Updated: Jan 24, 2021
When you discussed your resolutions with your friends, did you declare a fitness-related resolution, like dropping or gaining weight, getting toned, increasing your strength, eating healthier meals, or something like running or walking more?
Did you already join an online fitness program, hired a virtual/in-home personal trainer, or thousands of dollars of equipment? Or, if they're open during the pandemic where you live, did make your way to the local gym or fitness boutique studio and sign-up for a membership? If you did, that’s fantastic! You’ve taken that first step.
In my personal training certification course, we learned about The Transtheoretical Model, which describes 5 stages of behavioural change.
Pre-contemplation – People don’t realize that they need to make a behaviour change.
Contemplation – Intention starts to develop, and people are thinking about making a change within the next 6 months.
Preparation – Small steps have already been undertaken, like purchasing equipment, creating a workout schedule, or booking an appointment with a nutritionist or fitness specialist, with the goal to take action in the next 30 days.
Action – In the last 6 months, you’ve been in the active process of making the change. You're already working out or following a meal-plan, for example.
Maintenance – The behaviour change has been maintained for at least 6 months. You’re working hard not to fall back to the beginning of the process.
So, by booking a personal training session, subscribing to an online fitness program, or purchasing that gym membership, you’re right there in between the Preparation stage. To get to action, you simply need to show up.
However, did you know that out of those who make new year’s resolutions, 2/3 of those people set fitness related goals? Out of that number, 70-75% have given up before hitting their goal and about half of that group was in the first 6 weeks of the year.
These were results from a survey that was conducted online, within the United States, for Bodybuilding.com in November 2012, among 2,071 adults ages 18 and older.
It’s an unfortunate reality.
People quit the gym, their drive towards their goals, or don’t work out as frequently as they would like because they most likely felt defeat. They work out twice a week, 3 times a week, yet the results are not seen quick enough after a month. They don’t look like that fitness influencer they follow on social media. For some, going into a gym can initially be an intimidating experience. They may not know how to use the equipment. Or, just picking up a very light weight for a bicep curl can be interpreted as weak, especially for men (and their egos), preventing them from returning to the gym in fear of ridicule from their peers. Or, the more common excuse, they’ve decided that there’s really no time. The number 1 reason I hear all the time. It’s a like a skipping record.
BODY FEEDING THE MIND
It’s incredible how the body feeds the mind. It’s well documented, in countless studies, how physical fitness benefits the mind.
Do you ever notice how good, or possibly wonderful, you may feel after a calm or brisk walk, a 15- or 30-minute high intensity workout, or how about a simple 5- to 10-minute flexibility routine?
As you get moving, your body goes to work, beyond what you see, and generates endorphins and enkephalins, hormones that bind to opioid receptors and can make you feel awesome, like nothing can stop you. There’s an increase in self-esteem. Your language changes to a positive dialogue with yourself and those around you.
According to PsychologyToday.com, the likelihood for depression decreases and mental health is maintained as we age. Without going into the science of it all, “Exercise directly affects the brain.”
Just imagine what would happen if exercise was part of your daily routine. I’m not talking about hardcore, high intensity training every day but, a walk or a light to moderate physical activity, like Active Recovery, in between workouts. If you can work out at least 2-3 times a week with something in between and a full rest day, you’re on the right track.
What if I told you that quitting your resolutions won’t be in the cards for you? What if I told you that you have it in you? That you already have the secret weapon within you?
It’s your MIND.
That’s right! That gray matter between the ears is a very powerful component to your fitness. It’s not only a supporting actor in your physical fitness.
Conditioning The Mind
In some of my earlier speaking engagements, I’ve always opened up the conversation asking, “What does the word “fitness” mean to you?” I got answers like strong, gym, boot camp classes, eating right, even DOMS but only 1 or 2 people would quietly say, “mental health.” I was expecting that outcome. However, it’s proof that we still forget about what is maybe the most important muscle in the human body.
In the same way we condition the body to be stronger, more resilient, through physical training, we must strengthen the mind in order to better respond to a challenge, not react.
It requires just minutes a day of mindful practice to train the mind. To acknowledge our thoughts and letting them go. Sitting with our emotions, understanding them, rather than becoming our emotions. Mindfulness helps us stay on target, sticking to the game plan.
Many successful high performers squeeze in some time for mindful meditation to tame the chaos in the mind.
