Healthy Mind

Healthy Mind - Male

Progressive muscle relaxation

This relaxation technique, focuses on slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle group.This helps you focus on the difference between muscle tension and relaxation. You become more aware of physical sensations. If you have any pain or discomfort at any of the targeted muscle groups feel free to omit that step. Begin by finding a comfortable position either sitting or lying down in a location where you will not be interrupted. Allow your attention to focus only on your body. If you begin to notice your mind wandering, bring it back to the muscle you are working on. Take a deep breath through your abdomen, hold for a few second, and exhale slowly. Feel your body already relaxing. As you go through each step, remember to keep breathing. Now let’s begin.

Tighten the muscles in your forehead by raising your eyebrows as high as you can. Hold for about five seconds. And abruptly release feeling that tension fall away.Pause for about 10 seconds. Now smile widely, feeling your mouth and cheeks tense. Hold for about 5 seconds, and release, appreciating the softness in your face. Pause for about 10 seconds. Next, tighten your eye muscles by squinting your eyelids tightly shut. Hold for about 5 seconds, and release. Pause for about 10 seconds. Gently pull your head back as if to look at the ceiling. Hold for about 5 seconds, and release,feeling the tension melting away. Pause for about 10 seconds. Now feel the weight of your relaxed head and neck sink.

Breath in...and out. In...and out. Let go of all the stress In...and out.

Now, tightly, but without straining, clench your fists and hold this position until I say stop. Hold for about 5 seconds, and release. Pause for about 10 seconds.Now, flex your biceps. Feel that build up of tension. You may even visualize that muscle tightening. Hold for about 5 seconds, and release, enjoying that feeling of limpness. Breath in...and out. Now tighten your triceps by extending your arms out and locking your elbows. Hold for about 5 seconds, and release. Pause for about 10 seconds. Now lift your shoulders up as if they could touch your ears. Hold for about 5 seconds, and quickly release, feeling their heaviness. Pause for about 10 seconds. Tense your upper back by pulling your shoulders back trying to make your shoulder blades touch. Hold for about 5 seconds, and release. Pause for about 10 seconds. Tighten your chest by taking a deep breath in, hold for about 5 seconds, and exhale, blowing out all the tension. Now tighten the muscles in your stomach by sucking in. Hold for about 5 seconds, and release. Pause for about 10 seconds. Gently arch your lower back. Hold for about 5 seconds, relax. Pause for about 10 seconds. Feel the limpness in your upper body letting go of the tension and stress, hold for about 5 seconds, and relax. Tighten your buttocks. Hold for about 5 seconds, release. Imagine your hips falling loose. Pause for about 10 seconds. Tighten your thighs by pressing your knees together, as if you were holding a penny between them. Hold for about 5 seconds...and release. Pause for about 10 seconds Now flex your feet, pulling your toes towards you and feeling the tension in your calves. Hold for about 5 seconds, and relax, feel the weight of your legs sinking down. Pause for about 10 seconds. Curl your toes under tensing your feet. Hold for about 5 seconds, release. Pause for about 10 seconds

Now imagine a wave of relaxation slowly spreading through your body beginning at your head and going all the way down to your feet. Feel the weight of your relaxed body. Breathe in...and out...in...out....in...out.

Too busy Trap

“Your life is full of other responsibilities and there is no room for exercise”

Peter is a father of 3 children: Alex 7, Laura 14 and Matt 4. He has a busy schedule, he works long hours and he has been renovating his house for a while. When he comes from work he feels exhausted, but kids are very excited to see him and he doesn`t have much time to relax.

Recently, he had an appointment with GP and his latest blood results concerned his doctor. He needs to change his diet and start to exercise.

What can he do?

In this case we need to find time by looking at his schedule and see a things which he does on a regular basis that are desirable but not essential. By setting his alarm off half an hour earlier he could leave his apartment for a 30 minute workout. Some of the cleaning stuff he could delegate to his children. He does not need to renovate the apartment every night. It will be more beneficial for his health to have a day off and relax, go for a walk or jog. He can also encourage the family to weekends` walks together, then he could exercise and spend some time together.

He needs to find a way to make exercising a priority, or it will never happened in the context of his busy life.

Something needs to change.

If you want to be able to exercise, you have to fit the rest of your life around being active, rather than trying to fit to not try to fit it into an already packed day

Consider your situation, your daily schedule. Look for tasks you are doing that you could, at least temporarily:

Cut back (Download a podcast with the news so you can listen to them on the way to work limit your time browsing some stuff,news on Internet, limit your social media activity)

Do less well (Do you need to spend that much time cleaning your car, is that that crucial?)

Ask for a help (Sometimes you are too busy and overwhelmed to step back and think who could help you. Think about your family, friends, your neighbours, your kids` friends` parents, your co-workers. People are often happy, or at least willing to help, but if you don`t ask, you won`t receive a “helpful hand”)

Encourage partner/kids to help you with responsibilities around the house (lawn mowing, taing a dog for a walk, etc.)

Combine tasks (Can you do some activity while you are at the park with children or while you are taking your dog for a walk?)

You will need to cut some stuff out to make room for exercise in your life.

Health is an important priority for you and for your family!

Ask yourself, who can help me get things done? Sometimes you are too busy and overwhelmed to step back and think who could help you. Think about your family, friends, your neighbours, your children’s  friends` parents, your co-workers. People are often happy, or at least willing to help, but if you don`t ask, you won`t receive a “helpful hand”.

Unreasonably Strict exercise plan

“Your exercise plan is too hard to follow”

How often were you saying “I`m starting next Monday. I`ll sign up for the gym, boxing class,  I will jog or walk every day “.

Then you tried once, or twice and by the end of the week you have realized that you did not follow your plan. You had to stay longer at work, you went out on Thursday night, you watched rugby on Saturday and missed a couple of sessions.

What is the outcome? You realized that you didn`t have time this week and you will start it next week or month, when you will have more time.

This is the danger of creating an unreasonably strict exercise plan. You have created a plan which is hard to follow. After missing one exercise session you decide that the entire week is gone so you don`t need to exercise anymore, you can start next week instead.

Solution. Don`t create a plan which you can not follow.

A plan that is too difficult to follow can give rise to sabotaging thoughts: “It’s too hard. I won`t workout today I will get back on track next week.” But if you develop a new plan that includes different environment and back up plans you may not give up. Remember always have a plan B. Even if you won`t workout that much as usual it is still a workout, you will keep your form and your active routine. This is a better solution than to create an unrealistic plan and eventually throw out the window everything which you accomplish so far.

Don`t wait, record your plan right now.

Self-criticizer trap

“You beating yourself up when you make a mistake”

Mark is the owner of a small pluming company. He really enjoys his work and his clients value him for his good service, professional opinion and sense of humour. Beyond his work he spends a lot of time on his motorbike. He found a good balance between his work and his hobby. Unfortunately for the past 10 years he has been gaining weight. He has tried many times to establish an exercise routine, but continually fails. He really feels frustrated that he can not control this part of his life. Very often he beats himself up by saying: “I`m so well disciplined about my work but when it comes to exercise I am just hopeless. I hate myself for that”. This list of Mark`s self criticism is very long…

How to escape this trap? How not to beat yourself up?

Self-criticism plays no beneficial role when you’re trying to stay active. It just leads to discouragement and undermines your confidence. And self-criticism is usually unwarranted, the result of unreasonable standard.

Think about being active as a new skill is like you have to learn how to drive again. It is a process of learning. You will make mistakes at the beginning, but  it is a part of the learning process. You have to keep your expectations on the reasonable level and keep practising new skill. Stop your negative thinking about yourself. Say “STOP” loud! “I will be better and better at it, beating myself up only lowers my mood and my motivation to change.”

