New Year’s Resolutions and the Agony of Exercise

unnamedI hate exercise. There, I said it. I was brought up in New York City, where everyone walked and no one (at that time) had to “do exercise.” Now, however, I’m faced with challenges my parents and grandparents didn’t have: my job involves a lot of sitting. Sitting in the car, sitting with clients, sitting in front of the computer, sitting on trains and airplanes, sitting in conferences and meetings… I’ve known for a while that if I’m going to keep health issues at bay, I need to arrange my life to support daily exercise. Every year, it seems, I resolve to put in two days a week of strength training and two more for cardio activities. After all, I have the space and equipment at home, and at least some time flexibility because I’m self-employed. What I haven’t had is the consistency to make myself head down those basement stairs and “just do it,” as they preach in the Nike ad.

I’m somewhat ashamed of the fact that I hadn’t managed to achieve a regular exercise plan in my own home, at minimal expense. I never wanted to be part of the 92% of people who slack off on their New Year’s resolutions after a few weeks []. I feel the irony deeply, especially since I’m looked at as the diva of self-management and productivity. I’ve spent my career encouraging and providing support for self-regulation of healthy habits to my clients, friends, and family.

But the truth is, if I’m going to be successful at this, I need help. I have to admit that, despite all of my academic expertise, this is my Achilles heel, so to speak. Taking a page from my book “Actions Against Distractions” [pages 22-24], I determined the steps that would ensure that I would not only get started on my goal of health and fitness, but also ones that would build in accountability and consequences if I didn’t follow them. I realized that it would be more productive for me to engage the services of a personal trainer at a fitness center. I opted for standing, weekly appointments with her so that the time was already dedicated to exercise. And, I adjusted my finances in order to pre-pay for services, giving me extra incentive not to “waste money already spent” on my fitness goals.

What were your resolutions for the year? What challenges have been posed for you this month? Perhaps it’s time to put aside your pride and seek the help you need to be successful. Brainstorm some ways to get going, enlist support and incentives, and hold yourself accountable with consequences or rewards.

So how has the exercise program been going for me? I’m certainly more consistent than I was at home because I know that my excellent trainer is waiting for me at our appointed times. I am enjoying the benefits of feeling stronger and more energetic. But there are still plenty of moments during my reps when she is counting and I am kvetching, “Help! Get me out here!” I may not have fallen in love, but I do feel a great sense of satisfaction in finally maintaining a healthy relationship with exercise.

About Geraldine Markel, Ph.D.

Geraldine Markel, Ph.D. is principal of Managing Your Mind Coaching and Seminars and is author of Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: Increasing Productivity and Decreasing Stress. She is co author of Finding Your Focus: Practical Strategies for the Everyday Challenges Facing Adults with ADD and Helping Adolescents with ADD and/or Learning Disabilities. At the University of Michigan, Dr. Markel served as faculty in the School of Education. She coaches adults and adolescents with ADD and/or learning disabilities and specializes in working with independent professionals, writers, and graduate students.
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