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Break Through the Exercise Slump


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Are you one of those people who tends to exercise in fits and starts (or what is known as “fitness seizures” inside the industry)? …

Are you one of those people who tends to exercise in fits and starts (or what is known as “fitness seizures” inside the industry)?

Do you feel “good enough” so really don’t feel like there is a need to exercise (even though the little voice in your head tells you you should)?

Or is exercise simply considered an obligation that you have a hard time making time for?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then this guide is for you. I wrote it for the specific purpose of helping you shift your mindset towards exercise from “have to” to “get to.” And it’s not as unreasonable as you think!

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  • 1. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMPTable of ContentsIntroduction....................................................................................................................................................... 4Finding Your Why.............................................................................................................................................. 5My Personal Why................................................................................................................................................ 719 Ways Exercise Helps You Live Longer (And Better)....................................................................................... 8Life, Love, and Loss.......................................................................................................................................... 11The Science of Hope........................................................................................................................................ 12Find What You Love........................................................................................................................................ 13Brainstorming Ideas.......................................................................................................................................... 14Making It Real .................................................................................................................................................. 15Dealing With the Head Trash............................................................................................................................. 17Set a Start Date ................................................................................................................................................ 19Setting Goals................................................................................................................................................... 20Goals Made Easy.............................................................................................................................................. 21The Post-Goal Letdown.................................................................................................................................... 23Your Brain on Exercise.................................................................................................................................... 242
  • 2. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMP9 Ways Exercise Benefits Your Business.......................................................................................................... 25The Monkey Off Your Back............................................................................................................................... 27Your Next Step................................................................................................................................................. 28About Jen Waak.............................................................................................................................................. 293
  • 3. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMP Introduction I’m guessing this may be the first time you’ve ever read a book about finding your training mojo written by a Kilimanjaro-summiting health and fitness coach who was pulled out of pre-school for being too sick to fingerpaint and take naps. If that makes you think that you might be in for something a little bit different, I hope to not disappoint. From my own first-hand experience to watching and helping friends and clients, I’ve seen both the struggles that come from helping inactive people find their own rhythm and the life-changing results that come when they do.“Movement is medicine for I realize that this may come across as a bit of a outlandish statement, but if there is any life goal you haven’t yet creating change in a succeeded at, I can almost guarantee that incorporating movement into your day will get youperson’s physical, mental, closer. Not sure you buy that? Then settle in. My goal by the end of this is to help you find your and emotional states.” personal inspiration for getting out and moving your body every day. - Carol Welch 4
  • 4. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMPFinding Your WhySome people wake up every day, excited about exercise, going to the gym, and working up a sweat. Andthen there is the rest of us. Even the most rationalWe need a reason. left-brained personBecause knowing – cognitively – that we should exercise most days of the week makes decisionssimply isn’t enough. There can be a huge gulf between knowing something and emotionally – whetheractually OWNING it. they realize it or not.For those of us who have parents who died early from lifestyle diseases or are trying to stave off the effects ofchronic conditions, the incentive is a bit higher, but it can still take some work to actually make exercisehappen. As a wellness coach, I hear a wide variety of whys from my clients: I don’t want to go blind from diabetes, I couldn’t sleep because I was worried I’d die of sleep apnea, I want to delay the onset of this disease, and exercise makes me feel more focused and productive. And throughout the pages of this ebook youll hear more whys from a variety of entrepreneurs and other professionals. Simon Sinek, in his brilliant book, Start with Why, says that people don’t buy from you because of what you do – instead they buy from you because of WHY you do it. Modern neuroscience tells us that even the most rational left-brainedperson still makes buying decisions emotionally – whether they realize it or not. And, making the decision to5
