So here are two ideas from the business world which can help.
First the SMART approach to goal setting. SMART goals are:
Specific – generalities are no good so be specific eg I will run an extra x kilometres each week until the end of the month, I will exercise on a cardio machine for 30 minutes each day, I will swim 5 lengths more each week until I reach 20 per day. To start with aim for small changes (little victories).
Measurable – record and track what you are achieving so it is visible reminder of what you have achieved so far
Achievable – be realistic. Can you really run your first marathon after only a week’s preparation? Increase and vary your targets as you achieve them.
Relevant – make it relevant to your lifestyle and be responsible about what you are aiming for taking into account your age and state of health
Time-related – have a realistic timescale, use your calendar to book regular sessions. Are you a lark or a dove? people who exercise in the morning seem more likely to stick to a routine.
And ask yourself if your determination to improve your fitness and health will disrupt or upset people close to you as you really need them on your side.
Which brings me to the second point: support. What psychologists call social support is really important. Get someone to exercise with you, even if they want to compete, or join a group. If you exercise on your own you can always take “before and after” photographs! Share successes (those little victories again) with each other and reward yourself.
Thirdly, take control. You need expert advice in designing your own programme but this should be tailored to meet your needs as this gives you ownership and a sense of purpose.
Being in control gives you the confidence that you can achieve your goals as well as the commitment and the enthusiasm. This is where personal trainers score over large impersonal classes where the instructor doesn’t even know your name.
So the three key points are; goal setting, social support and control.
The second model you might find useful is the STAR model.
- Remember how it was before you started exercising and how good it felt when people told you how much better and fitter you looked.
- Visualise the newer fitter you that you want to become.
- Recognise the enormous benefits: improved immune system with fewer illnesses; lower risk of heart and lung disease, diabetes and cancer; stronger bones; better moods; less stress; and better quality sleep.
NB Only use properly trained and qualified trainers. Here is a good example