Gooding’s guide to fitness Have your cake and eat it, sometimes.
January 27, 2009 · Updated 2:19 PM
Last week, I celebrated my 34th birthday, and for some reason, I had three cakes. Yes, three. Cake was available all week. Talk about a fitness resolution pitfall.
This is my fourth column focusing on your New Year’s Fitness Resolution. Weeks one, two and three focused on setting reasonable goals, maintaining accountability, and building support for your fitness aspirations. This week, I’ll focus on the little (or big) things in life that get in our way of exercising and, ultimately, achieving health.
According to Dictionary.com, a pitfall is “An unapparent source of trouble or danger; a hidden hazard.” Whether we are fitness novices or fitness fanatics, we struggle with pitfalls and need to learn how to cope with them. For the purpose of writing this column, I used Facebook to poll my friends on the following question: “Angie Gooding needs to know: in one word, what is your biggest fitness or exercise pitfall?” Please keep in mind that my friends on Facebook represent a wide variety of fitness levels and a range of ages. The responses were varied, some serious, some funny. The answers ranged from “Kids” to “Energy” to “Ice Cream.” After reading their varied responses, I categorized them into general themes: Time, Consistency, Confidence and Temptation.
Time. We all get 24 hours a day to accomplish never-ending to-do lists. However, most of us find time to watch reality TV, paint our nails and frequently check our email. Achieving fitness is about making exercise a priority and scheduling it in to your day, regardless of how tired you may be. Make a list of your essential responsibilities and add exercise as one of these duties. Use a calendar, planner or blackberry to schedule your exercise routine. If exercise is truly a priority, you will make time for it and will have trouble finding time to watch “Grey’s Anatomy,” endlessly text friends or to play video games.
Consistency. In order to master them, most challenging activities take practice. To be honest, lack of consistency is one of my pitfalls (in addition to chocolate birthday cake with thick frosting). However, I work through my lack of consistency by making up missed sessions and rearranging my busy schedule, if possible. Excusing yourself from a week of exercise just because you missed one day is not acceptable. If you miss a day of exercise, forgive yourself and continue on your path. Create a monthly calendar of workout activities and reward yourself when you’ve accomplished a consistent schedule.
Confidence. As a fitness educator, I hear over and over that people choose to not exercise because they feel “silly,” “awkward,” and “don’t know what they are doing.” These are authentic concerns to have. Exercise done incorrectly can be ineffective, and can even be dangerous, especially when strength training (lifting weights). Start slowly. Ask questions. Read articles on line. Request a tour of your gym and an orientation of the exercise equipment. Hire a fitness trainer to give you feedback on your body’s form while weight training, or to create an exercise plan. Most importantly, believe in yourself and go for it.
Temptation. Ice cream, tortilla chips, French fries, Reality TV, an extra hour of sleep….temptation lurks around every corner. Life is meant to be enjoyed, in moderation. Pick an indulgence, and enjoy it once in a while. With that said, if you give in to a temptation, do not feel so discouraged that you excuse yourself from exercise: “Oh, I ate that second piece of pie …Exercise will do me no good.” No. Enjoy the indulgence, forgive yourself, and move on with the intention to be consistent with your health and exercise endeavor.
This is not an exhaustive list, to say the least. However, I was surprised that my Facebook friends didn’t mention the physical discomfort of exercise, nor did they mention the financial limitations of achieving fitness. I figure they didn’t mention the discomfort of exercise because most people accept that exercise can be painful at first, but is well worth the effort. Similarly, I believe they didn’t mention the cost of exercise because there is a rising awareness about the importance of health and fitness, despite our country’s dire financial situation. We simply can’t afford not to exercise.
Overall, it comes down to making fitness a priority. When exercise is a priority, time is found, consistency is constant, confidence is earned, temptations are minimized.
It will be four to six weeks until I write again for the Marysville Globe and Arlington Times. In the meantime, I’d like to poll you, my readers, on the very same question I asked my Facebook friends: “Angie Gooding needs to know: In one word, what is your biggest fitness pitfall?” This week, email me and tell me what holds you back from exercising. I will use your words and comments to decide what to write about in my forthcoming columns. After all, you are my audience, and I want this column to be of service to you. I look forward to hearing from many of you.
Angie Gooding is an educator and a personal trainer certified through ACE (American Council on Exercise) and owner of Inspire Fitness & Training. She lives locally, and trains clients in a private location in Marysville. She can be reached at AngieGooding@comcast.net or www.inspirefitnessandtraining.com.