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Staying Committed to Exercise

The Difference Between Success and Failure


Updated January 08, 2010

It isn't easy staying motivated to exercise, especially if you're a beginner. In fact, most veteran exercisers would probably agree--some days they got it, some days they don't. If you're trying lose weight and make exercise a habit, you may be surprised to learn that there's not much difference between you and people who exercise regularly. There's no magic pill that brings discipline and motivation to your workouts. So what do they have that you don't have? It's all in the way you think.

The Doldrums

With many of my personal training clients, I've noticed some fairly regular trends: After about 6 to 12 weeks, the doldrums set in and that's when many of them quit. While this is not a very scientific study, my experience tells me that something happens after that initial excitement of starting an exercise program. First, the enthusiasm fades. Second, most clients haven't seen significant results yet. The combination is devastating and, many times, this is the moment many people give up.

What's so frustrating is that many people quit just when they're on the verge of success...at both making exercise a habit and seeing fat loss. Below are some of the mistakes that contribute to failure to exercise:

  • Focusing on the scale. Weight loss isn't going to happen right away. For some folks, it takes months to see significant changes. When starting a program, it's best to set measurable goals like getting a certain number of workouts in each week or lifting a certain amount of weight.
  • Working too hard. Newbies sometimes go at their new workout programs like veteran exercisers. Starting easy and working your way up to more frequent exercise makes your workouts more enjoyable and gives your body time to adjust to exercise.
  • Not working hard enough. On the other hand, some people don't take their intensity high enough to promote weight loss results. Learn the right way to Monitor Your Intensity
  • Comparing yourself to others. If your friend is losing weight faster than you are, it doesn't mean something's wrong with you. We all lose fat at different rates. Try to keep the focus on the gains you're making, not someone else's.
  • Giving up too soon. If you're not seeing results yet, giving up is the last thing you should do. If you've been working out consistently, you may be well on your way to weight loss. Whether you've seen results or not, you ARE getting something out of exercising regularly. Think better sleep, more energy, better quality of life...is any of this sinking in?

Aside from these issues, there are a few other things that stand in the way of you and success. As I mentioned above, the only real difference between a veteran exerciser and a struggling exerciser often lies in how they think. Check out the table below for a comparison on how a successful exerciser gets past exercise obstacles and how a quitter usually handles things.

Positive and Negative Thinking Habits

What You're Thinking Quitter's Thinking Successful Thinking
I don't want to workout today. I quit I'll just do a warm up. If I still don't want to exercise, I'll stop.
This workout is boring. I quit Maybe I'll try a new activity--like that spinning class.
I'm too stressed out to exercise. I quit I'll feel more relaxed if I get in a quick workout
I missed my last few workouts, why bother? I quit I've gotten off track, but I'm ready to get started again. I'll be back to where I was in no time.
I haven't lost a single pound. I quit If I quit now, I'll never see long-term results.
I don't have time. I quit I'll do what I can until things slow down. Something is always better than nothing.

Now that you've gotten some insight into the things that stand in the way of success, it's time to challenge yourself and your ideas about exercise. Next: Take the Challenge
Related Video
Simple Exercise Warm Up
Develop Exercise Habits With Your Children

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