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Making Exercise a Priority

Learn how to make exercise an important part of your life


Updated April 21, 2010

The other day, I met with two very different personal training clients. *John is a successful financial planner with a wife and two teenagers. He works 10 hours a day while trying to juggle family and social obligations. His problem is, he has a hard time scheduling and following through with his workouts. The other client, *Suzanne, owns her own construction business with her husband. She has an active, busy child and works up to 14 hours a day. Even with her obligations, Suzanne works out every morning and considers her workouts as necessary as eating and breathing.

So, why does John struggle to exercise while Suzanne can't live without it? One reason? Priorities. For Suzanne, exercise is necessary for making her day better. For John, exercise is just another obligation. Are you like Suzanne, or are you more like John? If you struggle to make exercise a priority, figuring out what you really want for yourself is your first step in the right direction.

What are Your Priorities?

One thing humans tend to do is say one thing while doing another. Never is this more apparent than when it comes to exercise. Think of how many times you've heard someone say (or heard yourself say), "I really want to lose weight...I should start exercising." However, if that person really wanted to lose weight, wouldn't he be doing everything he could to make it happen, including exercising? If that sounds familiar, what happens between what you say you want and what you actually do? It usually comes down to your priorities.

One reason we sometimes don't follow through is unrealistic expectations. When you expect one thing and get something entirely different, you wonder why you bother at all and we often have distorted views of what exercise should be doing for us. We expect:

  • To lose weight quickly. Many people expect to see results after just a few weeks of exercise, even though that isn't realistic for most of us.
  • Exercise to be temporary. We think we can exercise for a few weeks or months, quit and it will somehow stick.
  • Exercise to change our bodies the way we want. Despite the fact that most of us have clear genetic tendencies as to where we store fat, we still think that doing certain exercises will reduce problem areas.
  • To see results on our timetable, not our body's. Weight loss involves many factors, some beyond our control. Once you know you're burning more calories than you're eating, your body responds in it's own time.
  • To be motivated every day. You won't always feel like exercising. It's up to you to keep yourself motivated using whatever tools, goals and resources at your disposal.
  • Exercise to be easy. Changing your body takes hard work on a consistent basis. It means overloading your body so it can adapt by becoming stronger and slimmer. Low-intensity workouts are great for health, but won't be as effective for fat loss.

Being unrealistic about what to expect from exercise is just one way we sabotage ourselves, sending exercise to the bottom of our to-do lists. You can change that by setting realistic goals and taking action to make exercise more important for you. Start with this quiz, Is Exercise a Priority in Your Life? and then learn more about what you can to do to charge of your priorities.

Next Page: Take Charge of Your Priorities

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