life coaching, life coach, life coaches, personal life coach

This article appeared in South China Morning Post, Life Section, Saturday 3 March 2007

Patricia Bowmer

Brain Train

Hands up all those who’ve failed to follow through on their new year’s resolution to get fit.

Peter’s determination fell by the wayside within two weeks, after he overdid things and injured his shouder. He’s still paying his monthly gym fee, though, sure that the money will motivate him to go back...eventually. But there’s a better way for Peter to improve his chance of keeping to his resolution.

Stage one: Get ready

  • Be specific: Peter said he was going to get “super-fit”. This can mean cardiovascular endurance (running up the Peak), strength (lifting weights), flexibility (stretching), and/or maintaining optimal body weight. Be clear what you’re aiming for, so you can define what you need to do to get you there.
  • Get smart: Peter thought it was cool to bounce the barbell off his chest during the bench press – but this put his shoulders at serious risk of injury. Choose safe and effective exercises by getting advice from reputable sources: qualified personal trainers; group exercise instructors; fitness association websites (try
  • Know why you quit before: How has situation changed? Plan for foreseeable problems, and what you’ll do when they happen.
  • Build habits: Set specific times aside for exercise, and stick to them. Habits are hard to break.
  • Do something fun: If exercise isn’t fun, you’ll find something that is. It doesn’t have to happen in a gym – being active throughout the day (by taking the stairs or walking to work) can help meet general health goals. Goals for higher levels of cardiovascular fitness can be met by walking, hiking, or swimming.
  • Exercise with a friend or partner: Meet a friend to exercise, hire a personal trainer, or do a group exercise class. You’re less likely to quit if your spouse supports your decision to exercise.

Stage two: Get going

  • Start slow: Going hardcore when you’re unfit doesn’t give you a hard body. It gives you big physiotherapy bills, and a great excuse to quit. Two or three times a week is a good start – you can aim to progress to a maximum of five days, depending on your personal goals. Build in rest to give your body time to adjust.
  • Exercise for the right reasons: Exercise will make you feel better, live longer, and give you a glowing complexion. A great body is an added extra.
  • Get real: There’s no 30-second six-packs. Don’t buy into ads for equipment that promise a great body for little or no effort. Exercise needn’t be extremely hard or painful, but getting fit does take effort. It also takes time.

Stage three: Keep moving

  • Give yourself gold stars: Gold stars motivate children – grown-ups too. We just call it feedback. Hang up a large calendar. Each day you exercise, stick on a big gold star for a visual reminder of what you’ve achieved.
  • See the trees – before the forest: You know exercise is good for you, but if you hate it in the short-term, you’ll stop. Focus on immediate benefits – stress management, sleeping better, feeling a sense of accomplishment.
  • Don’t quit: One missed session, an injury, or a week off? That doesn’t mean you’ve quit. You quit when you make a conscious decision not to go back. Instead, see missed sessions as a lapse, and get moving again.
  • Be where you are. When you’re on the sofa, enjoy it. The best way to stay healthy is to enjoy all things in moderation.

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