Consider this: When you were learning a new sport, did you make mistakes? Where would you be if you beat yourself up every time you did?

Remember it’s not a question of if you’ll make a mistake, it’s when.

Accept your imperfections and move on. Turn your attention to something else.

Make a list of the foundation strategies you’ve still practiced, even when you feel like it’s been a bad week. Pay particular attention to giving yourself credit for the things, which you have done correctly.

The Lack of Support Barrier

You have unsupportive family member/friend who makes negative comments.

Allan committed to change his lifestyle. He wants to be active and get back into shape like he was in college. He had a knee operation and since then he hasn`t been exercising much, he gained 25 kg. Very often his co-workers are making fun of him, they call him “Big Al”. Recently Allan mentioned to one of his colleagues that he is planning to run again and wants to lose some excess weight. The day after he heard his colleagues making jokes in a staff kitchen about him and his master plan for finding a wife. Allan hates those comments; he knows that in a second his mood and confidence disappears. Afterwards he feels mad at himself and humiliated in front of males and females in his office.

How Allan can change his situation?

The criticizer can vary from well meaning but misguided to downright cruel, with many shades in between. Start with these suggestions. Whether or not you can stop offensive comments, you can certainly change your reaction to them.

Allan could directly ask his co-worker not to make comments. For example, he could say, “Time will tell if my master plan works, but in the meantime, please don’t make any more comments about this.”

How you can cope with a criticizing friend, co-worker or a family member?

Directly ask your family member/friend/co-worker not to make comments. For example, if they’re sceptical about whether you’ll succeed this time, you could say, “We will see what is going to happen, but in the meantime, please don’t make any more comments about this.”

Create a visual image so you can “put on your bulletproof jacket on ” and have critical comments stop and stay in the jacket before they harm you.

When colleagues/family members say things that undermine your confidence in being able to exercise, remind yourself, “This time is different—I’m learning skills I never had before.”

If the family members making unhelpful comments are not mean spirited, remind yourself that they may actually believe they are being helpful. They may not be intentionally trying to anger or demoralize you. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should accept their unhelpful remarks without saying anything.

Remember, you are in charge of your reaction. You can choose to let what others say throw you off track and interfere with your goal of being more active—or you can decide not to let the comments get in the way and continue following your plan.

The When Things Calm Down Barrier

You think it will be too difficult to work on your active lifestyle during a stressful time.

Matt has been going through rough times recently, which caused a lot of stress in his life. Last year his wife passed away so he is a single parent of two kids. Shortly before his wife passed away they took out a mortgage on a new house and he is struggling to pay it back. On top of that his doctor informed him that he suffers from type two diabetes and he needs to take care of his health. He knows that he has to be more active but he deals with a lot of stress right now and he decided to push exercise back to when things calm down.

What could Matt do about his health?

Matt may think that right now it is impossible to be disciplined about working out.  The truth is that stress is a part of the life. He needs to be prepared for that. Now he has to prioritise his health, as he is the only parent for his kids.

Matt created Advantage Cards of being active. He committed to do running sessions in the park near by. He asked his kids to join him 3 times per week. At the beginning it was hard to find time for it but after he realized that his health should be his top priority, he rearranged his schedule. He has been reading his Advantage Cards daily. He feels better after a workout, and has more energy to deal with day-to-day problems. He realized that exercise made him more disciplined and he has been managing his time better.

Stress is part of life; there’s no chance you’re going to be completely rid of it, so you need to learn how to manage it. Look for ways to decrease your stress level and increase your self-care. Tune in to your stress and lack of activity. Does it truly help you manage stress, or does it make things worse? Then create an escape plan for each difficult situation you identify.

When you’re going through a stressful time, take extra care to read your Advantage Cards often—even several times a day—to help you remember that getting off track with your exercise program will make you more stressed, not less. (You don’t need the additional stress of feeling guilty about something you did not do!) Staying on track will help you feel more in control of your ability to keep it going and more in control in general, which will make you feel less stressed overall.

Jumping to Conclusions

You tend to jump to unjustified conclusions.

You might make quick assumptions about how things are and what they’re going to be like in the future (predictive thinking), or you assume that you know what someone else is thinking (mind reading). These conclusions and assumptions are not based on facts or evidence, but rather based on your feelings and personal opinions. As such they can often lead you down the wrong path.

Imagine that you are on your way to meet up with some mates  to do a work out in the local park. You might think,

“I will be the most unfit person there, I may not be good enough”.

This is a very common way to increase anxiety and stress. Jumping to the conclusion that “I`ll be the most unfit person in the group” without thinking about other possibilities, such as the fact that your mates decided to work out because they also realised that they haven`t been active for ages, might change your mood and undermine your confidence. Sometimes we jump to conclusions because we think poorly about ourselves (“I`m unfit”, “I`m not good enough”).

Change your unhelpful thoughts by using the following example:

“I will be the most unfit person there and I’ll slow everyone else down”

  1. Awareness of this unhelpful thinking style

“Ok, I feel like I `m jumping to conclusions too fast right now”

2. Self-analysis questions

  • “In what specific situations do I jump to these sorts of conclusions?”
  • “What evidence and facts do I tend to often overlook?”
  • ‘Why do I think this way?’

3. Challenge your negative thought

  • “What evidence do I have that supports this assumption?”
  • “How many times have I made incorrect assumptions?”
  • “What if things are the way I imagine them? Why should this bother me?”

4. Replace your unhelpful thought!

“It doesn’t matter if I’m not in great shape. I`m going to improve my fitness  slowly and not give up.

Overgeneralisation

You might reference your past in order to make assumptions about the present (e.g. NOTHING good EVER happens). You might see a pattern based upon a single event, or be overly broad in the conclusions you draw. For instance, you might recall one particular incident in your past and, as a result, you end up making the following statement:

‘NOTHING EVER works out for me. I NEVER have any luck’

An example from your personal life could be:

She NEVER tells me what she thinks and she ALWAYS expects me to know’

Now imagine that you are in the Dixon Park. It is very busy day and a lot of people came to relax and enjoy the nice weather.You are in the middle of your work out but suddenly you`re thinking:

“EVERYONE is staring at me, I ALWAYS have a problem- working out in the park”

Whenever you use the words, ‘I never… People never…  She always… He always… Everyone… You never…” you are overgeneralizing.

If you tend to use these words too often you may feel frustrated, discouraged, depressed, or annoyed, amongst other things. To change this unhelpful thinking for more adaptive and positive thinking, it’s important that you get out of the habit of building your future around isolated negative events or instances from your past.

Avoid using words such as “always” and “never”

Change your unhelpful thought by using the following example:

EVERYONE is staring at me, I will NEVER improve my fitness.”

  1. Awareness of this unhelpful thinking style
    “Wait, maybe I`m overgeneralising this situation”

2. Self-analysis questions

  • “How do I tend to overgeneralize things?”
  • “When do I tend to do this?”

3. Challenge your negative thoughts

  • “Am I being realistic when I’m overgeneralizing things?”
  • “What evidence do I have that suggests things will always be this way?”
  1. Replace your unhelpful thought!

‘"It is very busy today. People seem to be interested in my strength training. Lots of people go walking at the beach, but not many do resistance training while they are outside. It makes me feel good knowing that I am following evidence-based health guidelines. Maybe I will inspire someone today…That`s great!’"

Magnification and Minimization (discounting positives)

This is an unhelpful thinking style where you tend to magnify the positive attributes of a situation or another person, while at the same you minimise your own positive attributes.