  • 5. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMPchange your habits to add in activity is a mental buying decision: you are now buying into the belief thatadding in movement is going to be better for you than your current behavior.I think that finding your why is extremely powerful. It’s the thing that can help keep you motivated on the daysyou are busy and the weather is lousy. We’ll couple it here with helping you find activities you love in order toturn exercise from a “have to” to a “want to” activity. “Im results oriented, and the bottom line is that there is no way I could stop exercising once I started seeing these results: 1. I feel stronger, more capable, and Im more productive. 2. Im happier. 3. I have less pain. 4. Its fun! I like to do things that are challenging. For so long I had only challenged my brain, but when I started exercising again after years of health issues, I remembered what it was like to challenge my body, too. Theres not much that can beat accomplishing a yoga pose you could have never imagined you would be able to do. Mostly, although all the above benefits are obviously great, I exercise because in that hour or 90 minutes, I am able to truly live in the moment. I am able to do something that feeds me physically and emotionally. The reason I started working for myself was because I wanted more freedom to do the things I loved...but I found that after a while, I was working even more than I was when I worked for someone else, AND I had trouble turning the business brain off. Exercising gives me a time that is only mine, time to let the day unfold in a positive way, or close the day with time to think and reflect on what has happened. Having this time and structure really helps me become a better person and business owner.” - Stacy Stone, Entrepreneur, Ethical Launch6
  • 6. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMPMy Personal Why Looking back on my childhood, the fact that I’m doing what I do today is almost inconceivable. As a toddler, I spent months in and out of the hospital, sleeping in oxygen tents, suffering from severe asthma. As you already know, I was pulled from preschool, and things didnt improve in grade school – asthma attacks were the inevitable conclusion to any strenuous activity. I couldnt even complete the one-mile run in the 6th grade Presidential Fitness Test, because, well, I couldnt. I remember being the last kid on the track with the gym teacher running along beside me while all of my classmates stood and watched. And many other stories like that Id just as soon forget. The logical conclusion of being that sick as a grade schooler is that I never went outside and played (my summertime friends were the Ingalls family and Nancy Drew), never learned sports, and my chosen high school extracurricular activities were drama, speaking, and anything else that involved my brain and not my body. In case that wasnt enough to solidify my sedentary lifestyle, when I was 14 I had a serious waterskiing accident (yes, really) where I cracked my head open and broke my right collarbone, followed just two years later by a car accident in which I broke two vertebrae in my back and was temporarily paralyzed.Which makes the fact that I summited Kilimanjaro 18 months ago and now do health and fitness coaching a bit head-scratching.Except for one thing: my grandfather had a massive heart attack at my house when I was in high school and At the moment Iended up having a quadruple bypass and I watched him go from being the one person who would go on the“scary” rides with me at DisneyWorld when I was nine to now struggling to go up and down the stairs. swore that wouldAnd at the moment I swore that would never be me. never be me.But, I wasn’t exactly a pillar of health, and I didn’t have the skills and knowledge to know what I needed tochange or what I needed to be doing. And in pre-internet rural Wisconsin, options were pretty limited. I just somehow intuitivelyknew that exercise was a really important component – and this was a game I was determined to win.7
  • 7. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMP 19 Ways Exercise Helps You Live Longer (And Better)“Walking is man’s When I was younger, I just had to trust that exercise was good for me. Now, with the internet and 21 st century media, we hear on virtually a daily basis just how valuable exercise is to your overall health. The benefits of exercise go far beyond just good best medicine.” cardiovascular health and strength. Hippocrates Exercise truly is the fountain of youth. 19 Ways Exercise Helps You Live Longer (And Better) 1. Alleviates depression. Exercise provides a multi-prong attack against depression – by releasing dopamine (the feel-good neurotransmitter), it improves self-esteem and rebuilds the brain. In just a few hours per week, studies have found a 47% decrease in depression symptoms and is proving to be more effective than some drugs – without all of the nasty side-effects. 2. Reduces anxiety. The physical effects of exercise (elevated heart rate and breathing) are similar to those of anxiety. By regularly exercising, you teach your body that those two symptoms arent correlated with something bad – so the next time you feel that way you dont automatically get panicky. Plus, the exercise interrupts the stress feedback loop and re-regulates your hormones faster. Studies show a 48% decrease in anxiety once people start exercising. 3. Stops blood sugar spikes. Simply by exercising, even with no other changes, blood sugar levels stop spiking – even in non-diabetics. Insulin sensitivity increases, and diabetics see a 58% decrease in symptoms. 4. Decreases cognitive decline (dementia and Alzheimers). Dr. John Ratey, author of the book SPARK, tells his patients that the point of exercise is to build and condition the brain. Ill talk a lot more about brain benefits later, but studies indicate that exercise decreases the progression of dementia and Alzheimers by 50%. 5. Banishes colds and flu. Youll be 50% less likely to get sick (and even get cold and flu symptoms). 8
