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Today's Podcast Episode

Hi and welcome to today's podcast episode. I'm looking forward to getting stuck into this one where I am going to be sharing with you tips to staying consistent with your exercise program because it's so frustrating, isn't it when you start something all guns blazing and you don't keep it up. I have done that so many times. I used to be the queen of inconsistency no matter what program I did, whether it was a fitness program or something to do with something else, I would just crash and burn.

And yeah, I mean, you can go from being that person who starts and never finishes an exercise program and doesn't stick with it to actually sticking with something if you get a few things. Right. Which I'm going to share with you. Um, I'm going to break it down into how many steps that I have here. Nine steps. So I'm going to break it down into nine steps. Um, and I, I really want you to know that I really do know what it's like to not stick with something and be inconsistent. And not only that, like, I wasn't just inconsistent with programs in the past, I would tell myself just when I bought them that I wasn't only going to be consistent. I was also going to be top of the class best in the group.

I was going to be the one who would be engaging the most and doing everything that was like, II I would, I would, I thought each and every time I started something that I was going to be absolutely excellent and I was going to just be a 10 out of 10 on all levels and looking back now, that was definitely one of the problems. I mean, I recognize that now is already before I even got started the high massive expectation on, on myself. And I think sometimes we can mistake and not be really aware that we're doing that. It can just come across, it can just seem like we're being enthusiastic when actually, in fact, it's pressure perfectionism.

So many things in disguise and if we have our expectations at the start just so high, and we just think we're going to be absolutely amazing and just achieve all these wonderful goals um in a short space of time and we're going to be absolutely perfect, then we're always setting ourselves up for failure. Um So if you, if your head is wrecked by stopping and starting or starting programs and never following them through, never sticking with them enough to get results, then this episode is for you. Um So let's get stuck in. I do totally get it. The struggle with staying consistent with exercise programs. There's a huge issue with falling off track and not being able to get back on track.

And I meet so many women and, you know, we, we chat weekly and check ins. I meet a lot of my clients in check ins every week and I'm always really uh celebrating members when they come on and members, you'll know this if you're listening in my dear clients. Um, if you get on a check in when you've had a really bad week, I'm just so proud of you because it's when you've fallen off track, it is the hardest thing in the world to say you've fallen off track and to get back on track for some people. It can be very, very difficult to, um stay to get back on track, but getting back on track is staying on track, getting off track and staying off track is back to that all or nothing. And I know some of you try to get around that the, the, the being off track and staying off track by saying you're all or nothing.

So therefore you'll have to do all. You just have to keep going and not eat sugar or not miss a workout for fear of getting off track. However, it's the understanding that you're going to fall off track and learning how to get back on track and being really open about getting back on track and understanding that it's part of the journey, which helps you stay consistent with your program. And remember that if you start a 12 week, for example, a 12 week fitness program and you started thinking that you're going to have 12 perfect weeks.

That's already too much pressure, too much, too much expectation and too much getting into that danger zone of, well, what is going to happen when the inevitable happens and you're into week four and you don't do anything. What's going to happen on week five? Are you going to say you have failed? Here you go again. You have missed a week. Sure. What's the point and find it so difficult to get back on track? Is that the old you? Because if that is the old you and you continue to repeat that pattern, then how are you ever going to get to a place of consistency, consistency is doing what you said you were going to do 70 to 80% of the time writing out what you're going to do and expecting to do that for 12 weeks straight.

Is you aiming for perfectionist, for perfectionism for perfect? So understanding right from the get go that falling off track and getting back on track is being consistent is so, so important and there's so many reasons why you're going to fall off track that are really, really normal. A lack of motivation which can sometimes come from something negative happening in your life. Maybe you might be going through a tough time in work or a relationship challenge and you're going to really feel a deep lack of motivation, time constraints. So many of you are super busy and you're going to be getting curveballs thrown at you all the time. So of course, you're going to fall off track and have to get back on track.