Think of times in your own life where you might have experienced the following thoughts, situations:

“They don`t really mean it, they were just being polite ”

You’re devaluing yourself each time you are using this unhelpful thinking style. You can very easily explain everything, without taking your positive traits, characteristics, and achievements into account.

Consider this:

Example 1

“Oh, I wouldn’t be able to do an Islington Park Challenge in 45 minutes once again. I just got lucky…”

Example 2:

“You are in the park and your are thinking : Exercising comes easy to these guys. I`m getting tired too fast. I`m just not good at it- this is not for me

It statements are certainly not beneficial for your motivation and your enjoyment of exercising outdoors. Disqualifying your own achievement is not healthy and can significantly affect your self-esteem and how you feel about exercise

Change your unhelpful thoughts by using the following example:

  1. Awareness of this unhelpful thinking style

‘Ok, I feel like I `m discounting my input in here

  1. Self-analysis questions
  • How do I tend to magnify the positive attributes and experiences of other people?
  • How do I tend to minimize my own positive attributes and experiences?
  • How do I twist my own positive attributes and experiences in a negative way?
  1. Challenge your negative thoughts
  • What if I deserved the results I attained? What evidence is there that proves this is true?
  • What if I deserved to be complimented? What evidence is there that proves this is true?
  • What if it wasn’t luck but rather a combination of planning, consistency, determination and experience? Where is the evidence for this?
  1. Replace your unhelpful thought!

Example 1

Oh, I was able to do an Islington Park Challenge in 45 minutes! I did not expect that. My fitness has improved, I deserve a lot of credit for that! I `m doing a really good job!”

Example 2

“These guys are running for months or years. Nothing comes easy; it seems like they put a lot of work in. But everybody starts somewhere! I`ll also improve in a few weeks, plus my Challenge includes running and strength training, this is even more beneficial than running!  I just have to stick to me new routine and enjoy this time outside. Spring has come; it will be easier to leave home for a Challenge “

Emotional Reasoning

This is an unhelpful thinking style were you base your view of a particular situation, yourself or others on the way you’re feeling. Therefore your feelings may dictate how you perceive a situation despite evidence to the contrary. As such you might choose to feel bad about something that is going to happen just because you are feeling miserable in the moment. You are therefore using your current emotional state as a barometer that directs how you will view your life and circumstances.

“Client meetings and too many things to do and not enough time to do them. ! There’s no way I will feel like doing a Challenge in the afternoon…Ehh, I`m not doing it today!”

You may automatically tend to believe that what you’re feeling is the truth.  As the result this may determine how you perceive a situation, what decisions you make regarding your exercise routine. Try not to allow your emotions to dictate change of your exercise plans. You made them because they are important to you.

Change your unhelpful thoughts by using the following example:

“Client meetings and too many things to do and not enough time to do them. ! There’s no way I will feel like doing a Challenge in the afternoon…Ehh, I`m not doing it today!”

  1. Awareness of this unhelpful thinking style

”Am I making my decision based upon my current mood? I think this could be an example of the emotional reasoning”

  1. Self-analysis questions
  • How do I tend to make decisions based on my emotions and feelings?
  • How do I tend to make judgments using emotional reasoning?
  • How does thinking this way make me feel?
  1. Challenge your negative thoughts
  • Am I basing my interpretation of this experience on my emotions or on the facts of the situation?
  • What evidence suggests that the way I’m thinking about this is not accurate?
  • How accurate is it to use emotional reasoning to predict the future? When have I been right? When have I been wrong?
  1. Replace your unhelpful thought!

“Just because I feel overwhelmed right now, doesn’t necessary mean that my Maitland Challenge will be bad too. Exercise will probably make me feel better and afterwards I`ll be proud that I didn`t give up.

The way I feel right now is just a reaction to my current ‘to do list’, and the client who is far from my favourite. A Workout in the park will get my endorphins flowing after a tough day in the office”

eCoFit Response Cards

These cards will help keep you on track in difficult situations. Prepare yourself for future barriers - don`t wait for them to occur and ruin your exercise routine.

eCoFit Response Cards:

  • Keep you motivated
  • Prepare you for hard times
  • Help you in healthy decision making
  • Help you in creating a new habit

How to make eCoFit Response Cards

Every morning, look at the day ahead. Ask yourself:

  • “What potential barriers) will I encounter which may stop me from doing my Challenge today?”
  • “What sabotaging thoughts might go through my head that could stop me from doing my eCoFit Challenge?”
  • “What do I want to be able to tell myself in those situations?”

Whenever you regret something you’ve done, ask yourself:

  • “What excuse/reason did I give myself not to exercise today?”
  • “How can I prepare myself for the same sabotaging thought in the future? What can I say to myself then?”

Create your eCoFit Response Card:

  1. Identify your barriers
  2. Create solutions
  3. Write both the barriers and the solutions on a card or on your phone
  4. Read your response cards at least once per day each morning
  5. Be prepared for the future!

Write your responses on your eCofit Response Cards or use a note-taking program or app on your smartphone. If you have difficulty composing a compelling response, don’t worry. Take a look at the example below:

When I get home after a hard day at work I won`t sit down on the couch I`ll take my workout clothes which I prepared yesterday, and  get changed and leave the house immediately (even if I don`t feel like doing a Challenge and I would rather relax). Exercise will help me get rid of the stress which I had during this tough day at work. Sitting on the couch makes me feel sleepy and guilty.”

eCoFit Tips:

  • Read your response cards every morning
  • Read them just before you enter a difficult situation which can stop you from doing your exercise (e.g., going away for a weekend, planning to do the eCoFit session before going out for a dinner etc.)
  • Develop your self-discipline to read them daily (set a reminder on your phone, put sticky notes on your fridge, keep them in your purse, wallet, etc.)
  • Do not follow your sabotaging thoughts such as “It’s okay if I don’t read my eCoFit response cards . . . I’m too busy. I don’t really need them. I don’t feel like doing them.”

The Discouragement Trap

You want to give up when exercising becomes difficult.

Almost anyone who has tried to change unhealthy habits has struggled with psychological “traps” like feeling deprived, discouraged, or unmotivated. Even physically active people struggle at some point with motivation to keep going, to start again after a break, or to find time to get their activity

Some people are perceived as ‘successful in being active’. Some could say that for these people, being active is ‘easy’, or it is their ‘second nature’. The truth is that these people have developed certain skills, behaviours, and techniques, which help them, stay on track. Feeling deprived, discouraged, and unmotivated are normal, and fade much faster if we are prepared for them.

Being prepared for the future and planning ahead is the key to helping us overcome difficult times.

Escape the Discouragement Trap

If you tried to accomplish three eCoFit Challenges per week and you failed, you might recall these negative memories over and over again. You might have the sabotaging though: “eCoFit is not for me, I can not keep going like the others.”

The reality is that you may have overestimated how much of the week was difficult. Maybe something significant happened in your life. Maybe you weren’t adequately prepared, or maybe you did not commit to a particular day and time.

You may believe that you shouldn’t experience difficult times, when in actuality, it is normal for people who are trying to be physically active struggle from time to time. This thought can give rise to the unhelpful idea that you can’t keep it up and that the others are doing better than you. So when you feel discouraged, consider doing the following…

Take out your advantages list for getting physical activity.

How important is each item to you? Write down “very important”, “important”, or “not important” next to each one.

If you write “not important” next to any advantage, consider taking it off your list so that you can focus on the reasons that are most meaningful to you. If you need shots of motivation during the day, read the list frequently.