  • 8. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMP 6. Helps avoid losing muscle mass. Most people over 40 lose 8% of their muscle mass each decade, but that is from inactivity, not “the inevitable effects of aging.” (see image on right) 7. Improves balance. I’m not talking high-wire tricks or balance training classes – a simple walk will do since during gait we spend more than half our time on just one foot. And, better balance means decreased risk of falls (the #1 cause of death in the elderly). 8. Aids in rebalancing hormones. As we age – and let life get the best of us – our hormones (appetite, reproductive, stress, metabolic, mood) tend to get further and further out of whack. Exercise helps give the body a virtual reboot. 9. Decreases your risk of fractures. Weight-bearing exercise (such as walking or lifting weights) strengthens bones, which reduces your risk for fractures. Plus, the balance benefits mentioned above make it much less likely you will fall (the leading cause of fractures), and even if you do, by having strong bones youre less likely to break something. 10. Reduced risk of heart attacks. Just 2.5 hours of moderate activity per week reduces your risk of heart attack by 14%. 11. Keeps you fit. What this means to me is the ability and willingness to be up for whatever life throws at me. Lifting and carrying heavy stuff, moving furniture, going on amazing hikes with stunning vistas, and wandering the streets of Amsterdam (or Moshi, Tanzania) for hours with a heavy pack are all really doable. 12. Aids cancer recovery. The most common side effect of cancer is fatigue. Exercise is the most commonly prescribed treatment for fatigue – so between beating fatigue, mood benefits, and other health benefits, exercise is a cancer survivors best friend.9
  • 9. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMP 13. You sleep better. You’ll both fall asleep faster and sleep longer (and more deeply) when you add in regular exercise. 14. Alleviates arthritis symptoms. Arthritis is very much a use-it-or-lose it type disease. When my grandmother took up hand quilting in her late 70s, her manual dexterity dramatically improved and her arthritis symptoms virtually disappeared. The arthritis foundation considers exercise its #1 weapon against the disease. 15. Controls appetite signaling. Exercise does more than just burn calories. It also controls Many people these days leptin and other hormones that help signal the brain that you are hungry. So exercise is, indeed, a double-whammy. live too short and die too long. 16. Reduces ADD/ADHD symptoms. Because of exercises ability to improve concentration, attention, and focus, as well as its effect on anxiety and stress, exercise is becoming a more common treatment for ADD/ADHD. 17. Ward off migraines. Migraines are particularly tricky, but for the majority of migraine-sufferers, moderate exercise helps reduce the severity of and increase the time between migraines. 18. Reverses chronic fatigue. Similar to how exercise aids in cancer recovery, it will do the same to chronic fatigue (although the hard part is actually doing it when you are that tired). But, in at least 60% of cases, light exercise, such as walking, dramatically improves or completely reverses symptoms. 19. Live independently longer. Current health trends indicate that 40% of all Americans will end up in an assisted living facility at some point in their lives. It should go without saying that the more fit you are, the less likely you are to not end up there. “I exercise regularly because I feel so much better when I do. Theres something about breathing deeply that wakes me up for the day, helps me to sleep at night, and provides me with a general sense of well-being throughout the day. I have a muscular build, and Ive found that my muscles seem to be happier when they get a regular dose of oxygen. And, Im just happier when I move, at least a little each day, even if its just walking.” - Julie Daley, Writer, Speaker, Teacher, Unabashedly Female10
  • 10. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMP Life, Love, and Loss But for all of the science and data in the world, experience is still almost always the best teacher. And apparently she had a lesson (or two) to teach me. A year after my grandfather’s heart attack I went off to college and had the quintessential college experience – until that fateful Friday when I was 21. It was homecoming weekend and I had just completed my first day at a new job that I was really excited about. I got home that afternoon only to have my brother arrive minutes later telling me that our Mom had died. She was 47, and had died of a massive heart attack. She was my Mom and my best friend, and I was devastated (not to mention completely paranoid about massive heart attacks – a fear I still have two decades later). But, it took until after college graduation and moving three times across three different state lines, that I was finally able to settle back into this whole exercise thing. I like to think of my twenties as my “experimental” stage: Abs of Steel, Tae Bo, running, circuit machines, tae kwon do, tai chi, cycling, Bowflex – you name it. I had what is joked about in the industry as “fitness seizures.” I’d do something for a few days or weeks – even months. And then the weather would change, Id go back on the road 5 days a week, or I would get hurt or frustrated, and I’d give up. Then some time would go by, I’d be reminded of my past and I would seek out something else. I needed to not only exercise to be What is the point of healthy, but I also wanted it to be fun. What is the point of doing something we hate so we can live longer? Seriously!doing something you And then in 2006 my Dad died at the age of 67 (followed by my grandmother three weeks later). To say I was reeling – on hate so you can live many levels – would be an understatement. To have lost both of your parents by your mid-30s to preventable lifestyle diseases definitely causes some interesting mindset shifts. I was now alternating between an extremely fatalistic “I’m longer? Seriously! gonna die decades between my time” and a more rebellious “oh, hell no, I have too much living to do” mindset. So back on the hunt I went. While I had settled into an exercise routine I liked/tolerated, I was dealing with more and more chronic pain from my car accident two decades earlier, my ridiculously long work hours, and the 3” heels I insisted on wearing to work every day. And I had this funny feeling that I still didn’t have all of the answers I was looking for. 11
