How to succeed with exercise goal

Written on Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 at 5:50 pm by Christiane

Improving wellness by doing more exercise and eating better is a popular New Year’s resolution. However, by now – not even two weeks later – many people have  a hard time sticking to these goals or even gave already up. According to a study by Richard Wiseman in 2007, ultimately more than 80 % of the resolutions will fail.

My experience with my clients is that many people simply want too much and too fast without being able to incorporate necessary life style changes into their daily life. If you didn’t exercise for many years, don’t expect suddenly to spend five hours in the gym per week.

I was asked recently how it comes that I’m able to stick to my running regimen of 15 – 20 miles per week for two years now though I was never running before. Here is my answer:

After several failed attempts earlier, I did two things differently in 2010:

First, I started with a small step, just learning to run a half mile daily. I was in such a bad shape that this was difficult enough, however it took only a few minutes out of my daily schedule. I could afford these minutes and this way, I experienced at first the advantages of more exercise in the form of feeling better and being more energetic before I had the price to pay – giving up something that I did for fun to free up time for exercising. Once I got in better shape, I slowly increased the distance. The pounds started to come off when I was at about two miles per day. The weight loss was of course a big motivator and today I’m running in average a 5 K on most days of the week. I lost more than 30 pounds and I am in a better shape now than I was 20 years ago.  I’m sure had I started with a longer distance right away, I probably would not have made it.

The second reason why I’m still running is that I learned to incorporate the exercise into my daily life. It takes out 30 to 45 minutes every day, and to make this work, I started combining my errands with running. I do as much as possible local now and run to the post office, library, hair dresser, subway station etc., often carrying a small bag. I found out that it doesn’t take much more time than going by car because I can use a different route when running without having to stop at traffic lights, and of course at my destination, I don’t have to search for a parking spot. Being able to combine exercise with errands makes it much easier for me to stick to my close-to-20-miles-per- week- goal.

In summary, like many people, I also had failed in the past with my resolutions. Two points  made all the  difference in 2010: starting slow and finding a way to combine exercise with my day to day life .

Christiane Turnheim is life coach in private practice and psychologist instructor at a community college in the Boston area. You can reach her at <>


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