Unrealistic goals can also really push people off track because like I mentioned, you start off guns blazing, really aiming for this really high expectation and then you don't hit it and it just makes so many people myself included, do nothing. And when you have set unrealistic goals is that going to keep you off track and therefore you're going to quit or you're going to get back on track and being off track and getting back on track is consistency. It's you never giving up and getting back on the horse and becoming consistent burnout. I only experienced burnout just a while ago doing too much fitting it all in not listening to warning signs that your body is giving you, that you need to slow down.

It's another reason why you can fall completely off track, having gone in your head so good. And then you fall off track because you've, you, you, you're burnt out, you've done too much. And then that's another time that you're off track, not sticking with your exercise program. And what happens then do you get back on track or do you stay off track and staying, staying off track, being all or nothing again? And, and so we go around in this cycle of stopping and starting. So I want you to know dear listener that if you are stuck in this cycle of starting things and never finishing them, then you have to change your behavior and it's not a lack of motivation or will or there's no lack of you wanting to achieve your goals.

I know that it's that you're approaching it a way that is not working and you need to become brutally honest that the way you're approaching it isn't working. And if you're listening to this and you're thinking, no, no, Jessica. No, it's just that this happens and this happens and then I just know those things are always going to happen and you have to get really honest with yourself about that stuff. There's always going to be big time constraints. There's never going to be a perfect time. You're always going to feel a lack of motivation. You're always going to have goals that you feel disappointed that you're not hitting soon enough, always they're not going away. So if you continue to use those as excuses and if you continue to let them get in the way, you are going to continue for the rest of your life, stopping and starting and never finishing what it is that you set out to achieve unless you change how you approach it.

And if we do the same things over and over again, and I've done this myself and I know it's such an annoying cliche but doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. I know that's said way too much the whole time, but it is true and it only really resonates with me. Now, I used to hear it a lot but not really feel it a lot, but now I feel it a lot and I can see it in myself the whole time. Now when I'm analyzing my own stuff, I'm like, oh my God, why am I expecting a different bloody result when I'm doing the exact same thing? And I'm not changing anything.

So now I'm definitely in the season of embracing change and I'm beginning to think every way I've thought about things is, is, is I need to think the other way about things, you know. Um, I've held myself back for so many years and I must say the past couple of years have been the best couple of years for me. And it's the year that the past couple of years I've embraced the most change and I have accepted that I need to do things differently and it was only since accepting that stuff that I went on and I, and I genuinely kept off the weight that I was always putting back on and now I'm in shape and I'm healthy and I'm fit and I don't drink alcohol anymore because I couldn't drink alcohol. I was drinking it way too much when I did drink and I was comfort eating and I promise you that's, that, that's healed for me.

Now, I don't do that anymore. But the only reason I was able to stop was because I had changed my approach to everything. And one of the things that I changed my approach to was how I start off programs, how I start things off, which is exactly what I'm, what I'm chatting to you now about.

So let's get going where we're already going. Um So that was my number one understanding these common challenges and understanding and I mean, this in a nice way that you're not unique that I always find that really relaxing when I say that to myself, I'm not unique. Everybody has these issues. So if everybody has these issues and there's other people that are really consistent, well, then how can I become like them? How can I address factors? Like lack of motivation, time constraints, unrealistic goals and burnout. How can I add all that into my journey and almost like embrace them as part of the journey and being really honest about it. So, step number two, and we're going to set really solid foundations.

And remember at the, by the end of this podcast episode, I want you to know how to approach starting out on a fitness program. And um number two, it's to set really realistic goals and there's a lot of things on social media out there about what is it, shoot for the moon and you'll get the stars or something like that, maybe it's the other way around. Um But I completely disagree. I think setting small manageable goals really works for a lot of people and setting huge massive goals and putting yourself under huge amounts of pressure is a lot more masculine and uh terrific for people that aren't mega busy with other things in their lives. But I know I always get super anxious. I used to have a male um, coach, I think having a coach is absolutely amazing. I always, most of the time have a coach myself.