  • 11. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMPThe Science of HopeEnter a little-known system called Z-Health, which finally gave me the framework I’d spent my life looking Learning that everythingfor, including this idea: “The Science of Hope.” Based upon neurology, the Z-Health courses are steeped is all a skill changedin the idea that everything is a skill – including sport. Sports skill development isn’t really taught in thiscountry – the prevailing wisdom is that you either “have it” or you don’t. Except, that’s actually not true everything for me!– it’s not that you “dont have it” its that no one ever took the time to teach you. • If your vision and coordination are screwed up so that you can’t catch a ball – that is a correctable skill. • If you have a hard time telling left from right so are always going the wrong way, that is a fixable skill. • If you can’t remember a movement pattern you are taught in dance or some other physical movement class, that’s also a skill. • If you cant balance to save your soul, thats also a skill. • If youre not the fastest runner, the key isnt to tell you to run faster. The key is to teach you proper running mechanics. • If you were badly hurt in an accident and dealing with chronic pain, over the years your body has learned the skill of pain that it can unlearn.Learning that everything is all a skill changed everything for me!Suddenly I was hiking and kayaking and planning that trip to Kilimanjaro that I first started dreaming of in 2005. A game of frisbeeafter work? Sure. Did I know how to throw a frisbee? No, but it was just a skill I would learn. “I feel better, stronger, faster, healthier, and more energetic in general. When I skip it, I often do regret it. The mental benefits can be summed up in one word: focus.” - Chris Guillebeau, Author, Art of Non-Conformity12
  • 12. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMPFind What You LoveAs you can tell from my decades of trial and error, I believe the key is finding what you love (and recognizethat love is fickle, so you will likely change you mind - a lot). As I mentioned before, I seriously don’t see thepoint in spending hours per week doing what we hate so we can live longer. A couple of years ago I got a note from a woman looking for a way to start exercising, but wasn’t at all confident in her ability to follow the standard cardio and strength fitness prescription — it seemed like a lot and boring as all get-out – and could I help make it more doable. As I learned more about her, her life, and what she liked to do and didn’t, my recommendation boiled down to this: “Start simple: have a dance party in your living room with your kids. This should be fun.” I recently heard from her again, and she thanked me again for my advice and said itreally turned things around for her. Just that simple advice to do what she loves – with the people she lovesthe most.And I honestly believe that it SHOULD be that simple. Do what you love, as often as you can.If you’re thinking, “but Jen, I’ve never liked to exercise” I totally get that. But odds are Do what you love – assomething over the years has caught your eye – and I have a four-step process to help often as you figure out what that is, break it down into manageable pieces, and even deal withany potential head trash you may be facing.13
  • 13. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMPBrainstorming IdeasOur first step is to come up with a master list of ideas to work from. What I need you to do is: “Fitness is the side effect 1. Grab a paper and pen, big stickies and markers, or laptop and favorite notetaking tool. … play is the solution.” 2. Settle in to your favorite creative space – either alone or with a friend. 3. Brainstorm a list of all of the activities/sports/physical things to do that look like fun (or were fun in a previous life).Remember, were focusing on FUN. We’ll worry about practicality in the next section – as I’m constantly astonished at howaccessible some of these things can be.Here are some mental cues to help get you started. • Sports and activities from grade school, high school, college • Local park and rec clubs (the groups playing outside at the local parks) • Activities in TV shows you like to watch (Dancing with the Stars, the Amazing Race, etc) • Communing with nature: hiking, camping, walking, running, cycling, freerunning, surfing, swimming, kiteboarding, rock climbing, snowshoeing, mountain biking • Summer and winter olympic sports • Martial arts (trust me when I say there is a style for everyone) • Yoga, pilates, dance • Professional sports (football, basketball, soccer, hockey, baseball) • Active video games (Wii, Kinect, etc) • and the granddaddy of all lists from wikipedia (
  • 14. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMP Making It Real Nice job making a list! Next: 1. Circle the 3-5 activities that put the biggest smile on your face. These are going to be the activities we are going to see if we can make work for you. 2. Pull up your favorite search engine, grab a couple of fresh sheets of paper, and unleash your creativity. Here is where the rubber meets the road. 3. Pick your favorite from the activities you just circled. Were going to start there, and I want you to work through the questions below along with any other practical logistics-type questions that come up. If the first activity doesnt pan out, work you way through the others until you have one YES."The doors we open “Making It Real” Questions and close each day My hope is that by the time you work through these questions there wont be any practical decide the lives we considerations remaining in terms of HOW you can make your favorite activity happen. And then once we have the logistics in place we’ll deal with any potential head trash next. live." - Flora Whittemore • Do you need to find a club, group, school, or class to participate? If so, put your google-fu to work to find a few different options – you’ll need to evaluate pricing, schedule, and group “vibe” before committing to anything. Particularly if you are a wary beginner, it’s SO SO important to find a group that is supportive of beginners. That alone is enough to make or break an entire experience. • Do you want or need an activity partner? Don’t underestimate the value of having someone there with you to support and motivate you. • Can you afford it? My Kilimanjaro trip was a once-in a lifetime experience, in no small part because it was an incredibly expensive trip. But even if summiting mountains isnt on your bucket list, activities like dance lessons can still get expensive. If its something you really want to do, what other trade-offs can you make to make it happen? 15