Think about previous attempts at exercising. What have you learned since then?

Remember that if you keep practicing the foundation strategies, in two months from now you’ll be in a better place than you are at the moment.

Write down your eCoFit Response Cards!
An example of a response card for the next time when you feel discouraged:

If I start to worry that I won’t be able to keep going, I need to remember that things are very different this time:

  • I’ve learned how to stay active in a way that I can maintain for the long term.
  • I’ve learned how to plan, and how to get myself to stay on track.
  • I’ve learned how to deal with my sabotaging thoughts,
  • I’ve made my giving-up muscle MUCH weaker and my turning-up muscle MUCH stronger.

Holiday Trap

“You find it hard to exercise during holidays”

Everybody looks forward to going on holidays so that they can forget about work and focus on pleasure.

Holidays seem to be perfect time to give up your routine, especially a healthy routine.

“I am on holidays so I don`t need to stick to my exercise routine. I will do what I want – I can have beers, tasty food and I can relax. Yes, this is what I need.”

We often think that during this time we can do whatever we feel like because “we`re on holidays”. For some people going back to unhealthy habits like overeating food and desserts (which we are normally trying to avoid) and being inactive seems to be the obvious thing to do.

The consequence of this mindset and action is that it reinforces the “giving up” muscle, which you are trying so hard to weaken. Each time you are active, you are strengthening a “good turning-up muscle”. Our goal is not to go back to the same inactive routine.

Staying in control of being active does not necessary means that there is no room for your favourite meal and lying down on the beach. The key to success is “to do something”.

“Something it`s always better than nothing”.

Incorporating some physical activity during your holidays, even if it’s just a 20-minute walk and a handful of push-up, will help you stay on track.

How to stay in control and keep the healthy routine going:

Strategy 1. Focus on the positive benefits of sticking to your plan. Write these down on your index cards or on your phone.

Strategy 2. Make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of staying in control and exercising during your holidays.

Take a look at the example below:

Advantages of not exercising:

  • Do not have to plan when to exercise
  • Do not have to pack extra clothes
  • Will not feel sore after the workout
  • Won`t need to sacrifice free time for exercise

Disadvantages of not exercising:

  • Loss of control
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of fitness
  • Undo my progress and my goal to feel stronger
  • Poor role model for kids, less energy to play with them
  • Feelings of guilt due to lack of activity
  • Lack of the positive emotions that were making me feel better about myself and were building my confidence
  • Worry about whether I’ll be able to get back to my exercise when I get home
  • Reduce daily stress

Now consider what is more important for you.

Strategy 3. Consider that uncontrolled eating and inactivity doesn`t always feel great. Can you recall these moments when you felt sluggish, bloated and tired?

Now think about:

  • How do you normally feel when you complete your Challenge?
  • Do you feel that you have accomplished something?
  • Do you feel proud that you are working towards your goal?
  • Do you enjoy being outdoors and taking advantage of this beautiful weather?
  • How does it feel to balance relaxation in the park and activity?

Try to focus on these benefits and evaluate the situation.

Ask yourself: Is it really worth it to not do anything at all?

Keep your “turning up” muscle going!

The “I’ve Failed” Trap

You tell yourself you will get back on track tomorrow

“I’ve blown it for the day. I was too tired after an exhausting day at work. I might as well not exercise for the rest of the week and start fresh from Monday”

What’s interesting about this kind of “I’ve failed” thought is that, in almost no other area of life do we think in this illogical way (i.e., we don’t typically compound one mistake with another).

Consider these “wrong analogies” and notice how irrational they sound.

Situation 1: Let’s say you were driving your car and you notice that your engine does not work properly. You notice steam coming from the bonnet. Would you think, “I’ve really blown it now!” and drive another 100km risking to blow the entire engine completely?

Situation 2: Imagine you transfer your money to the wrong account. Would you think, “Well, I’ve blown it now” and send more money to the same wrong account number?

Of course not! You would immediately change what you were doing to avoid further negative consequences. You would immediately change what you were doing to avoid further negative consequences, like stopping your car, or calling your bank to report your error immediately.

Think about your mistakes related with physical activity this way, and then you will be able to see how illogical your actions are.

Create a reminder card about that:

"When I make an exercise mistake, I must remember that it makes no sense to keep making more. Just as I would never consider continuing driving with a broken engine and risking my life, I shouldn’t consider being inactive for the rest of the day or even week if I just missed one session. Getting back on track at any point puts me in a better position than if I wait even one moment longer".

When you learn to stop yourself after your first missed session, you put yourself in a better position than if you would miss two. Also, stopping yourself after two days is better than three, and so on.

You can work hard to prevent mistakes, but you can’t eliminate them altogether. Mistakes happen. They’re part of life—and they are certainly part of changing your lifestyle. Once you make a mistake, you can either blame yourself and focus on this negativity, or you can learn from your mistake to avoid making the same one in the future.

This technique below can help you in finding the problem and solution.

Whenever you make a mistake, take a few moments and ask yourself:

  • What was the situation?
  • What happened?
  • What sabotaging thoughts did I have?

Create your reminder card about this problem and solution for it.

“No Willpower” Barrier

“You believe you can’t maintain exercise”

You might have those days when you`re saying to yourself, “I have no willpower today. I feel weak. I won`t exercise today.”

Does this sound familiar?

Sometimes we have tough days when we feel overwhelmed and under the control of our sabotaging thoughts which tell us not to be active. Are those days and situations truly unmanageable? Exercise is not an automatic behaviour; that means it requires motivation to start but we also can influence what we do and when. This also creates an opportunity to exert willpower in any situation, even a difficult one.

Be prepared and have a plan - that will increase the likelihood you’ll be able to exert willpower in even the most difficult situations

How to avoid the “no willpower” barrier:

Strategy 1: Filter your thoughts

Pay attention to what you’re saying to yourself. Are you trying to motivate yourself by saying, “It is hard today but I will do it anyway. Completing a challenge will make me feel better” or do you instead tell yourself, “Today`s Challenge is impossible” or “I have no willpower to complete a Challenge today”. You have to remind yourself that these phrases just provide an excuse for not getting your physical activity.

Strategy 2: Hard vs. Truly impossible

Step 1: Keep in mind the difference between things that are hard and things that are truly impossible.

Step 2: Make a list of the hard things you’ve done in your life

An example:

  • Get a degree while I was working full-time
  • Work toward a promotion
  • Find good work-life balance
  • Take care of my family

Now consider! All those achievements took sustained effort and determination.

They were hard, but you did them!

Step 3. Next make a list of difficult exercising experiences in which you stayed in control.

Remember that even though it’s hard, you can exert willpower and resist—and when you do, you won’t regret it once the tempting situation has passed.

Write a reminder card!

An example for “no will power”/” it is too hard”:

There is a difference between things that are hard and things that are impossible. Just because it feels really hard to do a Challenge today it doesn’t mean I can’t. I have done many other hard things in my life that were harder to achieve than going for a walk/run in the park. I can do it!

"I Don’t Care" Barrier

Momentary feelings of apathy undermine your motivation.

The temptation of being inactive can be powerful. Sometimes we just don’t feel like investing the energy to stay on track. In those situations, we tend to pretend to ourselves that we “don’t care” about the consequences of not exercising. But obviously we really do care.

Think about all the times when you decided to follow this internal voice saying, “I don`t care today”.

How did you feel after the fact? Were you disappointed or discouraged? Did you ask yourself, “How could I have done this? I really didn`t want this to happen!”

How do you feel now looking back at those situations?