I used to have a male coach. He wasn't to do with fitness. He was more like a life coach. And I look back now at the time, I thought he was absolutely brilliant and he really was, and I learned so much from him. He was really terrific, an American coach. He's wildly successful. But I, um, I really, it was a very anxious time for me because he would always really push me to set these huge, massive goals. And I used to just feel really anxious about it, but I kind of thought that that's the way you were supposed to feel. You're supposed to feel really anxious and stressed out about not hitting your goals.

And therefore that's what drives you forward. Um Until I kind of did a lot of personal development work on myself and learned about self love. And I learned that I don't have to actually do anything like that. I can, I can set small realistic goals, achieve them, gain confidence from achieving them and then set more goals, which is much more in line to my feminine side. Um And I feel there's much more ease and flow with that than this massive what feels like masculine, very stressful pressure.

So if you like me, don't like big massive goals, setting realistic goals at the start of starting your workout program is really important and you can catch yourself doing it. Like I know at the beginning, all my members fill out an induction form and if you ever become a member of mine and you start off in your induction form and you start to write these massive goals, just say, oops, I nearly did it again and then just make the goals a little bit smaller. Um And ways you can make goals smaller ways I make my goals smaller is I allow myself time much more time than I used to. Um I make them specific and small. Um So for example, if you wanted to lose weight and this is just an example.

So take, for example, weight loss, you want to lose weight and normally you say you're going to lose X amount of weight by X amount of time and you keep all this pressure on yourself. Instead, what can be a really nice idea is to try on the pair of jeans that you want to fit into, decide where you want to go. Like if you're a size 18 and you want to be a size 14 or a size, whatever it is 14 and you want to be a 10, I don't know. And we're all different shapes and sizes and say to yourself, you're going to get down to half a dress size. You're going to make sure that you're going to get that your jeans feel a little bit more comfortable by the end of 30 days. So much more realistic, you don't need to use the weighing scales. There's no big mad number pressure, the weighing scales don't work anyway, I have a podcast episode about that.

So just keeping your goals small and realistic and measurable and you're going to get such a little buzz then when you achieve your goal and you're going to feel that your genes are a little bit looser and you're going to think, you know what? Happy days. I'm so excited and I can't wait for the next half a dress size. And if you do have to go down two dress sizes or a dress size, just take it in small chunks and be really proud of yourself for each little bit that you go along the way. And for most of us women, we make the time pressure so short. But when you're, when you're, when you're changing your lifestyle and you want to get down to a certain size or become healthy for life. Remember that it takes time and I'm going to be doing another podcast about the realistic time it takes.

But remember to give yourself time and to focus on the action steps. Once you set your goals, the action steps become the most important thing to follow. After that, you'll only be checking in on your goals then every so often. So number three, finding the enjoyment in your program. You're starting a program, you've set nice, simple, small realistic goals and now you're going to decide you're going to make a conscious effort to find enjoyment that you're going to decide to enjoy the program and by almost making a confirmed decision to enjoy something you take the pressure off, just going to have a bit of fun. I'm going to do what I can. I'm gonna really enjoy my workout. I'm going to go slow. I'm gonna keep it at my own pace and when you decide to enjoy a workout, I mean, you're not going to be throwing yourself around the room getting really puffy and out of breath and, and red faced. Well, I go red faced anyway when I work out. Um, but I meant like, just really out of breath and absolutely wrecked.

You're not going to do that because you've said you're going to enjoy your exercise. So, enjoying your exercise means being able to enjoy it the moment and that's going to really help you find your pace and it's going to take the pressure off. I promise you from somebody that came from zapping all the enjoyment out of everything that I, that I wanted to achieve and thinking that everything had to be a long, hard struggle. And if it wasn't a struggle, I was doing something wrong. Can you imagine how crack that is? If I wasn't doing something in a really negative way, if I wasn't viewing something really negatively, I didn't think I was doing a good enough job.

