Winter is coming — time to get in the game for getting fit

In the concrete jungle, the hearty Canadian spends much of the warm summer months foraging outdoor patios and cafés in preparation for the harsh winter ahead.

With the looming prospect of ice and snow, Canucks are thankful for a harvest laden with highly processed bounty. Assorted charbroiled meats and deep-fried starches with fermented and sugary drinks fortify a diet rich in saturated fats and refined carbs. The high-calorie regime forms a thick insulating layer that envelopes the Canadian’s midsection. This will be necessary to survive the severe realities of sub-zero temperatures.

Of course, the Canadian could always choose to eat healthy and buy a coat.

So the plan to become more active over the summer didn’t quite materialize? No worries, shift your thinking indoors and follow these three simple strategies.

Right in the Head

I hate to be a downer but if you don’t have the proper mindset, you won’t make it. Half-committed attempts at exercise are like half-committed attempts at skateboarding — you’re going to crash.

Everyone knows exercise is important — no big news here. If you aren’t mentally ‘in the game,’ you create a track record of starts and stops that are recorded in your brain as failure.

Before you lace up your shoes, clear past failures from your memory bank and chalk them up to experience. Now, what did you learn? What barriers will you confront? How will you get past them?

With a plan in place, you are better equipped to survive the inevitable pitfalls that disrupt good intentions.

The critical 6-8

The most critical phase of your exercise program happens in the first few months. If you don’t establish a pattern, sets, reps and equipment are all irrelevant.

Replace the question “Which exercise is the most effective?” with “Which exercise am I willing to do?” Pick an activity that’s easy and repeat. Sit on a bike, go for a walk, just make sure that you show up.

Focus on week eight as the true starting line and don’t question the process along the way. That’s how long it will take you to form a new habit.

Once you’ve established a routine, you can then ask “Which exercise is most effective?”

Enjoy the Ride

Most exer-phobics are able to identify an experience or person that has derailed previous exercise attempts. Embarrassment, bad advice, apathetic staff, aggressive instructors can upset the best of intentions.

Gyms and fitness instructors aren’t necessarily wired to address the needs of beginners, who require graduated learning to establish important coping mechanisms.

A one-hour orientation simply overwhelms. Boot Camps and HIIT classes are way too advanced. Trainers who push for quick physical results while ignoring critical psychological barriers intimidate instead of motivate. “You’re not trying hard enough!” is never the answer.

Pick something simple and focus on comfort. If it’s too hard, slow down. When the time is right, push a little harder. You want to finish your workout feeling empowered and successful, not dejected and depressed.

Let’s be perfectly clear, exercise hurts — especially when comparing it to laying on the couch with a bowl of ice cream. However, with the proper preparation, you can learn to enjoy it. If you’ve never appreciated the love of physical movement, chances are you’ve never been adequately prepared.

Not your fault! Schools (at least when I was attending) and gyms have missed the mark. They tend to preach to the converted or blindly follow a pre-set agenda. Engagement doesn’t usually make the final cut.

You may you notice I haven’t mentioned running stairs, squats or lifting once. Do they work? Yes. Are they appropriate for the person who is debating couch vs. gym? No.

As your sights turn indoors, consider giving exercise another try. Set your mind that you will stick to something physically active, three times a week for two months. Make it positive and enjoy the ride.

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