On the wagon, off the wagon…What if there is no wagon?
People may need your help to recognize that their new resolution to eat right and exercise didn’t fail just because they missed a workout or ate a cookie. People miss workouts. People eat cookies. What are some things you can do to help people realize that fitness is a process and not an all-or-nothing proposition?
Remind people that this time is not last time.
People come to you with all sorts of past experiences regarding exercise. Many people come to you with negative experiences. Some people have felt judged in the past for not being as good, as in-shape, as coordinated, or as strong as some ridiculous standard of comparison. Others may feel that they have failed at some movement activity (a gym class, a dance class, a weight training program) or that they have not managed to meet some level of commitment they felt was expected. Failure leaves a mark.
Remind people that whatever they are experiencing this time does not mean they have to repeat past behaviors.
Identify areas that can be managed differently and ask questions that help a person find his or her own solution.
Your client may have to miss another workout. Your client may eat another cookie. Work with your client to identify situations that may benefit from some pre-planning. This is step one. You are not offering solutions. You may have the best solutions in the world, but they are your solutions, not your client’s.
Questions allow your client to have control over his or her choices. Control is important. What strategy could work for you if your co-worker brings in treats? What could you do in your day to make sure your health and activity is a priority? What strategies can you use to cope with unexpected challenges? Having a coping plan may help manage situations that have presented challenges in the past.
Focus on the Process
Identifying the task that needs to be done, with a focus on personal progress, has been linked to increased exercise adherence. What kind of comments promote a process focus? Feedback regarding improvements in form, in effort, in amount of weight lifted, in the increased number of repetitions, in the increase in time all focus on individual progress. Offering a person feedback based on individual improvements builds competence and competence builds confidence.
Susan Sotir Ph.D. Education Specialist, Cybex Research Institute
Cybex is a provider and manufacturer of premium commercial fitness equipment. Content featured in the Cybex Fitness Blog is meant to inspire healthy living and wellness and should not be taken as medical advice. For medical advice please consult a doctor.