DON’T LET SHORT-TERM DISTRACTIONS SPOIL YOUR LONG-TERM FITNESS GOALS – HERE’S HOW
Story by Jacquie Clancy
Photo by Mike Lewis for Plaid Magazine (We Like To Work)
For some people, working out every day is as natural as brushing their teeth. For others, getting into the routine of exercising regularly is a hard habit to get into, and an easy habit to break.
After a few weeks or months of full commitment to an exercise regime, a vacation, overtime at work, or even a bad cold can completely derail the routine. Jill Duff, a registered holistic nutritionist and certified personal trainer in Toronto, notices a drop in commitment to exercising from her clients at particular times during the year.
“The summer usually comes with more social engagements involving food and drink and it is difficult for people to say no to invitations that are fun or obligatory,” says Duff.
Jacqueline Garay, a former member of the Canadian national swimming team and certified personal trainer (also in Toronto), agrees.
“People seem to lose interest in the summer months mostly because they are enjoying the good weather. A lot of people start to go out more often after work to patios, parties, or up north to cottages. The slowest months…are July and August,” says Garay.
As summer fizzles out, the gym may seem a bit sparse, but as the season changes, so could the attendance in gym-goers.
“When people have more time to themselves to reflect on what they want in their lives, health goals often arise and this creates a return to the gym. This is why I believe September and January usually bring surges of interest in returning to and starting workouts,” Duff explains.
However, if the change in season isn’t enough to get you back in the gym, don’t worry. As Duff points out, everyone has a different motivating reason for exercising and the key is to pin-point exactly why working out should be a crucial part of your schedule.
According to Duff, “somewhere inside all of us there is usually an emotional connection that determines our level of motivation and desire to realize [health] goals.” Her suggestion to finding what it is that drives us to sweat-it-out on the regular is to write goals down on paper. If the goal, the obstacles to achieving it, and the reasons behind it are visualized, they become harder to ignore.
Garay uses the a similar technique with her clients. “The best way to motivate clients is to say, ‘Remember when we started and you promised me your commitment level to this goal was a 10 out of 10? Well, you are still on track, however I would hate to lose all the progress we have made so far’. By bringing up what they have already accomplished, it also helps them realize that all the work they are doing is not in vain, they are working towards something.” For Garay, it is also important for her clients to celebrate the little victories along the way. By making smaller, short-term, attainable goals, it creates a more rewarding experience and realistic strategy. For example, Garay suggests setting a goal to run 5k; once that is achieved, work towards a 10k and eventually aim to complete a marathon.
Regardless of overwhelming summer social lives, or work commitments getting in the way, sometimes a lack of progress in weight loss is enough to spark the desire to just give up. But keep in mind, just because the number on the scale hasn’t changed doesn’t mean workouts aren’t giving you results. Looking at yourself every day means you aren’t able to notice the smaller changes in your body. Garay explains the key to getting past this hurdle is to “remain positive, focused, and consistent.”
So, what if the routine of working out isn’t the problem – you still see consistent results, but you are just plain bored with the routine? There are always ways to add variety and new challenges to everyday workouts. A few of the ideas Duff suggests include getting outside, running stairwells (inside or out), using park benches and playgrounds, taking a class you have never tried, hiring a trainer, or finding a workout buddy.
Garay points out that doing activities that you actually enjoy is the best way to ensure your commitment stays strong. “The best exercise is the one you enjoy the most and what works for you the best. Fitness is also about stress release, not stress gain; you just add to stress if you are doing something you hate and you are less likely to go if you are dreading it,” she says.
In other words, if the thought of getting on a treadmill for an hour makes you want to cry, than try a spin class or cardio intervals instead. “Tons of gyms offer free day passes so you can check out all the things you may be missing out on. There are also a lot of fitness videos and podcasts you can download,” Garay suggests.
The bottom line to making sure your exercise routine doesn’t phase out is making a plan and staying committed to it in the long run. If there are setbacks such as busy weekends, or a few too many Thursdays spent with some cocktails, don’t abandon the workout plan completely. Plans (or excuses) will always come up, but being able to stick to your fitness goal by adding variety and challenges to your regime will ensure you stay motivated and healthy.
Jill Duff is a certified exercise physiologist, registered holistic nutritionist, Adler-trained coach, and certified personal trainer. She is also a trainer and nutritionist with 3 Monkeys Fitness in Toronto where she trains employees in a large corporate environment, and offers home training sessions. Duff can be contacted by visiting her website, www.jillduff.com.
Jacqueline Garay is former team-member of Canada’s national swim team and a certified personal trainer. She has been working as a personal trainer in and out of her client’s homes for eight years and is also a certified strength and conditioning coach, certified pilates and yoga Instructor, and holds TRX, kettlebell, spinning, and swedish ball certifications. Garay can be reached by checking out her website, www.jacquelinegaray.com.