Q: I am ready to get astart on my New Year’s resolutions, but I don’t want to fall into the same trap of starting out strong and then failing to follow through. Any advice?
A: Robert Hopper is a former swimming champion and exercise physiologist and author of “Stick With Exercise for a Lifetime: How to Enjoy Every Minute of It!".
“Health and fitness are not the overt goals of this program; rather, they are the natural byproducts of it," he says. His steps include:
• Have fun. It’s all about what you enjoy doing, so summon your passions in choosing lifetime activities.
• Get a coach. Think only the Michael Phelps of the world have coaches? Think again. Your most valuable asset, a coach is any teacher, instructor or class leader who guides the development of your lifelong exercise program.
• Get on a team ... even if they don’t call themselves one. Working with a formal team or league, joining a class or getting involved with a group of people who exercise together offers companionship, support and an opportunity to socialize.
• Take time. Making exercise a priority means making time for it. The idea is to gradually integrate more physical activity into your day-to-day life so that it is manageable, yet yields results. Once you discover how much better you look and feel, you’ll find yourself protecting your exercise time.
• Lose yourself in the zone of continuous improvement. Athletes know of the addictive power of improvement, how it keeps them growing and getting better. Hopper calls this the “Getting Better Cycle," a loop that keeps you enticed and involved in exercising for a lifetime.
• Win at championship moments. We all know the feeling — you’re doing well and suddenly you’re hit with the temptation to start slacking off on your routine. This is what Hopper calls the “championship moment," a term coined when he was coaching college athletes.
He offers four essential strategies for triumphing over that little voice that urges you to hit the couch with a bag of chips. These include the psych-up, the self-con, mental toughness and visualization.
• Lastly, allow room for mistakes, and don’t throw in the towel because you are having one bad day.
— By Marjie Gilliam, Cox Newspapers