“Keep a journal with both content and process oriented entries.”
Your Transformation Journey
So, you want to start on a successful exercise program! Excellent! Whether this is your first effort, or your 10th, the team at Svelte Yeti Health and Fitness is here to help you design your path to fitness. Today, we have ten suggestions that will help you incorporate exercise into your day-to-day life, that is both safe and sustainable.
Launch Yourself Into The Stratosphere
Maybe you watched an inspirational YouTube video, or had coffee with a fiend who shared their latest weight loss success. Motivating, right? Inspiring? Absolutely! Motivation and Inspiration comes from many sources. Consider inspirational impulse a good place to start. However, if you want to see results, sustainable results, it is important to broaden the scope of your end game.
Starting an exercise program is one part of a lifestyle transformation plan. Moreover, transformation is a lifelong journey. Your initial goal may be to drop weight. In actuality, you must reforming your approach to life, one step at a time, with new habits to carry you forward.
Adopting An Active Lifestyle
For some, considering an exercise program, especially when put into the context of long-term lifestyle change, feels overwhelming. The trick is to map your journey before you get started. You are doing more than adding exercise to you life. You are adopting activity throughout your day, not just isolated segments. The following tips are designed to form new lifestyle habits, sustainable habits that carry you through for the rest of your life:
One – See Your Physician
This should go without saying. Before starting any exercise or fitness program, see you physician for a comprehensive physical. This is especially true if you consider yourself a healthy person with few medical problems throughout your life. “Silent killers” that are easily overlooked (e.g.; high blood pressure) but are quickly identifiable during a physical exam.
Two – Evaluate Your Current Level of Activity
Map your physical activity as a general baseline, based on your current level of activity. Dig deep! Count the number of hours you spend moving, compared to the number of hours you spend sitting. What is the ratio?
Like many of us who have jobs sitting in front of a computer and attending meetings, you will notice a very small proportion of time throughout the day in motion. Have a long commute to and form work in your car? That is all time spent sitting. Don’t be hard on yourself either. Society is quickly drifting towards inactivity as a norm.
Three – Keep an Exercise Journal
Now that you have documented a clear activity baseline, it is important to keep track of the changes you are about to make. I suggest keeping a journal. Both paper and digital work great – choose the one that fits your personality best.
Your journal should include a note about your baseline, and regular entries about your progress. Consider both content and process oriented entries. Content entries are specific to measurable outcomes (number of minutes walked, etc.). Process oriented entries focus on your experience, such as how your workout felt that day, and frustrations you experience along the way.
Four – Choose An Activity
There are endless ways to get active. It is crucial that you pick something you enjoy. If you have never liked running, choosing running as your form of physical activity will set you up for disappointment. On the other hand, if you love golfing, even if you do not have a ton of golf experience, then golf just might be the activity for you.
Let’s not forget about cost. Getting active is virtually free. Purchasing a gym or yoga membership for $100.00 a month, will leave you feeling taken advantage of, especially if you don’t use your membership regularly. However, if you love yoga, then look for special promotions at a local studio. Adhering to a low-cost approach in the beginning, leaves money in your pocket that can be spent on essentials, such as proper shoes, etc.
Five – Dream Big – Set a Long-Term Goal
Now for the nuts and bolts! In your journal, write about one, maybe two, long-term goals you want to achieve. Long-term goals are months, even years, into the future. Think of long-term goals as the big picture, not an end-point to achieve.
Avoid weight loss goals with a number attached to it. In other words, avoid, “I will lose 100lbs in the next 12 months.” Instead, focus your goal on the fitness experience. Thus, you might set a goal like, “I want to walk a comfortable 15k in the next twelve months.”
Six – Measure Progress – Set Several Short-Term Goals
Short-term goals are the bread and butter of achievement. Designing well targeted achievements along the way, creates motivation for your journey.
Write multiple short-term, measurable goals; measurable goals are great for evaluating progress. It is common to have five or more short-term goals that you are actively engaged with. Consider daily, weekly, and monthly measures. Moreover, your goal must be achievable, but somewhat challenging.
For instance, if your baseline data indicates that you walk ten minutes a day during your lunch at work, one concrete measurable goal would be to walk fifteen minutes a day during your lunch, five days in row. At the end of your week, you will have walked an additional 25 minutes.
Seven – Enlist Friends
Never travel your journey alone. It is guaranteed that you will experience low points. Periods of feeling discouraged are a normal part of the process that we must learn to work through. It is easier to get through these times when you have support.
One quick way to make friends with similar transformation goals is through groups. If running is your primary activity, join a running club. Most are free, and there are running groups for every personality and fitness level. Join a group that feels supportive and creates connections between members.
Eight – Increase Effort Incrementally (Using the 10% Rule)
You now are participating in an activity of your choice, you have created a close intimate group of exercise companions, and you have a clear long-term goal with several measurable short-term goals to get you there. What else could you possibly need?
Advice! You are now in the zone. The momentum feels incredibly motivating, and at times, even overwhelming. It is important to now step back from your flow experience and evaluate your progress.
Some days, while out on your chosen activity, there is no stopping you. Step back and evaluate your pace with a scientific eye. As you create new short-term goals, design achievements that are incremental in nature. For instance, lets say that you can now run 15k a week. If you suddenly add an additional 5k on top of that for next week, you are venturing into the unsustainable. Instead, build on your 15k by only 10% each week. The 10% rule prevents burnout.
Nine – Respect Peaks and Valleys
Every lifestyle change, given a number of weeks and months, will have periods of incredible excitement, and others with outrageous disappointment. Respect both peaks and valleys as each will be your teacher, far more than any words here can express. Simply put, respect the process that peaks and valleys offer as insight into ourselves.
Ten – Celebrate
You have arrived! You are not at the end of your journey, because there is no end. Be joyful! The new habits you have incorporated into your day-to-day life, will continue to show their fruits, for the entirety of your life. I suggest that you celebrate your success at important junctures. For example, let’s say you decided to eat a plant-based lifestyle as part of your transformation journey. After six-months, celebrate your achievement with friends – Take them out to a vegan restaurant! You deserve it!
Change is monumental. Few are able to start the journey, let alone actually live it. I am always overwhelmed by the stories of transformation I hear about every day, both in my work as a clinician, and as a writer for Svelte Yeti Health and Fitness. Always remember how amazing you are, and that the limits we experience in life are usually those set by ourselves. Set yourself free, with a plan.