  • 15. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMP • What about childcare? One of the biggest challenges my clients find with getting to group anythings is child care and/or after-school activities. It’s not a dealbreaker, just plan around it. • Do you need new equipment? Sure you can mountain bike on a 15-year-old bike, but I can guarantee that you’ll enjoy it a whole lot more if you get a newer, lighter bike made of modern materials. Buying used or at a end-of-season clearance can save you a bundle. • What about a basics class? There is nothing like getting some basic instruction to help jumpstart progress – making sure you have the right gear and getting some technique basics can turn what would be an OK outing into a spectacular one. • Mix it up. Say you want nothing more than to master downward facing dog (a yoga move), but your budget and schedule only allow you to attend an in-person class once a week. There are lots of online programs and DVDs that can supplement your in-person training. • Do you travel for work? Can you use facilities in other cities or use an online/DVD program for while you are on the road. • Is your list seasonal? I’m a wimp about the rain (and I live in Seattle, go figure) so I have an indoor list and an outdoor list. You may need to do the same. Jumping in with both feet and Why just one activity? Ive learned through a lot of trial and error with myself and clients that choosing just one thing has the highest likelihood of success if its something you like. Conversely, jumping in with bothtrying 10 things at once leads to feet and trying 10 things at once leads to burnout and frustration because progress isnt being madeburnout and frustration because anywhere. progress isnt being made So, we are starting here with one activity. Once you feel like you have the basics down, feel free to revisit the anywhere. list an add another – actually, Id love it if you did! 16
  • 16. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMP Dealing With the Head Trash If you, like me, spent your entire youth being picked last for sports, the last thing you are probably excited about is showing off your physical prowess (or perceived lack thereof) to a bunch of strangers. So, now fast forward, oh, about 30 years and I’ve spent the past 18 months desperately wanting to take Capoeira (a Brazilian martial art) classes. I had even visited some local schools, but there was still this scared little girl inside of me – the one who was constantly teased, picked last, and came in last. And even though I had successfully climbed Kilimanjaro a year earlier, there was something about joining a group class that required all of this coordination (and performing sport in front of other people) that just made my chest tighten up. What if I couldn’t do it? What if I looked stupid? Fortunately a dear friend knows me all too well, reminded me of my success on Kilimanjaro, and asked how I could do that and still hesitate at this. I weakly replied, “but Kili was easy, all I had to do was put one foot in front of another – if nothing else I’m persistent.”There was still this scared little I can honestly say that I don’t remember how the rest of the conversation went,girl inside of me – the one who except that he patiently walked me through all of my mental resistance towas constantly teased, picked attending class until I was ready to find a school to attend. A google search revealed a women’s-only beginner class starting the following week. I took that as last, and came in last. a sign that I was meant to do this and sent off an email to register for it before I had a chance to change my mind. Everyone has to go through this on their own, but here are some things to keep in mind: • Take a friend. That way you’ll have at least one person who you know has your back. • Be patient with yourself. As I said above, this is a skill, and all skills take time to develop. Take it slowly and be intentional in what you are doing. And mostly, be patient with yourself (yes, I’m being redundant, but you need to hear it). • You aren’t the same you you were before. Excessive use of pronouns aside, I think you get my point. I’ve accomplished a lot from my playground days, and you have, too. It’s time to create a new set of memories! 17
  • 17. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMP • What you are learning is a skill. When babies are learning to walk we don’t immediately start mocking them when they fall back down – instead, we celebrate their successes. Adults (most of them) are a lot nicer than we were as kids, and will be there cheering you on, not waiting for you to fail. • You are taking a risk - celebrate that. Trying something new is both scary and exciting. Embrace the newness of it. • Be a role model. Whether it’s for your kids, your friends, or your colleagues – you can set a good example. Not to be too melodramatic, but be the change you want to see in the world. • Imagine a worst case scenario. Although this sounds counterintuitive, this is how I get myself to do all sorts of things that I know I should but really don’t want to. Once I realize that the realistic worst case scenario is a case of hurt pride, I pull up my big girl panties and get it done.As for my Capoeira classes, Im obsessed. Ive been able to easily keep up, rarely get lost (and when I do, the more advancedstudents patiently help me), am making new friends, and having a great time. My worst case scenario was so far from true! “The joy of being outdoors is one reason I exercise, I never run on a treadmill. But my biggest running "why" is probably Rose. I started running 12 years ago having never been a runner, but about two years in I decided to do a summer 5k. For this race your starting time was based on your age. So the old-timers went out first and as the clock ticked down youd glance at your race number with your starting time written on it and move up closer to the start line. It was great, everyone cheering for you as you took off. So Im heading down the last mile and I come up on Rose. She was 80 years old, we all cheered for her, the first runner out. I slowed down, patted her on the shoulder and said, "You look great, Rose!" and then I kept going. I run because I want to be Rose.” - Yolanda Facio, Business Owner, Red.Hot.Momentum “I work out because it gives me energy and makes me feel good. I find when I start my day with a workout, it gets my mind and body moving and Im already on a roll at 7:30 in the morning and that momentum continues with me throughout my day.“ - Liz T., Marketing18
