Exercise Compliance Secret #3: Don't Be a Slave to Your Fitness Plan

You've decided that you are going to exercise, and you finally have a plan. You are going to perform strength training exercises on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. You are going to hop on the elliptical to train your heart on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

You have great success with your plan during the first couple weeks. But one Monday you just really don't feel like strength training. Frankly, you'd rather go out for a run. You've also been eyeing a new rock climbing gym that opened up down the street. You'd rather try that out than do the same old strength training routine this week.

Don't be a slave to your fitness plan. Listen to and follow these desires.

Somewhere along the line, we seem to have lost our innate ability to listen to our bodies. Many of us eat well past the point of satiation. When we diet, we need controls in place because we've lost the ability to recognize whether we are hungry or not. Similarly, our bodies crave movement, but we've lost the ability to recognize and feel it.

But if our bodies desire movement, shouldn't it be enjoyable? Why is exercise, then, such a drudgery?

I truly believe if you hate exercise, you've chosen the wrong sport. Don't fall for the idea that exercise must be done and nobody enjoys it. When you've found the right activity, exercise feels good. It challenges both your mind and your body. It keeps you in awe of what your body is capable of doing. It even inspires you to live a healthy life so that you can keep at your favorite activity, whether it is yoga, Pilates, kayaking, biking, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, soccer, hockey, or horse back riding.

This is not to say that the exercise plan should be thrown out the window. Many of us still need this crutch to make sure that we fulfill our exercise obligations. And, just as dieters need to re-learn how to listen to cues of satiation, exercisers need to re-learn how to listen to movement cues. So keep the plan for now. Just make sure that it has some wiggle room that will allow you to experiment and mix things up. The novelty and excitement that comes with trying new things and following your passions will keep you motivated and compel you to comply with your exercise goals.

Being compelled to comply rather than feeling forced to? That is a beautiful thing. Make it one of your new year's resolutions. It will make you a happier, healthier person in 2010.

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