You need to remember that the “I don`t care” feeling always passes. This feeling comes very often when we have a more instant and pleasurable alternative for exercising, like meeting up with your mates or watching the footy in the evening. In those situations it is easy to say, “I don`t care about the Challenge today” because you have this tempting alternative.

Now imagine you intend to reduce your alcohol consumption. The week after you committed not to drink too much, your friend invited you to his promotion party. Before the party, you said to yourself that you`ll stick to one beer, but a few hours later you find yourself having a fourth drink. Does this mean that you don`t want to drink less anymore? No. You just followed the “internal voice” which told you, “I don`t care about my intention now”. This voice was louder than your goal of drinking less alcohol. The truth is your goal has not changed, you just faced a challenging situation and you were not prepared for it.

This happens often, especially when we are trying to implement a new behaviour like physical activity. The benefits of being with mates and/or watching a game together come instantly - we feel relaxed and pleased - whereas the full benefits of exercise can only be observed after days, weeks, months or years of being active. We are get some pleasure after completing exercise, but the difficult part is to start doing it and to keep going no matter what. The “delayed-benefit” nature of physical activity is often challenged by other “instant-benefit” behaviours like meeting in a pub, seeing a good movie or an important sports event. We have to realise this threat.

How to avoid “I don`t care” barrier?

Step 1: Keep in mind that the “I don`t care” feeling always passes, but the reasons you want to be more healthy and active will not stop feeling important.

Step 2: You need to learn how to recognize situations in which you might think that you don’t care in that moment. However, it’s not true that you won’t care later on.

But also question whether or not you actually “don’t care” at any given moment.

Write a reminder card!

Examples:

The next time I think, “I’m not going to do a Challenge today because I don’t care,” I need to remind myself that while it’s true that I may not care right in that moment, I absolutely will care later on—so I can’t let this one moment of not caring override my actions of being strong and healthy.

Even when I tell myself I don’t care about being active, I really do. There’s never a time when I wouldn’t choose to be strong healthy and feel proud of myself over anything I was about to do.

What is self-talk?

Self-talk (also referred to inner dialogue or inner voice) is described as something ‘that people say to themselves out loud, or it can be defined as a small voice in their own heads’. By using self-talk you`re providing opinions and evaluations on what you’re doing as you're doing it. Self-talk expresses emotions, impressions, biases, and associations in all kinds of situations.

Self-talk has been used by coaches and athletes as one of the most widely used and effective strategies for improving sport performance. Negative self-talk is associated with poor performance, whereas positive self-talk is associated with better performance. Research shows that successful athletes use positive self-talk more often in comparison to less successful athletes.

Self-talk is an important strategy, which can be used as part of our mental exercise. This strategy will help you to strengthen your “turning up muscle”. Self-talk is not only beneficial for professional athletes, everybody can benefit from it. We can and should use “self-talk” to help us achieve our own goals and to stay physically active.

Consider what happens after you’ve done something embarrassing. Does your inner voice say, “that was stupid!”?

How about if you haven't even done anything wrong or stupid at all, but your inner voice is just as critical?

This destructive type of self-talk limits you and brings you down. Try to replace negative self-talk with positive inner talk.

Self-talk examples

Positive self-talk strategies to cope with pain and to keep you motivated:

  • “Hey, I’m trained for this. I’ve prepared myself. I can get through this. It will get easier soon. Everybody else is suffering too. If I’m suffering, everybody else must be suffering worse”’
  • “Pain is weakness leaving the body”
  • “Fear is what stops you... courage is what keeps you going”
  • “Don`t think, just do it!”
  • “I can show myself and my husband that I can!"
  • “My breathing is controlled"
  • “I can do it!”, “I am a strong runner,”
  • “Get to the next kilometer marker,”
  • “Forget about the word ‘can`t’ ”
  • “This isn’t that hard,”
  • “Stride, stride, abide, abide,”
  • “It's never too late to become what you might have been”

The more you work on improving your self-talk the better you will get.

How to implement self-talk in your life?

  1. Find a positive quote, “your mantra” which will be used in various situations related to physical activity. You can use this to motivate yourself before the Challenge or while you `re exercising to keep going!

An example would be: “Mark you must find a way to organize the day better, reschedule some meetings before or after the workout and dedicate time for yourself. You need to have it to manage the stress and enjoy your life better. This will help you in being a better father, husband and co-worker. You really want to fit the Challenge into your schedule, just find a way to do it!”, or “Is this the best I can do? Let`s go!”, “I feel good”, or “I really made a progress since I have started the program, I managed to include some workouts over the past 18 weeks. This is something! Even a walk in the park is better than sitting at home in front of TV. I`m definitely making the progress in comparison to other mates who haven`t started exercise more. I want to be the best I can be”

(You can use the first form “I” or “you” to talk about yourself in your inner-talk”)

  1. Work on ways of building your self-confidence and use positive self-talk daily
  2. Start questioning your negative self-talk by noticing what you’re saying about yourself.
  3. If you recognize that you need to change you negative self-talk say: “STOP” to yourself. You can also include a physical action to help you like clicking your fingers. Replace the native self-talk for your positive mantra.
  4. Don`t be ashamed and say it loud J
  5. Keep using it!

What is mental imagery?

Mental imagery can be defined as using all five of 5 senses to re-create an experience you have had or to actually create an experience you desire to have. We imagine things all the time. Daydreaming is a kind of mental imagery. Recalling a fond memory is another form of mental imagery. In addition, imagery may involve ‘seeing yourself ’ as you want to be, doing some activity or performing a skill you hope to achieve for example a healthier or fitter you.

You can use mental imaginary to :

  • Motivate yourself by recalling your goals and targets
  • Picture yourself completing a eCoFit challenge in difficult circumstances (e.g., when the weather is bad, or you are tired).
  • Reduce negative thoughts by focusing on positive outcomes
  • Refocus when the need arises due to your work or life stressors
  • See success when you see yourself performing your exercises correctly and on scheduled days which you planned

Why it is important

Mental imagery can be useful in many ways, it will help you in:

  • Developing your self-confidence
  • Staying on track
  • Developing and reinforcing strategies to cope with exercise barriers
  • Concentrating on your goals
  • Reducing stress and tension
  • Establishing a physical and mental state for exercise

How to implement your own eCoFit imagery task:

Step 1. Decide on the end goal first. Be realistic and descriptive. Your goal could be: “To complete 3 sessions of eCoFit challenge per week”.

Step 2. Recall past experiences. Image an occasion in the past when you were found exercise really enjoyable or really energizing.

Recreate this past scene in your mind as vividly as possible to experience again in the present the sensations you associated with that time.

Step 3. Use multi-sensory imagery (seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting, as well as the feeling of moving).

Now see yourself successfully leaving your house to do Dixon ParkFit Challenge. Imagine the place of your workout. You are outside near the lifeguard start line, take a deep breath and look at the beautiful ocean view, you can hear waves gently crashing on the shoreline, the weather is perfect today. Take another deep breath and smell the fresh, salted air. Now breath out slowly, you feel wonderful today and you are ready to start your Challenge. Feel your body getting lighter and allow yourself to feel pride, joy, and a sense of accomplishment as you getting fitter each time when you are leaving your house for a Challenge. Imagine coping with a vigorous activity and that you are monitoring the proper technique of your Challenges.  See yourself overcoming exercise barriers. Feel the pleasure of exercising outdoors, feel the fresh air coming to your lungs. Use all of your senses to feel this moment.

Imagine, taste, hear, feel, smell and see this moment in your head.

Step 4. Use affirming, success-oriented language that is grounded in the present moment rather than in the future. So “I am happy and I enjoy exercise,” rather than “I will be happy….”