You must be thinking “Great! Coach wants me to meditate”. Of course, you should, I’m not going to stop you but I’m not telling it’s the only way. You can even practice mindfulness during your workout routine. It’s all about being PRESENT.
I personally believe that the missions of many fitness coaches should include guiding people to create a strong and solid foundations to be more resilient, in both the physical and emotional realms. Gone are the days of simply counting reps.
Feel the Change Versus See the Change
What if these people were mindful of how they FELT, how their bodies FELT, now that they're working out regularly? I’ve seen it with all my clients. After 3 to 4 weeks of regular training, I’ll ask them how does going up the stairs feel, taking out the trash, or just getting out of bed. The answers are always positive, and you can actually see the spark of realization in their eyes.
It’s about the experiencing the journey, not just waiting for the end results.
Focus On YOUR Workout
What if the person was present in their workout, putting their mind’s eye on the movement, focusing on the form, the engagement of the supporting muscles, and the BREATHING? You wouldn’t believe how many times I have to remind people to breathe.
Well, that person will only see the 10 lbs they're holding and not their neighbor’s weight load. They'll see the challenge to complete the set with the weight load until they get stronger. At that point, they’ll be presented with a new challenge opportunity and increase the load by 5%, pushing the limits of their muscles and minds once again.
When being mindful towards your own workouts, you’ll definitely decrease the chances of injury. Your only competition is the one staring right back at you in the mirror.
In June 2018, I was tired, rushed, and not focused while dead lifting 280 lbs. At the 3rd set, 8 reps in, my back kicked in. I found myself unable to move for a good 2 to 3 weeks. I dreaded sitting in the chair or getting in and out the car. It was definitely a lesson learned.
In a setting outside the fitness space, when starting a new job, for example, focus on learning to the new role rather trying to compete with the experienced colleague sitting right beside you.
Choose to Make Time
What if you realized that making time is a choice? That you can still get in a good workout in 15 minutes.
Schedules can look chaotic and the default reaction is “I don’t have time”. Is this an obstacle? Yes. However, it can be an opportunity to take a step back and create an efficient schedule to get the most out of your day and get after your fitness goals.
Being an in-home and virtual personal fitness coach, my hours are scattered throughout the day. If someone wants a certain time slot and it overlaps, I’ll see where we can make it work before giving telling them I can’t. Also, as I mentioned in a previous article, I keep time blocks for myself. It’s ME time. Time to get in my workouts, blog writing, podcast recording, or spend time with the family.
Choose to make time to nurture relationships and personal growth.
The Early Morning Wake-up
There’s actually a time of day when you're almost guaranteed to get stuff done: Early Morning.
We’re talking about 5:30 AM, 6:00 AM. It’s a horrible thought, I know. But, what if you went to bed earlier, like 10:30 PM? Social media will be around tomorrow. That show you PVR’ed, it’ll be there tomorrow. I’ve seen people workout as early as 4:30 AM. It's possible for you, as well.
Early Morning Wake-up Experiment
Here’s a little experiment you can try. Pick a weekday to wake up early. Prepare your clothes (or workout clothes). Your alarm clock, aka, your phone, that in the bathroom. Set it 15 minutes earlier than usual. Do that for 3 weeks. Then add a second day and wake 30 minutes earlier instead. Before you know it, you’ve developed an early morning routine.
Sticking to new, healthy habits is not easy. There will be moments when you feel your’re falling behind on what you promised to yourself. I’ll simply say this: be forgiving to yourself. Remind yourself why you’ve embarked on this new fitness journey. And when you step off the path, you’re allowed to get back on and take that next SMALL step forward.
Presses Releases. (2019, January 09). New Study Finds 73% Of People Who Set Fitness Goals As New Year's Resolutions Give Them Up. Retrieved January 2021, from Bodybuilding.com: https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/2013-100k-transformation-contest-press-release.html
Sarah Gingell, P. (2018, March 22). How Your Mental Health Reaps the Benefits of Exercise. Retrieved January 2021, from PsychologyToday.com: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/what-works-and-why/201803/how-your-mental-health-reaps-the-benefits-exercise
Wayne W. LaMorte, M. P. (2019, September 9). The Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change). Retrieved January 2021, from Boston University School of Public Health: https://sphweb.bumc.bu.edu/otlt/MPH-Modules/SB/BehavioralChangeTheories/BehavioralChangeTheories6.html