You’ve heard of yo-yo dieting, but what about yo-yo exercising? I’m referring to the cycle of jumping on and off the proverbial fitness wagon.
Does this sound familiar? You decide it’s finally time to start exercising. You’re super excited to get started so you jump right in, feet first, with big plans of success. Things are smooth sailing for a few days, maybe even a week or two, but then the cracks start and you falter. You start missing sessions and soon it turns back into doing nothing at all.
SKIPPING THE PREPARATION STAGE
The biggest mistake I see is that people try to jump from the Contemplation stage, where they have the desire to change, to the Action stage, where they are doing the desired behaviour, skipping the Preparation stage.
THE PREPARATION STAGE IS YOUR KEY TO SUCCESS
Most people accidentally skip the preparation stage, often because once they have that desire to change they want to jump right in and get going. BUT without a plan in place and the structure to keep you going, you’ll likely “fail” or at least find it difficult to keep going.
Here’s a personal example of what the prep stage can look like (hint, it doesn’t have to be long).
I recently decided that I will commit to 30 minutes a day to study for my certification in sport and exercise nutrition. I use a blue light to help with SAD but I found that unless I use it first thing I didn’t use it. So studying while I use the light was a perfect solution to get both done.
However, before hitting the books, I took time to organize myself so that it’s easy every day. I need it be simple in order to sustain this new habit.
I asked myself a question that I use all the time with client:
WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN?
- Choose study location (couch)
- Choose time (7:00-7:30 am)
- Manual and study guide handy (ie. in a spot that easily accessible)
- Blue light near study location with charger
- iPad near study location with charger
- rearranged the books under my coffee table so I can easily assess the manual and study guide
- Moved blue light and charger from bathroom to the living room and reorganized the “electronics section” so the plug and items all fit
- Alarm set for 6:45 am
As you see, it wasn’t that much effort to prepare BUT now I’ll be sure to always have the devices charged and everything is close so I’m not scrambling to find everything each day.
NOW WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Have you jumped from Contemplation to Action only to find yourself back at square one of doing nothing? YOU didn’t fail, you just missed an important step in the process. It’s ok (and advised) to be back to Preparation so that you can determine a course of action that will lead to sustained success. The prep stage doesn’t need to be long, but it’s crucial. Are you still at Contemplation? Can you do a few things in the Preparation stage?
Here are some key questions to ask yourself during the Preparation stage:
- What time of day will I exercise?
- Have I put the exercise “appointments” in my calendar?
- Where will I exercise?
- Do I need to take out workout clothes the night before?
- Do I need to make my lunch the night before? (to give yourself more time if doing a morning workout)
- What will I do for exercise?
The point is to make it EASY + SIMPLE for you to exercise. Remove as many barriers as possible by planning in advance. If you can establish the habit (Maintenance stage), it’s a LOT easier to exercise on those days you “don’t feel like it”.
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