  • 18. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMPSet a Start Date Congratulations! You have found something you think you can love, made it real, and sorted through all the noise in your head around trying something new. Now, it’s time to pick a start date. Write your start date here: ________________________ P.S. What happens if you get started and decide it’s not for you? No biggie. We brainstormed that list for a reason. :-) “Exercise rejuvenates me. It clears my mind and allows me to be more productive during the day. Even when Im at the end of the day and feel like I cant take another step, light exercise helps me get my body and mind back to a place where I can keep going. For a working mom of 2 I just cant say how important that is. I ALWAYS make time for exercise because I cant keep up with my life when I dont.” - Jennifer Dougherty, Advertising / EVP Account Lead “I exercise so I can look good for my husband and feel good about myself. I also want to be healthy so I can live long and have more babies. Mentally and cognitively, I feel happy and positive about putting in the work, and like I am taking care of myself.” - Anonymous19
  • 19. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMPSetting GoalsI’m a big fan of goals; I like to be good at stuff and cross things off of lists. Goals are “Without a target, itswhy people train for marathons (not me, mind you, but I know people that do) and why difficult to aim."other non-professional sporting competitions exist. It gives you a target to aim for– after all, if you are simply training for the ambiguous goal of “getting in shape” or “being better” how do youknow when you’ve gotten there? And more importantly, how on earth do you stay motivated? “I do it for my mental health. I work really hard and sometimes this entrepreneurial journey is a challenge mentally. If I dont get out and exercise I can feel myself building up a lot of negativity. Exercising is my way of releasing that stress and negativity and feeling good. Im able to think without interruption and let my mind wander freely. I get really great ideas while running because Im not so task oriented.” - Andrea Vahl, Social Media Consultant, Andrea Vahl “I exercise to keep pain manageable and the desire to give myself the best chance of being vibrant in my older years. Mentally and emotionally I find a greater sense of well being and feeling that I have control over my life (instead of chronic pain controlling my life).” - Christine Martell, Principal, VisualsSpeak “Exercise provides balance for me - it allows me to let my mind go wherever it needs to go (grocery lists, solve work problems, meditate/zone out, etc.) while at the same time "doing something." There is something about the repetitive nature of running that helps me solve problems, and I feel more efficient and effective in all areas of my life when I am running regularly.” - Anonymous20
  • 20. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMPGoals Made EasyEven people who love goals tend to freak out when I ask them to set training goals. People who “Im not telling you its goingare otherwise sane and rational either are struck dumb or have such an unrealistic list, that it’s, to be easy, Im telling you itswell, unrealistic. going to be worth it.”But, it can actually be really simple. And non-painful. And even fun.As a quick reminder, there are two types of goals: • Behavior-based goals are things like, “I’m going to exercise for 30 minutes 3 times this week.” With a behavior-based goal you are 100% in charge or whether it happens or not. • Outcome-based goals are things like, “I’m going to lose 10 pounds by Labor Day.” Outcome-based goals rely on choosing the appropriate behaviors to reach your outcome-based goal. I think both types of goals are important to have, and the behavior-based goals should be set up to guide you towards your outcome-based goals. I usually tell clients to start with behavior-based goals; because you completely control the success or failure of the goal you’re more likely to be successful. Then, once you get your behavior-based goals dialed in, you can add in the outcome-based goals. But, if you need that outcome-based goal (e.g. completing a 5K) to even be able to start with the behavior-based goals, then go for it. That was what I did to train for Kilimanjaro – once the date was picked and the deposit was made, I totally upped my training game. S.M.A.R.T. Goals Whichever way you decide to go, your goals must be S.M.A.R.T. Youre probably already familiar with the idea of S.M.A.R.T. goals, so I wont go over it here, but I’m going to take a second and remind you about the ATTAINABLE component. This is where most of my overachiever friends and clients tend to get tripped up. Oftentimes, they seem to think that the laws of time and physiology don’t apply to them so they create completely unrealistic goals for their body and their schedule.21