When actually, when I, when I dropped all that I told you in the past couple of years I've been doing a lot of personal development stuff and I've been finding pleasure in things. Sure, that only has increased my motivation and my adherence, my consistency, um, consistency to all my action steps I have now because I enjoy it and I take the pressure off. Same with sitting in, in, in my meditation in silence for 10 minutes. Yeah, I can sit there and berate myself for the fact that my mind wanders and give out that I struggle or I can just embrace a struggle and have fun and go.

God. Isn't it hilarious? How often my mind wanders in this and just go for it and do it and enjoy it. So, next one is to prioritize consistency over intensity and this is really true. A lot of you start workout programs. I see it with my new members the whole time and you put all this pressure on yourself and go too fast, too hard. You get too sore, you push yourself way too much when, actually, when you go slow and do less and lift really light weights like little two kg weights at the start and you do less than, than, than, than you need to. And you adapt your workouts and don't do any of the really tough, any tough exercises you find and instead swap them out for easy exercises, you're just giving yourself these signals that you're doing well that you're working out and you're going to be building on that.

So you're going to see this lovely gradual progression. And it's funny we don't really notice it when it's ourselves. But if, if I was having a cup of coffee with you now, and I said I'm about to embark on a fitness program and I'm just going to go hell for leather as hard as I can for the first week. And I'm going to really push myself in the workouts. What would you say to me if you were a good buddy of mine, you'd probably said to me, what are you doing? You're going to be putting yourself off it and potentially you're going to injure yourself and why would you do that? Surely it's supposed to be fun and you'd tell me, wouldn't you? You'd tell me to go slow.

Keep it simple. Don't do anything. I find too tough. Have a, have an alternative, swap it out for easier ones. Do what I can build my confidence and progress from there. Isn't that what you would tell me to do? It is? So, make sure that you follow your own advice and we, we're devils for not following our own advice. We're great for being really lovely to everybody else and just awful to ourselves. So, next step is to create a routine and a schedule. So just to recap, you're starting a fitness program, you normally start programs and you don't continue with them and you're sick of wasting your money.

So, remember you're starting your program and you're, you're aware and you're embracing the challenges that you are going to be facing a lack of motivation, time constraints, unrealistic goals and burnout, potentially burnout. But I just wanted to throw that in burnout doesn't have to be like mad burn out just being wrecked. Um So you're under, you're aware of the challenges that are going to pop up in front of you. Number two, you're going to set really small realistic goals and not go mental on the time. Pressure. Number three, you're going to find enjoyment and you're going to make a conscious decision and a decision that you're going to enjoy the program and you're not going to make it a negative thing.

You're going to make it a positive thing. Number four, you're, you're deciding, you're gonna decide to prioritize consistency over intensity. You're going to be kind to yourself like you would a friend go slow lift, less, do less for the first while and allow gradual progression to take place. Number five, you're going to create a routine and schedule for yourself. So you're going to get out your calendar and write out the three days and times that you're going to exercise. No, kicking it down the road. No, somehow winging it into your week. But you're actually going to prioritize your health and when you prioritize your health, you know, everybody in your family benefits, you won't be resentful, cranky, irritable. You'll have your three workouts you, you time. So get them out on your calendar, your days and times and don't kick them down the road if you have them scheduled in for 10 a.m. for example, three days a week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and it gets to 10 a.m.

Don't do a load of whatever and then say you'll do it an hour. Be mega strict with yourself. Absolutely. Be super strict with yourself. And once you have your three workouts in your day in your schedule in your routine, you're going to really reap the benefits of becoming structured and your family are going to know exactly when you do your workouts, there's huge benefits to being routined and structured with the good stuff like fitness in your life, integrating fitness into your life as non negotiables and knowing exactly when you're going to do it is going to really help you stay consistent and then you can plan everything else around those three workouts. You put the workouts in your diary first and then work goes in and then everything else goes in.

