“I’m going to the gym every day,” I often promise myself after a period of inactivity, “No excuses this time!” I always start out strong: I’m in the gym working hard every morning, feeling like this time I’m going to stick with my plan. Except then my daughter gets sick…or work gets very busy…or a friend invites me out for happy hour and suddenly my motivation—my speeding train to Gymtown—comes to a grinding halt.
How can we prioritize healthy exercise as part of our daily lives? We sat down with a personal trainer who sees his clients go through this struggle every day. He knows the answer to overcoming our lack of motivation lies in setting realistic, achievable goals and having someone to keep you accountable.
“Consistency is key,” remarks Joe Aben, Certified Personal Trainer and Owner of Excellence in Fitness. Joe has been training people of all skill levels for over 25 years and has seen how life can interfere with his clients’ best-laid plans. Joe and his team have a plan to handle the issue of consistency:
“For our personal training clients, we use a Personal Fitness Contract (PFC). The PFC allows us to work with our clients to set realistic goals, with benchmarks at three months, six months and 12 months,” says Aben, “We ask our clients to write their goals by hand, as the act of handwriting (not typing or dictating) makes the task more real and provides a sense of urgency, priority and responsibility.”
The act of writing down goals in the company of someone who will help to keep you on track is a powerful thing, but Aben reminds his clients that, “We will assist them in every way we can to help them reach their goals, but we cannot do it for them.”
What other tips does a successful trainer use to keep his clients’ eyes on the prize? Having a support network outside the gym made of family and friends is a big part of a successful plan.
“Let your friends and family know that you are working hard in the gym and that it would be helpful to have support from them and be sensitive to certain situations where eating and drinking is involved,” says Aben.
He also encourages his clients to keep a journal that addresses their emotional and mental state so that during difficult times, there is another outlet for stress and complicated feelings. Aben also suggests taking regular measurements to track progress—there’s nothing better than working hard and seeing the benefits of your work at the end of each month.
Finally, what can you do right now to motivate yourself towards change? Aben suggests taking a step back and living each day in the best way you can. He suggests that we should “be in the moment. Don’t be so hard on yourself! You’re not going to reach your goals overnight. Keeping that ‘present’ mindset allows you to feel daily success while motivating you to stay on target to reach your goals.”