The 2-Step Solution to Falling Off the Exercise Wagon!

Have you found it difficult to stick to an exercise plan in the past?  Have you…

  • bought a piece of fitness equipment or workout DVD that you’ve barely used?  What about
  • joined a gym and not used the membership enough?
  • promised yourself you’d work out at home only to fall off plan?

You are, by far, NOT ALONE and you are NOT A FAILURE.  You likely had a lot of negative factors working AGAINST your positive efforts and your good intentions simply got outweighed.  So why talk about the past?  Well, because we want the future to be different!


There are all sorts of triggers in our environment that encourage us toward specific behaviors like working out or eating healthy (or not!). These triggers can be subtle (a TV commercial for your favorite snack food) or they could be a lot more obvious (like the vending machine in your office lunchroom that you walk by every darn day).

Either of these cues can have a NEGATIVE influence you, but the good news is that not all cues are negative!  Take for example a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter at home or having your gym bag sitting on the front seat of your car. These cues are POSITIVE and much more likely to remind you of your healthy plans.

What are the exercise cues in your environment? Do they cue you to exercise or not?!

Who hasn’t skipped a morning workout when you’ve woken up do a cold, dreary winter morning?  What about when a really appealing option for your evening comes up on the same night as your booked workout class? These are both NEGATIVE CUES and they’ll push you off the wagon. The problem with these cues is that they are so strongly linked to years of learned behavior, you unconsciously respond without even realizing it!


Take an honest look at your environment and…

  1. IDENTIFY the cues and exercise behaviors you have had a hard time changing in the past
  2. FIX those cues so they support you rather than sabotage you.

Here’s what I mean: 

IDENTIFY:  Do you have exercise equipment at home that you had every intention of using?  Dumb question really, since you wouldn’t have bought it otherwise!  Is it buried under clothes or hiding in the basement?
FIX:  If you own exercise equipment such as a treadmill, bike, don’t keep it hidden.  By having exercise equipment in an enjoyable location, you are more likely to use it regularly.

IDENTIFY:  Are you a workout skipper?  Think about your normal morning and evening routines. Eliminate the things that stall your commitment to exercise.
FIX:  If you hit the snooze button on the alarm clock instead of getting out of bed to exercise, move the clock! Place it in a location in the bedroom where you have to get out of bed to turn it off and have your workout clothes visible!!   Do you find it difficult to keep track of your exercise clothes and shoes? Organize your stuff (including water bottle, iPod, favourite hat) in specific place that’s accessible and consistent.

Replace Negative Cues With Positive Cues – Even MORE ways to stick to your plan!

  • Keep exercise DVDs beside the television (not behind a closed cabinet door)
  • Set phone reminders for booked classes, tennis games with friends, open swim times and anything else that you have as part of your fitness plan
  • Download a fitness app that gives daily workouts, daily tips, or serves as a workout log
  • Order a subscription to a health or fitness magazine – the paper or online version
  • Keep the magazines visible on your bedside table or coffee table as a source of motivation
  • Pack your gym bag and leave it by the bed as a reminder to exercise first thing in the morning
  • Wear your gym clothes to bed to immediately cue your morning workout!
  • Put your gym stuff at the door or in the car if you’re exercising after work
  • Hang an exercise calendar or food journal in a visible location and check each day that you exercised and ate well – a really powerful reminder to keep you going!

Remember this:  To keep on track and NOT fall back into old habits, just remember to identify your obstacles and remove or replace them to keep you on the great track you’ve started!

Day 10/21 Exercise Challenge:  If something comes up today that would normally result in a skipped workout, BEAT IT DOWN.  Log your 10 MINUTES doing anything you choose – any activity at all counts today.  The point is that you aren’t going to allow anything to get in your way!