Struggling to get to the gym? The problem may be that your reason for going is, well, basic. We’ve got to dump traditional goals like losing weight. They’re too ordinary to inspire us.
“Stop seeing fitness goals as just items to check off,” says Menachem Brodie, a certified strength and conditioning coach who has trained gold-medal athletes. “When our goals are something we care about, the path unfolds before us. Motivation to push through will be there!”
Make a life goal, not a fitness goal
“Pick an activity that you’ve been wanting to do your whole life,” says Brodie. “Hike up Everest. Kayak across the beautiful lakes in Switzerland. Go on a safari in Africa.”
Brodie remembers one client who had struggled to lose weight for years. “I asked her for a dream she had that would require some kind of fitness to accomplish,” he says. Brodie learned she wanted to climb South America’s Aconcagua, one of the world’s highest peaks. His client now had a life goal to shoot for, and getting fitter was necessary to reach it. For the first time in her life, she dropped the pounds, packed on lean muscle and ended up hitting her 12-month fitness goals in just eight months.
“Don’t be afraid to dream,” says Brodie, “and don’t wait until you’re 100 percent ready—80 percent ready is more than enough. Get started!”
Focus on just one thing
We’ve identified our big adventure. Now break it down: if we want to be fit enough to hike BC’s West Coast Trail or surf in Hawaii, what must we do today to get there?
Gillian Mandich is a holistic health promoter. She recommends we pick just one habit at a time to improve. “The fastest route to failure is having too many new habits,” she explains. “You can eventually do them all; however, research is clear that you cannot successfully do them all at once. Choose one thing. Once that becomes a habit, begin a second goal.”
Our new activity should be something we’ve never tried before. “Getting out of our comfort zone allows opportunity for growth—both mental and physical,” she says. “The body responds to innovative, new movement patterns. If you’ve always wanted to try an obstacle course or an aerial yoga class, now is the perfect time.”
Find the good kind of trigger
“Our struggles with being healthy are due to cultural habits,” says personal trainer, family therapist and fitness author Tim Sitt. “This is decades of conditioning. The reality is we live in a sedentary context.”
Breaking free from our sedentary lifestyle means making exercise an all-day habit instead relegating it to a specific timeslot at the gym. “Incorporate healthy movement into your day with specific triggers,” says Sitt.
Take moving breaks
Break time? Go for a walk around the office or do chair yoga.
Exercise during entertainment
The next time you want to watch TV or a YouTube clip, drop into a squat position or jog in place.
Use your feelings to get fit
Be aware of your emotions and use them as triggers. Feeling stressed? It’s time to practice deep breathing exercises.