But think of those three workouts, like the medicine that you're taking the stuff that's getting you fit and healthy and calm. And the lovely thing about being really regimented about the days and times is that you notice when you start slipping, you don't really notice when you start slipping when you just do it randomly at any day during the week. Not only is it really irritating to do it randomly any day during the week because that's really irritating because you spend most of the week thinking about exercise. You only have to do 3 30 minutes, but you spend all week long thinking about it, which is horrific. Another benefit about structuring it is that you start to notice when you're, when you're missing them.

So, rather than be getting to Friday and go, I'll cram into now and that wasn't actually a bad week at the end of it all. You know, I'm thinking all week, your week was bad and then it not being bad and way too much emotion. You think to yourself, you know, when you're starting to slip, if you're, if you're scheduled in for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 10 a.m. and you miss the Monday 10 a.m. you know, by Monday night, you've missed one workout and then you've got to get on to that 10 a.m. Tuesday workout. For example, you're much more aware of your behavior. You're much more aware that you've just let somebody else or work or whatever come in front of your work out. You can only become aware, hyper, aware of that stuff when you're, when you're routined and when you're scheduled. So number six, accountability and support who doesn't need accountability and support from time to time because of like what I mentioned, you're always going to feel a lack of motivation.

And I think some of you think that it's abnormal to feel a lack of motivation. I just want you to know. I hope, you know, that that's why consistency is so hard won. Is that the expression, like you can wear it with a badge of honor when you're consistent because it's a difficult thing to do. It's a difficult thing to become consistent because you're always going to be demotivated from time to time. And the real legends keep doing what they, what they, what they want to do when they're not in the mood or what they know they need to do when they're not in the mood.

And yeah, there might be a little bit of a feeling like you're going through the motions, but that doesn't matter. You can feel like you're going through the motions until you get out of that slump, doing a workout and going through the motions and being really cranky and irritable in your workout is far better than not doing anything at all. Remember that when you don't work out, all that's going to happen is you're going to get stuck back in that stop start cycle and things only get 10 times worse. And what happens is if you stop exercising or taking care of yourself when you're going through a shit time when you get out of that shit time, which we always do, you're going to be potentially overweight, even your clothes are going to be even more tight and you're going to have a mountain to climb after you've gone through your shit time as compared to going through your shit time, continuing with your three workouts a week and then when you get out of your shit time, you'll still be in shape and you'll still be healthy.

Accountability can be really helpful. Um Either with having an amazing online community, like we do shout out to all our legendary members in the group um having an accountability partner, friend, buddy. Um It's, it's just terrific and it's not just terrific listening to my clients. You know, most of you and me too are almost motivated by hearing the struggles. Some of you are, are really honest with the things that you're struggling with. And when people are honest with the things they're struggling with, all that happens is somebody else thinks, oh my God, I'm not alone. It's not just me, she's struggling with that too.

And then you get back on track because you realize you're not as isolated or you don't feel like it's just you and you don't start getting into that spirally negative inner critic that that can sometimes stop you from getting back on track because remember at the start of this episode, it's, it's, it's about getting back on track, being realistic that we're always going to have fallen off track. It's the getting back on track, not staying off track and quitting. So when you hear people talk openly about struggles and, and being off track and having had to drag themselves into a workout. It's just so motivating, especially seeing clients come out the other end and go on to become consistent again and, and, and get back onto their workouts is just absolutely amazing. And when you're a part of a community too, you really understand really intent, like you really get it that there's no straight line and that nobody any time is just perfectly going through life.

