Starting and Sticking To It!

vsitrotation2_1As a Personal Trainer, I understand that the actual physical fitness program we design for our clients is only a small part of our job.  Our most important role is helping our clients actually DO the program.

That is…starting and sticking to it!  

Everyone knows they should exercise and take better care of themselves but few do.  If you have a desire to initiate a health and fitness program, if you can first focus on changing your mind-set and creating a compelling reason for sticking to the program no matter what other responsibilities surface, you will succeed.  So focusing on developing mental fitness is critical.  All the information and tips are based on Behavioral Change research – there are certain things people who succeed with their health and fitness program do and I want to share this insight with you in hopes of helping you achieve your goals.

First, I want to spend some time discussing the Time issue;

…..that is, a perceived lack of time is one of the most common excuses for not starting or for quitting an exercise program.  But it really does not wash.  I’m telling you right now without a doubt that you can’t use that as a crutch anymore.  Many people really believe that they can get themselves off the hook by stating “You know, I really want to exercise but I just don’t have the time!”  But we have clients who manage large businesses, clients with 6-8 children, clients who own companies, volunteer for charities, make it to their kid’s soccer games and clients who seem to do it all.  So how do they do it when they are clearly just as busy as anyone could possibly be?  They make health and fitness a priority in their life.  When life gets rough, exercise is usually the first thing to go when, in fact, it should be the last.  Exercise is the glue to mental sanity when life becomes chaotic.

Somehow though,

when others need you, your needs tend to end up on the back burner.

Someone at work asks you to complete a project, your spouse needs your attention, the kids need some quality time, your friends are asking you why you have not called, and you have got a to-do list that extends well into the next 6 months.  You can see how easy it is to convince yourself that your morning workout can wait until lunch and then until after dinner.  Or maybe tomorrow and finally, “I’ll get back on track next month!”  Commitments, responsibilities and the demands of work, family and social life are always going to be there. When you allow yourself to put your own needs second to everything and everyone else, you will end up the loser. 

Research, in fact, shows that people who exercise are more productive at whatever they are doing.

Translation:  You will be able to do more when you are in good shape.  As for believing exercise is a huge time commitment, even 10-30 minutes a day, if done consistently, can result in health benefits.

Here’s some tips that consistent, busy exercisers use to help them stick to their program:

  1. Make an appointment with yourself, just as you would for your doctor or dentist or a meeting with your boss.  That way, when someone asks if you can meet at 5, you can honestly say, “Sorry, I’ve got an appointment.  How about at 4:00?”  Scheduling fitness into your life is why personal trainers have become so popular.  Now, you are accountable to your trainer as well as yourself.  If you don’t make it for your appointment, they’ll be calling to find out why.
  2. Another helpful strategy for overcoming the time obstacle is to sit down and record how you spend your time in a typical day.  Then go through the list and identify any time wasters.  It could be the television or computer or perhaps there is someone at work who constantly interrupts you making you less efficient.  Now determine how you could deal with some of these time wasters.  For example, if someone at work takes up a portion of your time, make it known that from 10:00 until noon you are not to be interrupted so you can focus on some important projects.  Once you complete this drill, you’ll find that you do have time to exercise – you just need to restructure your schedule to make sure you have time for the important things in life.  Think of it this way – people spend more time deciding on a movie or getting their car washed and tuned up than they do taking care of their most important asset.  You deserve to spend the time fine-tuning your body!
  3. Try exercising in the morning.  Just set your clock a littler earlier and before the calls and emails start arriving, take the time to take care of yourself first.  Waiting till after work leaves you open to unexpected responsibilities or fatigue from a long day making it more likely that you’ll skip a workout.

“Just Do It” sums it up but many people fall prey to the “Some Day” phenomenon.  That is some day I’ll get started…when the kids start school, right after this project is completed, once the kids are older and more independent, as soon as the kids leave home, as soon as I retire…  And we all know the end of this story.  Some day just never comes.  The bottom line is if you want to succeed in this part of your life, you just have to stop making excuses.  As soon as you find yourself making an excuse – just stop.  If you want it bad enough, you CAN make it happen.

The reality is that NOW is the time to start taking better care of yourself because there will always be things competing for your time.

You can choose to make exercise a priority in your life now or wait until you’re forced to make it a priority.  Have you ever heard of the saying – People who cannot find the time to exercise, will be forced to find the time for illness?  We take our health for granted until we get sick.  People who swear they do not have a minute to exercise, then find themselves hospitalized for bypass surgery and out of commission for weeks and can’t work or take care of their family and their life will never be the same, soon recognize that the extra time taken to exercise would haven been well worth it!  The message is clear.  Unless you take care of yourself now, one day you may find yourself unable to take care of your business, family or any of your other interests.

So yeah, Just Do it!

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for over 25 years and has received numerous industry awards including International Personal Trainer and Fitness Presenter of the Year. She is the author of five books including “Go For Fit – the Winning Way to Fat Loss” and “Fit over Forty” and is the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs.  She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver and can be seen running, hiking or cycling with her two children, Brianna and Jackson.  She can be reached at or

Note:  As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started.  Contact 360.574.7292 for more details. 

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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