Use Baby Steps When Trying to Achieve Lofty Exercise Goals

Article originally published in

By Nancy Keny

You think you don’t have time to incorporate an exercise program into your already packed day? The truth is, you can’t afford not to. The following strategies will help jump start you into action.

1) Check with your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.

2) What would motivate you to start a fitness plan?

What will you gain from an exercise routine? Weight loss, a better self-image, more energy, less stress, a longer life with a healthier body? Focus on the positive aspects.

How will your life be different? More energy to play with your kids, to pursue outside work interests, a more positive outlook?

What is the number 1 motivating factor for choosing fitness as your goal of choice? Health, energy, better body image, sense of well-being, sense of accomplishment, fit into clothing ….

Write down on an index card your number 1 motivating factor. Keep it in clear view throughout your day to encourage you to stay on track.

3) Decide how many days per week you would like to exercise.

If your goal is 5x per week, only commit to 3x per week so as not to get discouraged but to get encouraged. Creating a greater chance for success is highly motivating.

4) Decide how long you want to exercise during each session.

If you are just beginning a program & your goal is 1 hour at each session, chunk down that 1 hour to 20 minutes for the first two weeks. The key is to just get you jumpstarted and into any action.

Do not try to take on the Final Goal in the first day or week. How many people do you know who join a health club and go 6 days a week, work out for 2 hours each time and after 3 weeks you never see them again? That approach usually leads to frustration, being overwhelmed and giving up once again. Allow yourself smaller achievable goals to get you started in a success mind set and pace.

5) Choose exercise activity

Let’s say you have determined your weekly routine will be 3x per week for 20minutes, decide on an activity you will do and where you will do it.  Choose one that is easy for you and that you enjoy doing. Whether it’s walking around the building or up and down the steps at work for 20 minutes or working out at the fitness club, do it at first for only 20 minutes. You can do anything for 20 minutes. Gradually increase the time.

6) Obstacles

Write down what you think will get in the way and prevent you from your exercise program. No matter how inconsequential it may appear. What obstacles prevented you from your exercise in the past?

Lack of time

No exercise shoes, equipment or clothes

Lack of money

“I don’t know what exercises I should be doing, I don’t like aerobics….”

Write down a specific proactive response to confidently deal with any obstacles & get yourself right back on track.

7) Schedule exercise.

The most important piece to keeping you on track is your Dayplanner.

How are you going to squeeze in this 20 minutes 3x per week? You are going to schedule it into your dayplanner as if it were a very important client-which it is-you!

Did you ever wonder why on airplanes they tell you to place the oxygen mask on first before assisting others? If you don’t take care of yourself first, you may be too burned out to be of much help to others, professionally or personally.

8) How will you be supported in starting and being kept on track?

With the support, encouragement and strategy skills of a professional and personal coach, you can achieve your fitness goals. Your coach will help you identify what exactly is motivating you to develop a fitness routine.

With the assistance of your coach, you will uncover the things that have always sabotaged your exercise and fitness efforts. What obstacles get in the way of following through or not starting at all? Obstacles will be dealt with on a weekly basis to keep you from falling off track.

After awhile, you will experience a paradigm shift (a new way of thinking or looking at things) in regard to exercise and fitness. By setting smaller achievable goals, you shift from “I don’t have time, it’s too hard, it’s exhausting, I can’t keep up the pace” to “I can and I will achieve my goal because I have created a doable action plan and have support and strategies in place to deal with obstacles.

Most importantly, stay focused on the process of exercise, not just the results. Remember, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.