When it comes to starting and sticking with a new exercise program, nobody undermines our efforts better than we, ourselves, do.
The most common stumbling block to developing new fitness habits isn’t time or money or access to a gym or clean workout clothes (don’t laugh, I’ve heard this one more than a few times).
It’s that little voice in our head that tells us “it’s okay to miss a workout” because we’re “tired” or “don’t have time to fuel properly” or “already exercised enough this week” or “can’t find any other time to have coffee with Sally”.
No matter how excited you are to get started with a new program, it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually tire of it and start to look for excuses not to exercise. It’s human nature. We love things when they’re shiny and novel. Not so much once the bloom is off the rose.
The difference between people who successfully push through the excuses and under-mining self-talk and those who don’t?
They expect the excuses to happen and plan for how they’ll deal with it when their inner saboteur inevitably shows up.
Tips for overcoming your inner saboteur:
- bullet-proof your excuses. Know yourself well enough to draw up a list of the excuses you’ll be most likely to use. Draft a response for each excuse. Remind yourself of your ‘why'; the reason you started down this path in the first place. (Not sure what your ‘why’ is? Scroll down to the bottom of this post and grab a copy of my free e-book “5 Steps to Exercise Happiness”. The first step is finding your ‘why’.)
- adopt a ‘just 10-minutes’ attitude. Tell yourself that when it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing. Commit to 10 minutes. If, at the end of that time, you really are too tired to continue (or Sally texts you wondering why you’re late for coffee…), finish up and commend yourself for what you did, rather than berating yourself for what you didn’t. Oh, and if that 10 minutes was exactly what you needed to get jazzed about working out, continue on. Sometimes all you need is a little movement to overcome that activation threshold.
- create rules around exercise. Decide what your ‘bare minimum’ exercise week looks like. Create rules to maintain this routine. My two exercise rules? “Always work out on Monday” (for me, missing a Monday paves the way for a less-than-stellar workout week) and “Never take more than 2 days in a row off” (I find it incredibly difficult to come back to the gym after 3 days off).
- enlist an accountability partner. Have a friend or family member who’d be happy to give you a swift kick in the pants from time to time? I know I do ;-). Enlist their help by giving them your workout schedule for the week and asking them to send you a quick text or email when you’re supposed to be heading out the door. Even better? Get them to commit to exercising with you. Promise to support and encourage each other to follow through with the plan, even on days when one of you isn’t feeling it.
- hire a personal trainer. In addition to teaching you proper exercise form, creating a program that’s individualized for you and progressing that program at appropriate intervals, your trainer won’t allow you to succumb to your inner saboteur. Just knowing that she’s waiting for you at the gym is often enough to overcome the excuses in your head. (And if they’re still hanging around when you arrive for your workout, she’ll be happy to assign a few burpees to help banish them…)
What excuses does your inner saboteur tempt you with?
Tell me your favourite way to give that negative voice ‘what for’!