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  • Joy Stevens, ND

A Goal without a Plan is Just a Wish

2019 is right around the corner. If you are like most people, you are telling yourself "next year will be different. Next year will finally be the year I WILL make changes." This time you are determined and there will be no stopping you!

Then the second, or perhaps the third, week of January hits and you realize you either didn't start anything new or you tried and have already fallen short. How depressing is that?

When it comes to exercise, changes can be as easy as committing to a 30 minute walk five times a week. It's that committing part that trips most people up. Scheduling the time for exercise just as you schedule what time you go to work, pick up the kids, or attend a social event is the key to making sure it happens. Placing it on your schedule reminds you it is important and that you need to get it done.

What about joining a gym? If you're the type who enjoys group classes, or can design and implement an exercise program on your own, this can be a great way for you to exercise.

Personally, I find gyms are not the best option for me for several reasons:

  • There is no personal accountability. If I don't go all month, no one is going to notice or care.

  • I don't like that I have to think about what I will do when I get there. I think all day long and I don't need to add an additional stressful task to my already long list.

  • I don't like crowds and fighting for use of equipment defeats the purpose of being there.

  • I like to work at my own speed. If I am tired or feeling off balance, I don't want to have to try to keep up with an entire class and I don't need someone staring at me with that "when are you going to be done with that equipment" look.

  • I don't like the feeling of inadequacy I get when I have worked out on my own, that somehow I didn't do enough.

  • I don't push myself hard enough and give up too easy.

Last month I discovered what does work for me - personal training. I found a gym that ONLY does personal training. There are up to five students per trainer. As there is currently only one trainer, there are a maximum of five students in the gym at one time. He has us working in separate areas so no issues with equipment availability and no tripping over one another. That takes care of my issue with crowding.

He instructs me on what he wants me to do for a set then lets me work at my own pace, yet he is still watching from a distance to ensure correct form and safety and to shout out encouragement. This is the part I especially love - I just show up and do what he says. No thinking or planning required! We rarely do the same thing twice, so the variety keeps it interesting. And I push through and do more reps than I would if I set my own goals.

He plans out a 50 minute workout which is just perfect. I decide how intense I want the workout to be by varying the speed, weight, or body position. Generally I leave feeling like I haven't done enough only to discover the next day that it was plenty!

He now knows I want to train 3 days per week so if I don't schedule, or I screw up my schedule and arrive at the wrong time, he knows it, and he comments on it. Accountability!

Yes, it is more expensive than a regular gym membership, but I am using it more than I would otherwise and thus on a per use basis, I am money ahead. If I attend all three sessions per week, I only pay ~$15 per session - for personal training! But that's not even the best part.

The best part is how quickly my body is responding. I am building muscle and feeling stronger. Joints that once ached and had a reduced range of motion are now more mobile and less sore. And that bad back of mine, the one with all the disc damage in the lower section, the one for which I received a surgical referral? Well, one day last week I realized for the first time in decades that I felt like a normal, pain free person. That's priceless.

And it carries over into other parts of my life such as food choices. Why mess up all the hard work by eating crap? (Let's just ignore my recent sugar binge that will not be repeated. Ever.)

I'm doing all of this because my goal is to ski next year. I haven't skied in close to 30 years and I know better than to just head for the hill and hope for the best. Working on balance and building muscle is part of my plan to achieve that goal. No wishful thinking here.

What are your goals? Who will you become in 2019?

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