playlist of music that motivates you and makes you want to move.
- Dress for success – get some workout clothes that you feel good in.
- Change your routines to avoid boredom, try new types of activities (again, take a friend with you).
- Be prepared for distractions and don’t think it’s “all or nothing”. If something gets in the way of your scheduled exercise session, then find a way to fit a shorter workout in instead. It is always better to do something than nothing (again, take a friend).
- Create “triggers” for exercise by planning sessions around another daily habit. Putting out your gym kit before you go to bed, to remind you to put it on, or take it with you in the morning, can do the trick (again, take a friend).
- Don’t overthink it. Just do it.
Focus on consistency, not results
Of course, you are working out for a reason, and hoping for visible changes in your body. But try to think of starting an exercise programme not as “six weeks to a new you” but as the first stage of your new lifestyle. It is good to have goals but it is really important not to become obsessed the results but rather learn to enjoy the process, be present in the moment and be grateful for the ability to be able to move your body freely.
Drop the comparisons
It’s never helpful. There will always be someone fitter, stronger, in better shape or better looking than you – perhaps in your gym, perhaps in your own family (and don’t get us started on the perils of social media, which could be designed to cause envy). These people are not you, and they don’t have your life, your body or your concerns. Comparing yourself to others will only create anxiety and lead to endless negative thoughts. So, compare and despair? Or move beyond this, focusing on your own self-worth? Your choice. It’s really difficult to drop the urge to score yourself against others, but once you can do it, you’ll find it is a liberation, like putting down a heavy burden.
Train smarter, not harder
If you have done the sort of exercise in the past that focused on duration/ the more the better, there may be a niggling voice at the back of your mind wondering whether short bouts of HIIT (high intensity interval training) and a few press ups and squats are really enough to get you fit. Tell that voice this: fitness is not about the time you put in or about beating yourself up. It’s about doing the sort of work that has been shown to give good results. Remind yourself that HIIT is a brilliant strategy and is proven to work for people of all ages and fitness levels. Remind yourself that bodyweight workouts not only make you move better, look better and feel better, but are also functional to life and daily activities.
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