Fitness - a life-long commitment

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- It is now summer and how many of you are still going strong with your fitness programs for this year?

As the year progresses it can be difficult for many of us to stay committed to our exercise routines. Fire and motivation start to dwindle as life gets hectic and new challenges present themselves. Sometimes, we talk ourselves out of working out and we have many reasons to justify it.

Exercising can be like dating. Can you remember what happens when you meet someone special for the first time? Everything is new and exciting, but after a while the chemistry isn't what it used to be. It can get tough to continue with the same enthusiasm about the relationship when the momentum has slowed down. Sometimes we just get bored and lose interest. Having the right exercise relationship is like trying to find that special someone you can commit your life to.

So, what is the secret to staying committed? One phrase says it all, "Mind over matter." How a person thinks about exercising can determine his or her outcome. Isn't it amazing how differently you feel after you work out? Before you might be dreading the workout, but afterward you feel great and have a sense of accomplishment. It also helps to have goals to work toward. An ultimate goal such as running a marathon or starting with a small goal like putting a packed gym bag in the car or getting up five minutes earlier everyday can be just as self-fulfilling if reached. One common goal for many people is to lose weight. Rather than trying to lose five, 10, or even 20 pounds, how about a smaller number like one pound in three weeks.

These smaller goals will help you reach your larger goals. If you are not a runner, but want to run a marathon, would you start off by running a full 26 miles or one? It's important to train your mind as well as your body. By repeating to yourself reasons why you can't exercise is reinforcing a negative mind set about exercising. This can lead to excuses that might seem to justify not engaging in any type of fitness program. Bottom line is that when you do nothing, you get nothing! What do you get when you exercise?

There will be health improvements such as better circulation, mental clarity, releasing of endorphins and increased levels of serotonin. In simpler terms, it makes you feel better!

Fitness needs to be a life-long commitment rather than just temporary activity accomplished shortly before the bi-annual PT test. So, are you interested in finding your exercise soul mate? First step is to get to know you and what type of activities you like. Do you like group exercises or would you prefer something solo? What kind of intensity are you looking for? Do you have health challenges such as bad knees or back? There are so many different forms of exercising out there and more are being developed each day to suit different interests and needs. A professional fitness expert can help you find a suitable program.

The last step is taking action. Remember that this is a commitment exclusively for you. It ought to be something enjoyable and you look forward to. That way you will make the time and put forth the effort. Put your needs first and make YOU a priority.