And it's really difficult to see that when you're going through the shits, you know, every time I go through a bad period of my life, it always seems to me that everybody is just so happy and I only know that to be untrue when I'm going through a happy time in my life. Isn't it the weirdest thing? Um But yeah, so number seven tracking your progress and celebrating your mind's milestone. So every Friday in our group, we celebrate our wins. We also track our progress every week. We do an end of week review. We do a plan for the week ahead, every single week. We do an end of month review.

We do a month planning for the month ahead. We are planning crazy because it's that tracking the tweaking the reflection and the planning that gets you where you want to go and it helps you spot patterns and it helps you spot habits and things that you mightn't be um focused on that you want to focus on and it can just help you tweak your journey. So you, you're on your journey. The goal is for example, to get fit and feel really good on your clothes and to become peaceful and calm and you're on this journey and you have your action steps and then you do a week and you reflect and say, how did that go? What went well, what do I need to improve on? What am I going to work on for next week?

And then you do another week and, and you just have this lovely reflection planning piece to your whole program that really ties it in together all really, really well and and helps you spot patterns, which is terrific. Also celebrating your milestones is really important because remember that you gain confidence from little wins. So if you've had a shit week, but I say to you, well, come on, what have you done? You're like, well, I drank water and I got fresh air and you're like, oh my God, actually, my week was really shit. But when I think about it, I drank water, I got fresh air. Let's build on that for next week. Let's next week, drink water, get fresh air and do my back to my three workouts again. So you're always focusing on the good and, and having that lovely snowballing momentum effect.

Last couple of things overcoming setbacks. Remember that setbacks are all part of the journey and there's no such thing as perfection. So, self compassion, speaking to yourself kindly and getting back on track, it's not about the being off track. And so many of us think it's, you know, the being off track, it's, that's the thing that we need to be so focused on and we're so hard on ourselves and I can't believe I'm here when actually it's what can I do about this? And how can I get back on track? How can I get back on track? That's all I want to know. I don't want to know why you're off track.

Well, I do when I'm chatting to you, but I mean, I mean, for you, like, you don't need to know the massive detail over the like over the whole week of why you're off track. You need to ask yourself, how are you going to get back on track? So it's that spending 5% of your time on your problems. So knowing what the problem is, why it is, but then you're spending the 95% of the time on your solution. So next up is mindset and self talk. We work on the mindset every single week in our thrive.

Coaching members group working on your mindset is so important. If you've got a negative mindset, a mindset that's stuck in self doubt or fear or all or nothing or perfectionism, all those things need to be worked on in a gentle way. Um So that you can stop doing the things that you do that don't work for you. Um If you're always doing fitness programs with a really negative inner critic, that's going to hold you back. If you're always doing programs with all or nothing or perfectionism tendencies, that's going to hold you back.

So, working on your mindset and working on your self talk and going from a negative mindset to a negative self talk to a positive self talk is really, really so important dear friend. Well, I hope you enjoyed that podcast episode and you got loads out of it. Thanks as always for being here. And if you know somebody who um enjoyed that episode, I would love for you to pass them on this episode. I would be forever grateful. Um My thrive coaching program is full right now, but for details of um a potential up and coming uh launch just a little bit away um or to get on the waitlist and know when there's a spot available. You can go to jessicacooke.ie/coaching

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  • Jessica, I love and relate so much to the content of your podcasts. I have re-listened several times to many episodes, I look forward to Tuesdays and Thursdays!!!!

  • 30/8/23 Brilliant Jessica!!! I can resonate with ALL that you say on this….you really GET US….because you’re speaking fm the heart. Youre so honestly sharing your experiences! Thank you. Xx

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    About the author 

    Jessica Cooke

    I love drinking coffee, and my favourite thing in life (apart from my family) is to help women to get fit and break free from unhealthy habits holding them back. (oh, and also I love playing with my two Miniature Schnauzers, Buster and Ozzy)

    I’ve now supported over 6,779 women over 14 years in my Thrive Coaching Program get fit and break free from unhealthy habits!

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