Shorter days, colder weather, and increased obligations are rallying for attention. Each wants to be your primary excuse for postponing workouts over the next several months. Despite the magnetic temptations pulling you in other directions, stay committed to fitness …
You’re in a routine. You’re in your groove. You’re on your way to goals.
You sprained your ankle. You gained five pounds.
How do you react? Go the extra mile and make it work. When life’s inconveniences (like a pulled muscle or stuck scale) threaten your commitment to wellness, here are some suggestions for operation “mind-over-matter.”
Don’t Be a Scale Watcher
Those who have experienced weight loss success agree that frequent weigh-ins can be a roadblock to reaching your ideal weight. It’s parallel with a “watched pot never boils.” Instead, redirect your focus on accomplishing an overall healthier lifestyle. Weight loss is only one aspect of this endeavor.
Take notice of your increased energy level, decreased stress level, and improved strength. These exercise benefits are more immediate than anything measured on a bathroom scale. Let this feeling carry you through your routine to the next one. Make this realization. It’s a sign of more perks to come. Eventually, the pounds will shed. In the meantime, you may start to lose inches as fat gets replaced with muscle. Give yourself credit for needing a smaller waist size. Treat yourself to a new belt or a slimmer pair of pants.
Muscle does indeed weigh more than fat. It’s not just a tale weaved by a cynical exerciser stuck with that last 10 pounds to lose. Member Christine Danelson, who’s performed on Broadway, emphasizes that weight on the bathroom scale is not always important. “Sometimes, I actually gain weight from a good exercise program. It’s all muscle,” says Christine, who manages to be fit even when carrying the extra weight of her latest character. The Center helps maintain a healthy lifestyle, regardless of body size.
You can accomplish that extra mile even if occasionally fueled by junk food and television. It takes six weeks of repetitive action to create a habit. In that time (and even beyond), there are occasions when we overindulge a sweet tooth. Or, maybe only a finger gets a workout with repeated hits to the snooze button. Don’t ditch your efforts. Renew your commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Although cliché, each day is a new beginning.
Make a “no-exceptions rule” with respect to your health. With no exceptions, you are 100 percent committed to your goals. Regardless. You wake up each morning with direction and determination rather than wavering indecisively. It’s a simple and liberating concept. Energy and time that would be spent on self-debates and inner struggles are available for accomplishing aspirations.
Chief spiritual officer and author Ken Blanchard differentiates interest from commitment. “When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.” Hold yourself to the high standard of true commitment. Don’t let a typical setback like an extra scoop of ice cream or a lazy rainy day be an excuse to fall short.
If your goal is to look like the cover model of a fashion magazine, you might want to reconsider. Unless capable of real-life airbrushing, picture-perfect bodies are not humanly possible. Work to attain your best personal self, inside and out.
Instead of trying to sculpt yourself to mirror the media’s image of perfection, set a goal that’s personally meaningful. Exercise to increase stamina in your daily activities, improve your sport, or fit into this season’s latest jean style. Which is more inspiring: Increased energy for playing with your kids or six-pack abs that are only exposed during swimsuit season? Exactly.
Pardon Injuries but Not Workouts
Even the most physically fit get injured. Remember your commitment to traveling the extra mile. If the extra mile was lined with palm trees and always sunny, you’d need an alternate route to bypass the crowds. Create an exercise routine that considers your injury, along with its imposed limitations and restrictions. A personal trainer is skilled at adapting fitness programs to skill level and circumstances.
A problem shoulder doesn’t mean you can’t work your lower body with cycling or treadmill time. Torn ligaments in your ankle shouldn’t restrain you from using a boxing bag. Water workouts provide an excellent solution for exercising while injured. Warm water soothes aches and the buoyancy reduces strains on joints and bones. The entire skeleton is supported, allowing swimmers to move more easily through the full range of motion.
Use this opportunity to change up your routine. Discover innovative ways to workout. Try a new Group Fitness class. You’ll avoid muscle atrophy during recovery, as well as boredom and plateaus. Visit the Center’s Web site for specifics on Group Fitness classes and schedules.
When you think you can go no further, visualize perfectly reaching the finish line. This often propels you down the extra mile as a winner. According to a study from the School of Sport and Exercise Science at Wintec, Waikato Institute of Technology, New Zealand, self-psyching can increase muscle power by eight percent during strength training. Brad Hatfield, PhD, professor of kinesiology at the University of Maryland in College Park, indicates positive mental energy can help activate additional motor units, stimulating muscle fibers enough to pump out more reps.
Instead of cutting your session short, decrease in 10-pound increments the weight involved. The goal is to complete all the reps in good form, even if with a lesser amount of weight. If you’re burning out during a Group Fitness class, lower the intensity by walking through some of the moves. With water workouts, slow the pace so you can complete the laps.
If you can’t determine when you’ve pushed yourself too far, speak with a personal trainer or Group Fitness instructor. Their expertise can help decide whether you maxed out or called it quits too quickly.
Whether it’s that first—or extra—mile, keep your engine going through distraction techniques. Notice your surroundings or think about weekend plans. Keep your mind off fatigued muscles, even if redirected to inane thoughts of your running shoes. Mentally recite (or mumble, if you’re that spent) mantras. Instead of, “I’m tired. I’m finished,” try “I can do this. Look how far I’ve come!”
As motivational speaker and author Wayne W. Dyer, Ph.D. says, “It’s never crowded along the extra mile.” There may be speed bumps and pot holes, but you’ll still be a healthy step ahead.
“Recharge Your Exercise Motivation,” by Carey Rossi at www.fitnessmagazine.com.
The Success Principle, by Jack Canfield with Janet Switzer. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005.
Introduction photo: www.flickr.com/photos/lululemonathletica/4883555529