  • 21. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMPThe result: They quickly get hurt and/or realize they’ve bitten off more than they can chew.No pun intended, but this is a marathon, not a sprint. We’re looking to create lifelong habits here. Your S.M.A.R.T Goal Specific _________________________________________________________________ Measurable _________________________________________________________________ Attainable _________________________________________________________________ Relevant _________________________________________________________________ Time-Bound _________________________________________________________________ “Long term, I just like how I feel when I work out. I like the confidence and I like being strong. But sometimes when that long-term "higher why" isnt firing, it comes down to plain old vanity. I prefer how I look when Im getting a lot of exercise. Maybe thats shallow but it keeps me moving. :) One of the biggest physical benefits Ive noticed is that I can try something new – this month I went skiing for the first time in 30 years – and Im strong enough to handle it. Whatever I ask my body to do, I know its going to be up for it. And I generally just feel physically good when Im getting lots of exercise. But, the mental benefits are the big one for me – Im more confident, Im more productive, Im more focused, and I just feel better. When I dont get the amount of exercise I need, I feel "off" and cranky ... just not right, physically or mentally.” - Sonia Simone, Software Entrepreneur and Marketing Teacher, Copyblogger22
  • 22. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMP The Post-Goal Letdown"There is no finish Setting goals has a downside – what the heck do you do afterwards? I’ve seen it happen in business and I’ve seen it happen when it comes to both line. Its a diet and exercise. You launch a product, complete a project, or run a continuous successful event and then afterwards you find yourself a bit forlorn and lost – just not quite sure what to do with yourself. There is simply a vacuum in journey and Im your life – from both a time and mental energy expenditure standpoint.always looking to In the Ironman Triathalon community they recognize this as post-Ironman push my limits." depression, and they advocate that anyone training for a big event already have another event on the calendar further out. They don’t do this is a means of masochistic overtraining, but actually as a sanity-retention tool. Yes, you get to accomplish your big goal, bask in the success, and give yourself adequate time to recover – but then you need to gear yourself up for the next thing so you don’t completely lose momentum. I found the same thing with my Kilimanjaro climb – I got home from the trip and after recovering from jetlag I was completely lost in my training. I no longer had my nice neat training program and long weekend hikes to anchor my training. I had failed to put something else on my calendar to focus my energies on, and as the Seattle weather turned to rain my training went on hold as I searched for my next thing. Your Post-Goal Goal: ______________________________________________ “Exercise makes me feel good. I love taking my dog for a walk or riding my bike to clear my head. Every time I step away from my work I feel energized, happier and Im more productive. It helps me get my mind and body in balance and I feel my memory is better when I take the time to exercise. I also love the jolt of adrenaline that comes from pushing myself to the sweating point.” - Karl Staib, PartyBiz Connect 23
  • 23. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMPYour Brain on Exercise In case you havent already figured it out, Im passionate about this topic, in no small part because regular exercise – just 150 minutes a week (just a 20-minute walk a day) – is one of the absolute best things we can do to keep our brain active, healthy, and growing. Right up until the day we die. Fit kids perform better in school, they test better right after PE class, Just 150 minutes of and they are more focused and better behaved. And even though as light exercise per adults we arent tested like that, the same holds true. week significantly • If you are already creative, you can become more creative. improves cognitive function. • If you already have a good memory, you can improve it. • If you are already focused, you can improve your attention span.If you need your brain to work for you, then you need to work it. “I know that I am a whole unit – mind, body and spirit, and if I do not put energy and attention into all parts of myself, then none of my parts will work effectively. Physically, Im more strong, powerful, and relaxed after exercising and mentally I find that Im more focused, clear, and creative when I exercise on a regular basis.” - Pamela Slim, Business Coach and Writer, Escape from Cubicle Nation24
  • 24. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMP 9 Ways Exercise Benefits Your Business If you are Not only is exercise the fountain of youth, allowing you to live long and very full life, but it’s also one of the best things you can do for your business. committed to Dr. John Ratey, in is book SPARK, puts it this way, “exercise is like Miracle-Gro growing your for the brain.” And while I’m not a fan of Miracle-Gro, I still really like the metaphor. business, If you are committed to growing your business, exercise should be considered just as important as marketing, sales, or any other business activity. exercise should be considered 9 Ways Exercise Benefits Your Businessjust as important 1. Improves learning and memory. Exercise stimulates connections in the as marketing, hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory. Something as simple as a 20-minute walk, dance party, or hula hoop break will yield huge dividends. sales, or any 2. Drowns out fear and anxiety. The neurotransmitters triggered by exercise interrupt the obsessive feedback loop in the other business brain that cause our fear and anxiety. Studies show a 50% reduction in anxiety when exercise is added to someone’s life. activity. Scared to start (or finish) something? Time to get moving – literally. 3. Is a gateway to creativity. Exercise provides the space in the day to un-focus on the problem at hand to give the other parts of the brain the space to make the random and unexpected connections that cant happen when we are trying. Its the same reason why we often have our best ideas in the shower, as we are waking up, or as were drifting off to sleep. 4. Makes you more focused. Much like regular exercise stimulates connections in the hippocampus to aid with learning and memory, it also increases the size of the basal ganglia, which is the center primarily responsible for our ability to pay attention. 5. Puts you in a better mood. Dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter, is released in spades when you exercise. There is pretty much no way to exercise and not feel better afterwards. 25