Step 5. Focus on the positive observable changes like completing a longer run, becoming stronger and lighter and healthier

Step 6. Focus on positive inner changes like being confident, feeling more satisfied with choosing exercise after work, noticing what it is like to be a person who is in a healthy body.

Spending between 3 and 5 minutes on imagery seems to be most effective. Try to implement this technique daily.

We all experience emotions. Emotions are an important part of being human, and are essential to our survival. We are designed to feel a whole range of emotions, some of which may be comfortable to us, and others which may be uncomfortable. Emotions drive and maintain our behavior but sometimes they also stop us from doing what we planned.

That is why managing stressful situations and dealing with negative emotions can help you in sticking to your plan and your exercise routine. It is important to learn how to detect and manage negative emotions because they play an important role in physical activity maintenance. The way we manage emotions can vary due to individual differences. Some people like watching horror movies because they enjoy the feeling of being scared. Some people don’t mind feeling sad, because it gets their creative energy flowing for use in creating art, music or writing, or some may just feel comfortable having” a cry” from time to time. Negative emotion in itself is not necessarily distressing; we begin to feel distressed when we evaluate our emotional experience as negative and averse.

Emotional discomfort is impossible to get rid of so we all need to learn how to live with it, and not let our fear of distress restrict how we live our lives.

We can group negative emotions in many types and groups. Three examples are:

  • Sadness (disappointment, despair, guilt, shame, depression, grief, misery, etc.)
  • Madness (irritation, frustration, jealousy, anger, disgust, etc.)
  • Fear (anxiety, nervousness, panic, etc.)

These emotions can influence and change your intention to be active and may drive you towards unhealthy activities such as avoiding exercise, withdrawing exercise, watching TV, drinking alcohol, gambling, playing video games, or finding other activities (than exercise) to distract yourself. In the long-term, these alternatives can escalate distress and create bigger life problems. You might also miss the opportunity to learn healthy ways to tolerate negative emotions. This is why it is so important to manage your emotions in an adaptive way.

Problems with tolerating distress (emotions that are unpleasant, uncomfortable) are often linked to a fear of experiencing negative emotions. These are some common beliefs, which are used by people who find it hard to tolerate negative emotions:

“Can’t stand this”

“It’s unbearable”

“I hate this feeling”

“I must stop this feeling”

“I must get rid of it”

“Take it away”

“I can’t cope with this feeling”

“I will lose control”

Do any of the statements above sounds true for you?

If yes, that could mean that you might find it hard to cope with emotional distress and this can have an influence on starting and maintaining your physical activity.

Please complete the task below to get more insight about how you are dealing with negative emotions.

TASK TO DO

Which negative emotions do you find difficult to deal with?

To get a better idea of how you are coping with distress and whether or not this is a problem in your life.

Step 1. Record

Keep a record over the next week of the negative emotions you feel.

Step 2. Rate

Make a rating of how intolerable (i.e., unbearable, unmanageable) these feelings were for you.

Step 3. React

Note how you reacted to these emotions (did you hysterically try to stop the feeling? Did you ride it out? Did you do things that seemed helpful or unhelpful to coping with the emotion?).

You can make the following table to help you out. This is an example that could help you.

Day/Time                    Negative Emotion                    Intolerable (0-5)                   My reaction to the emotion

Where 0 = tolerable

and 5 = totally intolerable

An example:

Friday 8pm                 Unsatisfied with life in general              5 Drank, felt worse, hangover

Wednesday 6am        Frustration with work colleagues          3 Watched morning news on TV and went to grab

a coffee …

Accepting distress is about seeing the negative emotion for what it is, and changing how you pay attention to the emotion. In essence you become the watcher of your emotions, and this skill is often referred to as “mindfulness”. This skill will help you to stay on track and continue your exercise routine after the stressful day or an argument with the partner or a friend.

Task to do: Accept the distress.

Step 1: Watch or Observe

Try to observe your emotions, feeling like a third person would do. Observe your feelings even when this may cause the intensity to increase. The good news is that it will eventually decrease.

Step2: Label or Describe

Once you observe what you are feeling, it is time to name and describe you current state. Imagine being a commentator of your experience. This self-talk might sound like: Ok, I feel frustrated and a bit angry right now, I can feel it in the tightness of my jaw”

Step 3: Curious and Non-judgmental

Notice that the language, which you are using to describe your emotions, is not judgmental. The feeling is not good or bad, right or wrong, it is what it is.

Step 4: Imagery

Reinforce your observer attitude by using your imagination to help you go through stressful situation. Different images work for different people.

Take a look at the examples below or think of another image that can work for you.

Example 1: Non-stop Express Train (non-stop)

Think of the difficult situation and your emotions related to it as a non-stop express train, which is impossible to stop and it would be very dangerous to try to get in while it is still moving. Instead you just watch your emotions pass by like an express train until it is safe through the station.

Example 2: Ocean wave

Imagine your emotions as a big wave. Instead of trying swimming across the wave and being exhausted after a few minutes allow the wave to carry you over its crest and down the other side. You can also choose to surf the wave and get safe to the shore when the wave is calm and gentle.

Example 3: Clouds in the sky

Some people imagine their emotions as clouds in the sky. You can`t stop clouds like you can stop your emotions but you can just watch your emotions floating by you in their own time and eventually passing out of sight.

Step 5: Present Moment

When you feel that your feeling are coming to normal then it is a good time to direct your attention to the present moment like the particular task which you are doing or anything sensory like a sound, taste, smell. If you are finding it hard to think or feel anything focus on your breath and allow yourself to fully experience this moment.

6. Dealing with Emotional Comebacks

Be aware that no matter how expert you are at doing all the previous steps just mentioned, it is normal for negative emotions to sometimes reappear. This does not mean that you have failed; the key is to be aware that the emotion has made a comeback, congratulate yourself for

Being aware of this rather than getting sucked in or swept up in the emotion, and repeat the steps as before.

Your task is to catch and watch your emotion, it doesn`t matter how many times you have to do it. When an emotion pops back it is just another wave, or express train, or cloud, or whatever it is that allows you to again be the watcher of your emotions.

Example of tracking the distress

Step 1: Recognise & Allow Emotion:

Aha! I’m feeling sad. It is OK, I can allow myself to have this feeling…I can make space for it…I don’t have to be afraid of it or try to get rid of it. In a bit a will be able to go and do my exercise.

Step 2: Watch Emotion:

I can just watch this feeling and see what it does, I don’t have to get caught up in it.

Let’s see, where do I notice the emotion in my body?

This is just an emotion, just a feeling to be felt, nothing more and nothing less.

I am not my emotions, I am the watcher of my emotions.

The feeling is just like a…[ocean wave…I don’t need to fight the wave frantically…I can just go with the wave, letting it bob me up and down, or riding it into shore]

Step 3: Be Present:

I will turn my attention back to the task, which I planned today. I will do the eCoFit session as a planned.

Step 4: Deal with Emotional Comebacks:

I feel the emotion returning…that’s OK, that’s what emotions do, they like to rear their head again. I will just go back to watching it again…it is just another “ocean wave”. I have my exercise plan and I want to stick to it, I really want to take care of my health and my fitness.” I will wait when the “wave” becomes gentle.

Being mindful of your emotions is a skill that takes practice, patience and persistence. It is best to practice when you are not distressed, so you might be better able to apply the skill when you are distressed.

