Be Fit For Life

with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan

For exercise success, find your true motivation

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I’m tired of reading the hopeful and well meaning articles titled  a “New year, a New You!” Enough of the tired cliches. You don’t have to throw out the “old you”, to get a new you. Just figure out what aspects of your lifestyle you want to improve.

Think of the real reasons you want to be in shape. Studies have shown that when people have an immediate incentive, they’re more successful. For example, training to manage a 10 mile hike as part of a special trip with loved ones is more compelling than “I want to feel stronger.” Getting down on the floor and playing with your kids and/or grandkids without straining anything is potentially more meaningful than having loose hamstrings.

“Immediate rewards that enhance daily life — more energy, a better mood, less stress and more opportunity to connect with friends and family — offer far more motivation,”  writes Dr. Segar, author of the book .“No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness.” .  Try to  “think of physical activity as a way to revitalize and renew yourself, as fuel to better enjoy and succeed at what matters most,” recommends Dr. Segar.  I always think of how flight attendants advise putting on your own oxygen mask first so you can better assist others. This is a great metaphor for how you are ultimately more useful to others when you are providing yourself with replenishment. One of the best ways to do this is to stay physically and mentally fit through consistent exercise.  I often work with women who are so used to taking care of others, that their best motivation is derived from the ability to meet the needs of friends and family rather than themselves. Over time, I enjoy seeing that morph into the satisfaction they find in taking care of themselves.  The better they feel, the more able they are to care for others.

Some of the main benefits of exercise are feeling more  energetic, focused, upbeat and productive.  This is often a stronger incentive to continue your exercise routine than the usual goals of losing weight and feeling more toned.  Exercise doesn’t steal time from work and other obligations; it actually enhances your productivity. You’ll be clearer and more focused after a workout.

There are many more ways to insure you’ll keep up the exercise,  even during the holidays when regular classes, exercise buddies and/ or trainers aren’t available. Check out the following tips and see which ones resonate for you:

  • Do you have a regular workout regime in place?  Once exercise is a habit, you’ll feel something is missing when you don’t work out.
  • What types of activities have you enjoyed in the past ? Were you able to sustain this exercise for an extended period?
  • What time of day is best? Can you make this a consistent routine?  For many, morning is best, before business or family needs kick in.
  • Your chances for success are better if  your activity is accessible, convenient and fun.
  • Think of shorter and manageable workouts- if you can’t fit in 30 minutes, 10-15 minutes still counts.
  • Think of the way you’ll feel right after you exercise- besides feeling that you’ve accomplished a goal, you’ll likely feel physically and mentally energized.

Read here for more details:

You may have additional reasons for exercising, and if so, I’d love to hear about them. Exercise provides countless benefits but each person has his/her individual reasons for keeping up a regular habit.

Find your true motivation to stay fit, and stay with it.  So, here’s to a happy, healthy and fit New Year!




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