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Your class participants deserve congratulations for caring about their health and wellness — and for getting started now. To help them prepare, here are the 3 biggest mistakes people make when starting a health and weight-loss program — and what you might advise them to do instead.[private PRO-Platinum|PRO-Monthly|PRO-Gratis|PRO-Seasonal|Platinum-trial|Monthly-trial|PRO-Military|30-Days-of-PRO|90 Day PRO|Stages-Instructor|Schwinn-Instructor|Instructor-Bonus]

MISTAKE #1: Thinking “Diet” Instead of Health

“Diet” is an outdated term for a temporary change in eating habits. From the start, the goal of a diet is to lose the weight so you can go off the diet and get back to eating “normally.” Which is probably what caused the problem(s) in the first place.

INSTEAD, suggest that they focus on health and think long-term. Fortunately, most people have abandoned the diet concept in favor of lifestyle and lifetime changes. Change what you eat — not just your portion sizes, not just your calories (I don”™t care what anyone says). Suggest that they make changes gradually so they don”™t feel as if they can”™t wait to get back to their old habits.

MISTAKE #2: The All-or-Nothing Approach

What”™s all-or-nothing with exercise? “I don”™t have time for my cycling class, so I won”™t work out today.”

What”™s all-or-nothing with food? “I ate a cookie, so I blew it. I”™ll start again on Monday.” (That can be really bad if it”™s Tuesday — and they spend the week eating bags of cookies to gear up for Monday”™s diet.)

INSTEAD, with exercise, think Better Than Nothing. Do whatever time allows. Won”™t 15 minutes burn more calories than skipping their workout altogether? In fact, it”™s a good idea — some say a better idea — to follow current thinking on high-intensity interval training. Plan a workout of, say, 10 or 11 minutes. Start with a short warm-up, followed by intense bursts of 30-45 seconds and 15 seconds of rest. Keep repeating till you”™re done. (This was covered in a previous post last holiday season.)

With food, review Mistake #1. They”™re in this for the long haul. What”™s 1 cookie over the course of a lifetime? After a splurge, planned or not, go right back to healthful eating. Not next Monday, but now — or at the very next meal.

MISTAKE #3: Confusing Motivation and Enthusiasm

Which comes first — motivation or results? Often, people say motivation. How can you get results if you”™re not motivated to start? Sure, there”™s some truth in that.

But my first fitness job was to show new members how to use the equipment and begin their programs. Some were excited; others were resigned: “My doctor said I need to exercise to lower my blood pressure.” “My wife told me I have to lose weight.” Some were even resentful; they did not want to be there.

Yet once the members started to see results — lose weight, feel more energetic, sleep better, get compliments — they wouldn”™t miss a day. They”™d leave a pair of cross-trainers in the trunk because it messed up their plans when they forgot them one day. Sometimes results come first.

So what is motivation? Many people think it”™s excitement, but that”™s usually on a sliding scale.

The early A.M. gym crowd, for example, is pretty consistent. A man who”™s at the gym most mornings once told me, “I didn”™t want to be here today, but I said, ‘Gotta do it.”™”

On any given day, many cycling class regulars probably feel exactly the same way.

INSTEAD, suggest that your participants take a more open approach:
- Accept love-it-hate-it feelings about exercise and eating better. One day, working on their health will feel great. Next day, they”™ll hate it. Embrace the dichotomy.

- Prepare healthy meals while grumbling. Exercise with a scowl. Complain to anyone who”™ll listen. No matter how much they didn”™t want to do it, they”™ll be glad they did.

- Redefine motivation as a neutral state. It”™s not always enthusiasm, let alone excitement. If they did it, they were motivated.

Sometimes motivation is just planning, then getting where you have to be, doing what you need to do, and pushing through the obstacles that come up — so you can get the goal you say you want.

In keeping with that view, one of my favorite quotations comes from George Bernard Shaw, who said:

“Forget about likes and dislikes; they are of no consequence.
Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.”

Of course, I”™m also partial to the short but effective Nike slogan: “Just do it.”

No one ever said, “Jump up and down with excitement first and then do it.” [/private]

Joan Kent

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