Healthy Mind - Female

Too busy Trap

“Your life is full of other responsibilities and there is no room for exercise”

Laura is a single mother of Ben 7 and Joy 9. Each morning she has to make sure that boys are ready for a school, she needs to prepare breakfast and lunch and then drop them off at school. Laura also works full-time as a nurse. Due to lack of time she has been snacking on unhealthy food and not exercising enough for quite some time. As a result of this, she has gained a few kilograms and she is now planning to be more physically active.

Finding time for exercise can be challenging.

How can she find time to be more active?

Often mothers think that exercise is something extra, a luxury which they cannot always have. Taking care of the family comes first and they often don’t leave time for themselves.

If Laura really wants to be more active and healthy for herself and kids she needs to find a way to make prioritise exercise, or it will never happen in the context of her busy life. Something needs to change.

If you want to be able to exercise, you have to fit the rest of your life around being active, rather than trying to fit exercise into an already packed day.

Consider your daily schedule. Look for tasks you are doing that you could, at least temporarily:

Cut back (Time spending on watching TV, browsing Internet and social media)

Do less well (Do you really need to have a completely spotless house?)

Ask for a help (Maybe you can ask your friend, family member to help you pick up kids, maybe you can share this responsibility with another parent who leaves near by. You could create a roster when and who is picking up kids at certain days)

Encourage partner/kids to help you with house responsibilities (you can ask them to put dishes away for you, clean the counter, fold clothes from the dryer etc.)

Stop doing (How about having the kids take the bus to school instead of driving them?)

Combine tasks (Can you do some activity while you are at the park with children? Then you can spend some time with them and also be active)

You will need to cut some stuff out to make room for exercise in your life.

Health is an important priority for you and for your family!

Ask yourself, who can help me get things done? Sometimes you are too busy and overwhelmed to step back and think who could help you. Think about your family, friends, your neighbours, your children’s  friends` parents, your co-workers. People are often happy, or at least willing to help, but if you don`t ask, you won`t receive a “helpful hand”.

Unreasonably strict exercise plan trap

“Your exercise plan is too hard to follow”

How often were you saying “I`m starting next Monday. I`ll sign up for a fitness class, zumba and I will jog/walk every day “.

Then you tried once, or twice and by the end of the week you have realized that you did not follow your plan. You had to stay longer at work, you meet up with your friend for a coffee had so much cleaning at home and so on…

This is an example of Unreasonably strict exercise plan. You created a plan which is hard to follow. After first misses class or jog you think that entire week is gone so you don`t need to exercise anymore, you can start the following week.

Don`t create a plan which you can not follow.

A plan that is too difficult to follow can give rise to sabotaging thoughts: “It’s too hard. I won`t workout today I will get back on track next week.” But if you develop a new plan that includes different environment and back up plans you may not give up. Even if you won`t workout that much as usual it is still a workout, you will keep your form and your active routine. This is a better solution than to create an unrealistic plan and eventually throw out the window everything which you accomplish so far.

Don`t wait, record your plan right now. When you are starting out, 2 to 3 sessions per week is a realistic and achievable plan.

Self-criticiser trap

“You beating yourself up when you make a mistake”

Jodie is a good, valuable team member of a real estate company. Other co-workers value her for being a hard-working, high achieving team member. Jodie also feels like her personal life and her work life are under control. However, she is not satisfied with her weight and her health condition. She says to herself “I feel horrible with this weight, I am 35 years old and I am 25 kg heavier than I should”, “I`m so well disciplined about my work, but when it comes to exercise I am just hopeless. I hate myself for that”. This list of Jody`s self criticism is very long…

How can you escape this trap? How not to beat yourself up?

Self-criticism plays no beneficial role when you’re trying to stay active. It leads to discouragement and undermines your confidence. Self-criticism is usually unwarranted, the result of setting yourself an unreasonable standard.

Think about being active as a new skill, new course. It is a process of learning. You will make mistakes as a part of the learning process. You have to keep your expectations on the reasonable level and keep practising new skill. Stop your negative thinking about yourself. Say “STOP” loud! “I will be better and better at it, beating myself up only lowers my mood and my motivation to change.”

Consider this: When you were learning a new skill like driving, did you make mistakes? Where would you be if you beat yourself up every time you did?

Remember it’s not a question of if you’ll make a mistake, it’s when.

Accept your imperfection and move on. Turn your attention to something else.

Make a list of the foundation strategies you’ve still practiced, even when you feel like it’s been a bad week. Pay particular attention to giving yourself credit for things which you have done correctly.

The Lack Of Support Barrier

You have unsupportive family member/friend who makes negative comments.

Megan has 2 sisters Kate and Amy, both of them kept their figures after they had kids. Megan always struggled to keep her form, and after becoming a mom, it has been even harder. Megan was exercising a couple of times but never stayed active for more than a month. Unfortunately her sisters always comment on her weight and plan of changing her lifestyle over various family events like: birthdays, Christmas, dinners, etc. These comments are not pleasant and very often they make jokes about her intentions: “Megan are you planning to run again? Do you think you can even make 3 weeks this time? That is why seeing her family always causes Megan a lot of stress and afterwards she feels discourage.

How Megan can change her situation?

The criticizer can vary from well meaning but misguided to downright cruel, with many shades in between. Start with these suggestions. Whether or not you can stop offensive comments, you can certainly change your reaction to them.

Megan could directly ask her sisters not to make comments. She could answer the sceptical statement by saying “Time will tell if my running routine will work, but in the meantime, please don’t make any more comments about this.”

How can you cope with a criticizing family member/friend/ co-worker?

Directly ask your family members not to make comments. For example, if they’re sceptical about whether you’ll succeed this time, you could say, “We will see what is going to happen, but in the meantime, please don’t make any more comments about this.”

Create a visual image so you can “put on your raincoat” or “turn on the windshield wipers” and have critical comments harmlessly slide away.

When family members say things that undermine your confidence in being able to exercise, remind yourself, “This time is different—I’m learning skills I never had before.”

If the family members making unhelpful comments are not mean spirited, remind yourself that they may actually believe they are being helpful. They may not be intentionally trying to anger or demoralize you. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should accept their unhelpful remarks without saying anything.

Remember, you are in charge of your reaction. You can choose to let what others say throw you off track and interfere with your goal of being more active—or you can decide not to let the comments get in the way and continue following your plan.

The When Things Calm Down Barrier

You think it will be too difficult to work on your active lifestyle during a stressful time.

Escape the When Things Calm Down Trap

Anna`s life is quite intense now. She is involved in charity work, she has started a childcare course, she babysits her brother`s children, and she has a part time job in the local groceries shop. Recently her personal life has caused a lot of stress as her partner broke up with her. On top of that Anna`s doctor informed her that she suffers from type two diabetes and she needs to take care of her health. She knows that she has to be more active but she has been going through a rough time recently so she decided to push off exercising until things calm down

What could Anna do better to prioritise her health?

She may think that right now it is impossible to be disciplined about working out.  The truth is that stress is a part of the life and she will be facing it in many other situations throughout her life. She needs to be prepared for that. Anna created Advantage Cards of being active. She asked her friend to walk/jog with her and support her when she will be trying to cancel her workout. She has been reading her cards daily. She was trying to recall all the situations when she was active, went for a walk instead of sitting at home and thinking about her ex-partner John. At the beginning it was hard to find time for it but after she realized that her health should be the top priority, she rearrange her meetings at the charity, and exercising with the kids while babysitting.

Think about your life

Think about a time when you gave in to sedentary behaviour like watching TV and a time when you got up and left your home for a workout; which made you feel better an hour later?

Stress is part of life; there’s no chance you’re going to be completely rid of it, so you need to learn how to manage it. Look for ways to decrease your stress level and increase your self-care. Tune in to your stress and lack of activity. Does it truly help you manage stress, or does it make things worse? Then create an escape plan for each difficult situation you identify.

