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By Haydn Jensen

Just in case you’re wondering, being part of the human race does not count as exercise. Neither does running late, dragging your heels or pushing your luck. Some also say they’re thinking of leaving their bodies to science because even scientists need a good laugh now and then. Ha Ha. In last month’s edition, the article Spirit, Soul and Body - How God Designed Us pointed out that taking care of our bodies is a biblically supported and God-given responsibility. We also know that there is a connection between the our spiritual, physical and mental health--poor health in one area can drag us down in others.

Almost everyone knows we ought to take better care of ourselves and most of us also have a pretty good idea of how. So, why are so few actually doing it? Cheryl Pattyn, owner of Positive Image Fitness in Ilderton observes, "We are bombarded with information every day from media, friends and family. What it boils down to is making it happen in such a way that we will do it and stick to it." She sees the main barrier as simply not being prepared. She says fitness is a journey. “You need to plan ahead just as you plan a holiday in advance...Without a plan you are simply driving to an airport in hope of getting on a plane to somewhere you would like to go for a holiday, only to arrive not knowing where you are going to sleep or eat.” The key part of successfully getting to your fitness destination is having a coach to guide you. These are people who know how to get there and the pitfalls to avoid along the way.

Fitness professionals have heard all the excuses, so you likely won’t surprise them with yours. Here are some Cheryl hears, along with her straight talk response to help break free of them:

"I'm Too Tired."

Cheryl: It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that you're tired because you're either not getting enough sleep or you're not getting GOOD sleep. Here's how you can make sleep non-negotiable:
  1. Go to bed at the same time every night (a time in which you can get 7-8 hours).
  2. Create a consistent ritual before going to bed. Note: Put away the electronics.
  3. Get up at the same time every day (yes, even on the weekends). You'll be surprised at how great you feel.

"I'm Hurt, So I Can't Exercise"

Cheryl: Work around it with your doctor's approval. Man or Woman up. A trainer knows how to help you modify exercises so you can exercise uninjured body areas. Eg. Sprained ankle? Work on upper body exercises instead. You CAN work around most injuries.

"I'm Not in Shape Enough to Exercise"

Cheryl: You're not in shape to exercise? Seriously? Go to your local gym/boot camp/private studio and I bet you'll see someone much like you. But that's it. Never compare yourself with others. Compare yourself with yourself...that's your competition.

"I Have Kids"

Cheryl: Most gyms have child care. If not, work out WITH your kids at home. My youngest never saw the gym childcare but was with me 4-5 days week in my basement getting my sweat on. The sooner they learn the better, too.

There are tons of bodyweight workouts that can be done at home--no equipment. Or, if you do have equipment then you need to use it! Just head on over to my youtube channel. Boom--Done!

"I Can't Get Motivated"

Cheryl: Start focusing on your why. "I want to lose weight" is way too generic and quite frankly...booooring.

For me, I want to still be able to have the upper hand on my 6 foot 14yr old son until he moves out. I also want to be the active mom my kids deserve and that takes energy. Since I'm 40, I need to stay active, strong and lean in order to do that. That is so much more powerful than "I want to lose weight." Find your "why"--seriously... spend some time thinking about this, OK? Don't let your excuse rob you of what you deserve.

After barriers (aka excuses) are dealt with or at least identified, it’s time to move forward. Tara Robbins of Just Sweat Fitness Studio offers 5 tips to help us get started:
  1. Make a Commitment by forming a realistic, “actionable plan” that starts with small, manageable steps. These can be simple things like deciding to take the stairs instead of the elevator this week, or making a healthy lunch for work each day.
  2. Become Aware of mindless routines and bad habits--especially around food. We can gain awareness by recording everything we eat each day.
  3. Praise. Once we've started following our plan and begun changing some unhealthy eating habits, the third step is to reward ourselves with praise instead of the all-too-common habit of being too hard on ourselves. Our motivation improves because our brains respond well to positive feedback, even when it comes from ourselves.
  4. Get Educated...about the food we buy and in preparing our bodies for exercise. Pay attention to the nutrition labels and know what to look for. Tara says “Start with the basics and look for the sodium and sugars. You want both of these ingredients to be low and never want your ingredient list to start with one of these items. They are in everything. Aim to keep your sugars to below 12g per serving and your sodium to below 200 milligrams. You also want to be aware of the serving size.” Tara also offers a helpful link: A second part of getting educated could be described as “educating our bodies” by introducing them for exercise. Tara says, “Let’s get moving! Movement prep is important. In our first few weeks we should be loosening up and stretching.” A trainer can recommend helpful stretching exercises to help increase mobility and energize your body for exercise. And this part pints directly to the last step...
  5. Seek a professional. Many try and design their own fitness training program and risk serious injury or disappointing results. Good fitness professionals will assess your strengths, weaknesses and techniques to help you learn to exercise properly and get the results you want.

Sure, for most of us getting healthy doesn't happen by accident. But, like most things healthy habits get easier with practice. There are plenty of people around with training and expertise to help you make whatever changes you need to make, and it certainly is easier to achieve something challenging when you're around other like-minded people.

Here are some links to help you in your journey:

Cheryl Pattyn and Positive Image Fitness:
Tara Robbins and Just Sweat Fitness Studio: