Fitness Resolutions will be on the minds of many Americans as they ring in the New Year. News media venues will be inundated with feature stories on exercise, healthy eating, and the latest tech gadgets to battle the bulge.
The advice is limitless, with tips for the semi-pro athlete to the low budget exerciser. But why is it—with the influx of health education—that some people are able to establish the exercise habit and not others? “It’s not about the number on the scale, it’s about your connection to yourself,” says Robin Ox Goodpasture, a certified personal trainer, and body image consultant.
A passionate fitness professional, Goodpasture believes an effective exercise plan begins with taking an honest personal inventory, “I get the common, ‘I want to lost 10 pounds'…but I don’t know what that means.” She asks clients to go deeper: “What is working in your life? What’s not? What do I really want
for myself? What does weight loss meant to me?” she explains. “True wellness is making that mind-body-spirit connection,” she says, “valuing your life—a number can’t capture that.”
Emotional blocks, says Goodpasture, are at the heart of what hinder people from sticking with desired
goals. During sessions, she listens for her client’s attitudes towards their bodies. With working moms, Good pasture notes,"I often find women feeling guilty in setting aside time for themselves;" With younger people, she notes, “I hear the striving towards an unhealthy perfectionist ideal;” With people who are out
of shape, she comments “There may be shame in getting back to the gym to work out in public.” Goodpasture believes that guiding clients to pay attention and to challenge this inner voice, or “self-talk,” is an important step to unlearning self-sabotaging habits. “ If I don’t address that sense of self, I find that
clients may not believe they are worthy of taking the time out for themselves – planning their food and exercise, and building skills to manage their environment.”
Weight loss and maintaining fitness is not a linear process, adds Goodpasuture; there are ups and down, our bodies change as we age, and we are injury prone if not diligent about proper form. “I use the ‘stop, ask, and listen’ technique,” says Goodpasture; “when something is not going well or if my motivation wanes, I stop and listen to my feelings, instead of running to an old behavior.” She notes there are always
new things to learn with exercise, “When I stop and listen, I can ask myself new questions such as ‘What are my obstacles right now? Am I setting the bar too high?”
Goodpasture advises planning for broad and balanced exercise options when setting goals in the areas of
stretching, stress management, weight training, cardiovascular training or balance training and not over-exercising in one area. “We need all of it for wellness--stretching to stay flexible, cardio for heart health and tai chi, for example, to manage stress.”
A good exercise plan also adapts to each person’s specific health needs. “ We all have strengths and
limitations,” says Goodpasture, “ I really enjoy weight training, but have a harder time with plyometrics and have to join a group class to gain the benefits. It’s important not to compare yourself to others,” she says, encouraging her clients to instead discover the unique ways they can maximize and benefit from movement.
Hands down, research shows that a consistent moderate level of exercise boosts immunity, lifts mood, wards off age-related diseases, and improves cognitive function. If you are ready to take that leap of faith towards health, experts advise to first consult with your doctor. Next, slowly build your habit for exercise in progressive steps, and then build in support—join a group or find a buddy. “We all need accountability,
”says Goodpasture. “I am a trainer, but have worked with a trainer for over 15 years now. It gives me the accountability I need; I am a working mom with a full life like many of my clients.”
What’s the final tip to jump-start an exercise plan for 2011? “Start small, health is not a one-day
activity–when you show up for yourself, you are achieving something for that day,” she explains. “It’s a journey. Why not learn how to value yourself and enjoy the process along the way?”
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