Don’t Get Derailed: Overcoming Exercise Hurdles

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August 14, 2013


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Whether you need to lose weight or combat heart disease, exercise is vital for overall health. But many people find it challenging to stick to an exercise routine.

Excuses are plentiful: not enough time, boredom and lack of motivation tend to top the list.

Even for those who are serious about their health, there are specific factors that can derail the goals of even the most well-intentioned individual.

Addressing these factors can help you achieve your goals.

“It’s important to stop making excuses and start making adjustments to your lifestyle,” said Reginald Laroche, a clinical exercise physiologist and supervisor of cardiac rehabilitation at South Miami Hospital.

Here are factors that can derail your exercise goals:

Not Having a Plan
The biggest mistake that individuals make is that they do not have a specific plan with detailed goals. “This is crucial,” Laroche said. “You need to be realistic about the time you have to exercise and the specific goals you want to achieve within that time.” He said it’s a good idea to think of “smart” as an acronym when it comes to implementing an exercise or diet plan — S for specific, M for measurable, A for attainable, R for realistic, and T for timely.

Lack of Accountability
What or who holds you accountable? Make sure someone or something — such as a pedometer or  high-tech gadget like an activity tracker — holds you accountable for your progress and commitment. The use of smart-phone applications that can  help you keep track of distance, speed, intensity or frequency can be very useful in measuring your progress. A supportive friend or relative can also help, and add encouragement as well during those times when consistent exercise becomes challenging. Individuals have to be able to measure their success and progress in order for them to better manage it.  Anything that helps you measure success is helpful.

Inconsistency
They call it a routine for a reason. Be consistent and faithful to your plan. Being successful at exercise requires making it a part of your daily routine and changing personal habits. Once you accomplish getting started, being consistent is important to establish exercise as a new lifestyle. Success at any level requires commitment and dedication.  Individuals must display intentional and deliberate actions to achieve success.

Diet Behavior
You likely won’t see results unless you also improve your diet. That entails shifting another type of behavior — not jumping onto the latest fad diet, Laroche said. “You need to change your diet behavior. That means what you eat, how you eat, when you eat and how it all affects your metabolic rate.” It’s not just about eating vegetables and fruits and less processed foods. Individuals must “exercise” portion control and manage their cravings.

Lack of Variation (Boredom)
“Avoid boredom and keep your body guessing,” Laroche said. Surprising your body can accelerate your success. Mixing up your aerobic or weight-training routine or the intensity of your workout is a big plus. For example, interval training is very beneficial. Alternating between jogging, cycling and an aerobics class can take some of the boredom out of your routine.

Lack of Focus or Proper Mindset
No exercise routine will work if you don’t have a focused and committed mindset. That means recognizing what your goals are and the desire of wanting to succeed have to go hand-in-hand. “There has to be a significant reason for you to want to exercise and get healthier,” Laroche said. “Ask yourself why you are doing this?” For example, you need to feel that your cardiac health or your obesity status or your diabetes condition poses a real risk to your future health. That doesn’t mean you have to have a specific condition to overcome in order for you to start an exercise plan. Don’t wait for a condition to occur that jumpstarts you to action.  Be proactive in your efforts.  A significant reason could be to improve or maintain your health. “Mindset is the key to not only implementing your plan or approach, but also following through with that plan and staying dedicated to it.,” Laroche said.

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