• Gabrielle Babineau

Changing the way we view exercise


Exercise is such a powerful tool to increase wellbeing, quality of life and energy levels. However, why do we regularly associate training with negative thoughts, shame or judgements? My goal and passion is to help individuals view exercise as something that adds value to their life. Exercise doesn’t have to be painful or time consuming; it doesn’t need to be a suffering experience, and it certainly doesn’t have to be an identical practice or end goal for each person.

Exercise should be considered an opportunity to perform something you love doing – which provides at the same time health benefits for your body and mind!

If someone doesn’t enjoy exercise, or initially perceives it as a disagreeable experience, then it is always going to take convincing to carry out. Studies show that people are most likely to maintain an exercise routine if they don’t have to deliberate about whether or not to do it.

Do you want to know what’s even harder?

Maintaining positive habits in a negative environment. The environment can vary from your support group, workplace, and yes, your self-talk DEFINITELY counts.


Now, developing a regular exercise routine and healthy eating habits are complex behaviours that may require a tailored strategy. However, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Start with one small and easy habit that you are highly motivated to do. Focus on one goal at a time, and if you have more than one, then organize, list, or number your priorities.

  • When in doubt or when lacking motivation break things down into smaller chunks.

  • Change the way you talk about the role of exercise in your life. (my favorite)

Remember that having a goal is the easy part. The real challenge is not deciding if you want the result, but rather if you're willing to take action to achieve your goal. Goals are useful for setting the direction, and a structured plan will help to determine your progress. However, too often we tend to set the right goals using the wrong strategy. If you have to fight your undesired habit each day to make progress, you will find it hard to make consistent improvements. Find the lifestyle choices that work for you, and a positive support group that encourages you to stay on track.

Research has shown that you are 2-3x more likely to stick to your goals if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you will perform the behaviour.

Here are another two key aspects that also help with exercise commitment:

ENVIRONMENT:

  • Simplicity: It’s hard to focus on your objective when you’re constantly surrounded by noise. For example, it’s more difficult to eat healthy when your kitchen is filled with junk food.

  • Visual Cues: Making notes on your calendar/phone or on your fridge for daily reminders

  • Self-talk: Change the way you talk about exercise and/or your body.

MEASUREMENT:

Studies show that the human mind loves to receive feedback and one of the most motivating things we can experience is evidence of our progress. The trick is to realize that counting; measuring, and tracking exercise is not entirely about the results. Measure in order to discover; to explore; to understand. Measure to see if you’re showing up.

If you look at the people who stay focused on their goals then you’ll realize, that it’s not the events or the results that make them different, but rather the commitment to the process. Fall in love with the daily practice, the routine, and not the individual event. If you want to be in the best shape of your life, then improving your strength & endurance might be necessary, but the only way to reach and maintain your desired result is to fall in love with the process of eating healthy and exercising regularly.

Health requires self- awareness, self-belief, and a change in thinking.

Change is made in the mind and upon the body equally. Don’t forget that behavioral change occurs gradually over time and it is certainly not something that always occurs in a linear fashion. We often forget that returning to challenging behaviors is often part of the game. We also regularly forget to be grateful for the baby steps we take, and how that is an achievement in and of itself. At the end of the day, it is more practical to make small, habit- based changes that don’t completely consume your life. The reality is that you just need to get started, take it slow and find a plan that’s going to work for you.

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