When exercise feels like Mount Everest...

Written with love, by Nikki Lian

I was inspired to write this blog by one of my amazing clients that has been with me for four years.  She has overcome a lot of hurdles since we have been working together.  Once down almost 50 pounds, an absolute tragedy in her life occurred and she lost someone she was extremely close to too soon.  That caused her to gain all of her weight back in a matter of a month, and although this happened over two years ago, she still struggles with getting back on track.

She has a full time job, is a full time grad student as well as a full time fiancé.  She always has good energy that she brings to her workouts, and has a long term goal of getting pregnant by next October.  We’ve both discussed that in order for her to avoid risks such as gestational diabetes, she needs to lose about 70-80 pounds within the next year. 

This seems like Mount Everest. 

A lot of you have long-term goals, such as your wedding may be in six months or a year, and you want to be in the greatest shape of your life and look your absolute best.  Long-term goals may work great for some people, but as my client and I discussed, we need to make shorter term goals to climb that mountain. 

Every week my client comes in and says “Oh I have this idea.  I’m gonna juice for 5 days to jumpstart my diet!” or “I’m using this app to track my workouts!” and by the time I see her again her idea for getting started has flopped in a day.  So in our last I finally got through to her. 

She started to tell me that she got a great deal on a Hawaiian vacation, and that she really wanted to do a certain hike while she was out there.  Her vacation is in August.  Perfect.  Here is a short-term goal we can definitely work with.  Knowing her habits, I made another suggestion.

“Why don’t you start with trying to get to the gym twice this week.  Twice, besides this session.  Get an hour of a workout in.”

This is her very short-term goal.  How can someone lose 80 pounds if meeting with their trainer once a week is the only workout they get?

So we agreed upon shortening up her goals.  Short-term goals are not as intimidating!!  We are all running the marathon of life, and it is definitely not a sprint.  We are overwhelmed by a lot of other aspects in our life, so why try to overwhelm ourselves with something we should be enjoying—like exercising or being able to finish a hike?

Here are a few examples of some short, as well as very short-term goal ideas to make your journey up the mountain a little bit easier:


1.  Cutting out the soda/fast food/anything you are consuming that you need to stop:

A perfect example of very short term goals are cutting out, let’s say, soda.  For someone who drinks three cans of soda a day, you can’t just tell them to stop drinking soda.  Start with going down to two cans a day per week.  Then maybe a can, then maybe a can every other day.  Obviously this is going to take will power and consistency, but will definitely be easier than stopping cold turkey a habit that you’ve been used to most of your life.


2. Find a race: 

We’re not talking Ninja Warrior here (unless you are at that fitness level).  There are 5/10ks all the time, Color runs, Spartan races—that will take place before the top of the mountain.  Join one with a friend, and know you have to be in a certain shape to finish that race!  That may be a considered a short term goal.  And when you are finished with that one, plan another!


3.  Running a mile in under 15 minutes: 

Again, maybe you can do this already, which is fantastic.  But maybe you can’t, and this is something you’d like to work toward.  Maybe you can only do the stair climber for 5 minutes and you want to increase your time.  Make that goal of hitting 10, 15 and then 20 minutes, and it will happen.


4.  Exercise Frequency: 

Have you joined a gym recently but haven’t been able to go, whether it is because you are too busy, too intimidated or just too exhausted?  Just like my client agreed with, start with twice a week for a half hour or so.  Then maybe three times a week, and then four.  You’ll start to feel changes in your body, and want to keep up.  Eventually, the length of your workouts will change as well, and time will all of a sudden become available.

When you complete a very-short term goal you feel a sense of accomplishment.  If you slip up, you’re not falling very far and it’s easier to get right back up and continue.  You’re also less likely to lose your momentum before you reach the peak of the mountain.