  • 25. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMP 6. Boosts motivation. That same neurotransmitter, dopamine, that helps put you in a good mood also plays a key role in motivation. The more you exercise, the more dopamine gets stored, and the more receptive the reward center in the brain becomes. 7. Creates confidence. When your fear and anxiety are suppressed, you are more focused and creative, are in a better mood, and get up in the morning motivated to get stuff done. Confidence is a natural outcome. 8. Helps with impulse control. The calming and focused effects of exercise keep us from firing off a hasty (and ill-conceived) email or tweet. 9. Reduces stress. It probably goes without saying that when you are more motivated, remember things better, are more confident, are more creative, more focused, and in a better mood that you are also less stressed. Additionally, exercise helps re-regulate the hormones created during stress so your body can more quickly return to homeostasis. “If I dont move my body, I feel horrible. My stress and anxiety levels rise and I get cranky. My digestion gets sluggish and I feel heavy, weighed down. I want to feel good, so I have to move my body. I dont even call it exercise, just movement. That way, I dont have a mental aversion to it. Instead, its a treat - something I GET to do instead of HAVE to do.” - Sukie Baxter, Certified Rolfer, Posture & Movement Therapist, Sukie Baxter “My motivation for exercise is changing a bit. In years past, I exercised in order to maintain manage my stress levels as well as to look good. My motivation is shifting as I get older and I learn more about neurology and brain & neuroscience. I realize that to keep moving has a host of benefits - the obvious ones of staying young and staying fit. But I am learning that there is a direct correlation between an active body and an active brain. As I have seen people grow older and less active, I see a corresponding drop in intellectual activity and engagement. So, Ive resolved to keep moving in order to stay smart and to stay engaged.” - Anonymous26
  • 26. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMPThe Monkey Off Your Back This is actually a tenth, monster reason why I think that exercise is great for every entrepreneur and professional. Climbing Kilimanjaro was nothing other than an extraordinary experience. Even though I had done minimal training for it, I had precisely targeted it to my personal weak areas – and the result was that I summited with ease. I felt fantastic in camp every night, with energy to spare. But for as extraordinary as that climb was, it was the mental shift in me that literally took my breath away. I’d heard it was life-changing, and my thought was, “yeah, right, it’s a 19,000 foot mountain, how lifechanging can it be?” What I had NEVER expected is that it would fundamentally shift my belief about who I was. The day of the summit the custom is to stop for lunch at Stella Point about 45 minutes from the summit – once the worst of the climb was over. As we made that final ascent from Stella Point to the summit I just started crying – and pretty much didn’t stop for about two weeks. If I could climb For the next 10 weeks I didn’t understand that crying jag until I was telling a that mountain friend about it, and he said to me, “Jen, that was a big deal to you. It causedyou to fundamentally shift your belief in who you are. That’s huge.” I sat there dumbfounded and realized that he was there was prettyright. I had finally done it – I had largely shed that mental image of myself as a sick little kid and converted it into a much nothing Ihealthy adult who could do pretty much whatever she set her sights on. And, if I could climb that mountain there was couldn’t do.pretty much nothing I couldn’t do.By doing something I had once viewed as impossible, it opened lots of additional doors for me. As Jonah Lehrer talksabout in his new book Imagine: How Creativity Works, creativity flows when you challenge your assumptions. I had always assumedI’d never do anything “athletic” and now that I had, what else could I do that I previously assumed was impossible?27
  • 27. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMPYour Next StepDid you know that this ebook is part of a free six-part course? It is. Its part oneof a 6-part course called How to Have the Body You Want (Without Giving UpYour Life). Click below to get the rest of the free course: the pages you just read, we worked on finding activities you love, set some S.M.A.R.T.goals, and dealt with head trash. And, for the nuts-and-bolts people, I gave you 19 ways exercise helps you live longer andbetter as well as 9 ways exercise also benefits your business.Just a little of what you can expect in the remaining 5 parts of this free course: • Find your “real why” (its probably not what you think) • Overcoming resistance (and when its just plain time to pick something new) • How for most people less is truly more • Find your personal high-payoffs (that probably have nothing to do with actually lacing up your gym shoes)P.S. Who else do you know that could benefit from this free course? I know you know someone, so go ahead and send themthis link – theyll thank you for it later.
  • 28. HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE EXERCISE SLUMPAbout Jen Waak Jen Waak is a fellow office athlete and recovering management consultant who realized that helping people was more fun than making money for Bill Gates. She is now a health, wellness, and fitness coach that works with entrepreneurs and other crazy-busy professionals to help them have the bodies they want without having to give up their lives. Also the author of the Keyboard Athletes Guide to Pain Relief & Prevention, and a Z-Health Master Practitioner, Precision Nutrition certified coach, and kettlebell instructor, Jen lives, coaches, and teaches in Seattle, WA. You can learn more about Jen at This report is free and does not contain affiliate links. Share it with the world under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. © 2012 Jennifer Waak, Fundamentals, LLC, and Keyboard AthletesTM29