The how to of change

Posted by Steven Wills on 07 Dec 2016

Female runner jogging through forest listening to music

It’s a fact, it is far more enjoyable getting out there and exercising during the warmer months of spring, summer and autumn than during that nasty old winter.

It doesn’t matter what you are trying to achieve, to get results we need three things: a start point, a target and a plan. That way, we are making a directed effort to change our behaviours for the good.

Here is the scenario, you know you should be doing something, but what? Be more active, lose weight, slap on a bit of muscle – it’s your decision. 
Let’s just say that you want to be more active. Why? Because it makes you feel better, it improves your health status, it increases the chances of you being at your grandchildren’s wedding, it gets you outdoors away from the TV so you feel you have achieved something. Whatever your reason is, make sure you are honest with yourself and that your reason is important to you, otherwise when the crunch comes, you won’t stick at it.

Next, figure out what factors affect you being active. Having enough time is the most commonly cited reason. Next, write down what activities you like to do, don’t just figure that you have to train the way you used to when you were playing sport “back in the day”. Is equipment needed for these activities? Write that down what is needed, whether you already have it or not.

Now, you we set the start point by measuring what you do with your time during the week. Just write down what you do for the week, it is best to record as you go. You can enter it on the planner on your phone, sleep, breakfast, commuting, work, lunch, watching TV, reading the Fitness Journal, enter them all, start time to end time, every day for a week. You now have an accurate record of what you are really doing now.

How much activity did you do during the week? Add it up! The minimum recommended is 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity exercise, that is the bare minimum! Did you reach that? If not, or you want to do more than that, it is time to make your plan.

Go back to your list, what activities do you want to do? How often and for what duration? For example, you want to go for a walk three times a week, have a knock around on the tennis court once a week and go swimming twice a week. How long for each and how hard are you going to go? Write this all down, that is your target.

Now your plan is set by going through your recorded week’s schedule and looking for gaps or cutting out things to make room for your new activities. Schedule in the walks, tennis and swim. Do you need or want other people to participate in the activity with you? If so, set a goal of contacting those people and arranging it. If you need some equipment, such as swim goggles, set a goal of buying a pair. Goal setting has been previously dealt with and can be accessed HERE.

While we are talking about equipment, if you have some gear already, use it, don’t go and buy brand new, flash gear immediately. For example, use that old tennis racquet. Then after a month, buy yourself a new one if you have stuck to your target of a game a week. The tennis racquet acts as a reward for your adherence to the plan. If you buy yourself a new racquet right at the beginning, you are rewarding yourself for doing nothing. You are then likely to continue doing that… nothing. The following month you might reward yourself again with new tennis clothing.

As you go through, record whether or not you did your activity on each day. If not, write down why not. A pattern will emerge and you can then plan a way around the barrier or change the time for your activity. Recording will also give you a sense of achievement when you see you are doing more than you did in the baseline and that you are working towards your target.