When you’re going through a stressful time, take extra care to read your Advantage Cards often—even several times a day—to help you remember that getting off track with your exercise program will make you more stressed, not less. (You don’t need the additional stress of feeling guilty about something you did not do!) Staying on track will help you feel more in control of your ability to keep it going and more in control in general, which will make you feel less stressed overall.

Jumping to Conclusions

You tend to jump to unjustified conclusions.

You might make quick assumptions about how things are and what they’re going to be like in the future (predictive thinking), or you will assume that you know what someone else is thinking (mind reading). These conclusions and assumptions are not based on facts or evidence, but rather on your feelings and personal opinions. As such they can often lead you down the wrong path.

Imagine that you are working out with your friend Ann. She encouraged you to go for a challenging run with her. Ann is in great shape. While you were running she looked at her watch.

Perhaps you might have thought, “She must think I’m a really unfit person”, or "I am slowing her down…I’m not good enough.”

Jumping to these conclusions without thinking about other possibilities (such as the fact that Ann could have an important meeting afterwards or she is just checking her running time) might change your mood and undermine your confidence. Sometimes, we jump to conclusions because we think poorly about ourselves (“I`m unfit”, “I`m not good enough”) so we`re assuming that others must think the same way too.

Change your unhelpful thoughts by using the following example:

“She must think I’m a really unfit person”

  1. Awareness of this unhelpful thinking style

‘Ok, I feel like I `m jumping to conclusion too fast right now”

2. Self-analysis questions

  • ‘In what specific situations do I jump to these sorts of conclusions?
  • ‘What other possibilities or facts do I tend to often overlook?’
  • ‘Why do I think this way?

3. Challenge your negative thoughts

  • “What evidence do I have that supports this assumption?”
  • “How many times have I made incorrect assumptions?”
  • “What if things are the way I imagine them? Why should this bother me?”

4. Replace your unhelpful thought!

“Does Ann have an appointment afterwards? She needs to pick up her kids from school. I should ask her if she is in a rush.”

Overgeneralisation

You might reference your past in order to make assumptions about the present (e.g. NOTHING good EVER happens). You might see a pattern based upon a single event, or be overly broad in the conclusions you draw. For instance, you might recall one particular incident in your past and, as a result, you end up making the following statement:

“NOTHING EVER works out for me. I NEVER have any luck.”

An example from your personal life would be:

“You NEVER do anything romantic for me”, “He ALWAYS leaving me with all the house responsibilities”

Now imagine that you are in a park. It is very busy day and a lot of people came to relax and enjoy the nice weather. You are in the middle of your work out but suddenly you`re thinking:

“EVERYONE is staring at me, I ALWAYS have a problem - working out in the park”

Whenever you use expressions such as, “I never… People never…  He always… She always… Everyone… You never…” you are at that moment overgeneralizing.

If you tend to use these words too often you may feel frustrated, discouraged, depressed, or annoyed, amongst other things. To change this unhelpful thinking for more adaptive and positive thinking, it’s important that you get out of the habit of building your entire future around isolated negative events or instances from your past.

Avoid using words such as “always” and “never”.

Change your unhelpful thought by using the following example:

“EVERYONE is staring at me, I will NEVER improve my fitness and health.”

  1. Awareness of this unhelpful thinking style
    “Wait, maybe I`m overgeneralising this situation”

2. Self-analysis questions

  • “How do I tend to overgeneralize things?”
  • “When do I tend to do this?”

3. Challenge your negative thoughts

  • “Am I being realistic when I’m overgeneralizing things?”
  • “What evidence do I have that suggests things will always be this way?”

4. Replace your unhelpful thought!

"It is very busy today. People seem to be interested in my workout; this is probably the first time they`re seeing the bench used this way. Maybe I will inspire someone today…That`s great!"

Magnification and Minimisation (discounting positives)

This is an unhelpful thinking style where you tend to magnify the positive attributes of a situation or another person, while at the same you minimise your own positive attributes.

Think of times in your own life where you might have experienced the following:

When you thought about others: “They don`t really mean it, they were just being polite to me”.

You’re devaluing yourself each time you use this unhelpful thinking style. You easily explain everything, without taking your positive characteristics and achievements into account.

Consider this:

Example 1:
“Oh, I wouldn’t be able to do the Islington Park Challenge in 45 minutes again. I just got lucky…”

Example 2:
“She is so fit, I will never be as good as she is. Exercising comes so easy to her. I`m getting tired too fast. I`m just not good at it - this is not for me.

Disqualifying your own achievements is not healthy and can significantly affect your self-esteem, motivation, and how you feel about exercise.

Change your unhelpful thoughts by using the following example:

  1. Awareness of this unhelpful thinking style

‘Ok, I feel like I `m discounting my ability here

  1. Self-analysis questions
  • How do I tend to magnify the positive attributes and experiences of other people?
  • How do I tend to minimize my own positive attributes and experiences?
  • How do I twist my own positive attributes and experiences in a negative way?
  1. Challenge your negative thoughts
  • What if I deserved the results I attained? What evidence is there that proves this is true?
  • What if I deserved to be complimented? What evidence is there that proves this is true?
  • What if it wasn’t luck but rather a combination of planning, consistency, determination and experience? Where is the evidence for this?
  1. Replace your unhelpful thoughts!

Example 1

Oh, I was able to do an Islington Park Challenge in 45 minutes. That is surprising, I guess I underestimated my fitness, it actually has improved

Example 2

“She is so fit, probably she is running for months or years". Nothing comes easy for anybody; she put a lot of work in it. However she had to start somewhere! ! However long it takes me to complete the challenge, I know that I’m lapping everyone sitting at home on the sofa! I`ll also improve in a few weeks, months. I just have to stay on track and enjoy this time outside. Spring has come; it will be easier to leave home for a Challenge. Maybe I can encourage my friend from work to join me”.

Emotional Reasoning

This is an unhelpful thinking style were you tend to base your view of a particular situation, yourself or others on the way you’re feeling. Therefore your feelings may influence how you perceive a situation despite evidence to the contrary. So, you might choose to feel bad about something that is going to happen just because you are feeling miserable in the moment. You are therefore using your current emotional state as a view of your life and circumstances.

“Jody is sick, I didn`t sleep well today. I feel so unproductive, it`s already 11.00 am and I still haven`t send this e-mail out. My Islington Challenge will be also be unenjoyable? hopeless too. Ehh, I won’t bother doing it today

You may automatically tend to believe that what you’re feeling is the truth.  As the result this may determine how you`re perceive a situation, what decisions you`re making regarding your exercise routine. Try not to allow your emotions to dictate your life and change your exercise plan. You made the plan because being active is important for you.

Change your unhelpful thoughts by using the following example:

“I feel so unproductive, it`s already 11.00 am and I still haven`t send this e-mail out. My Islington Challenge will be also be unenjoyable? hopeless too. Ehh, I won’t bother doing it today “

1. Awareness of this unhelpful thinking style

”Am I making my decision based upon my current mood? I think this could be an example of the emotional reasoning”

2. Self-analysis questions

  • How do I tend to make decisions based on my emotions and feelings?
  • How do I tend to make judgments using emotional reasoning?
  • How does thinking this way make me feel?
  1. Challenge your negative thoughts
  • Am I basing my interpretation of this experience on my emotions or on the facts of the situation?
  • What evidence suggests that the way I’m thinking about this is not accurate?
  • How accurate is it to use emotional reasoning to predict the future? When have I been right? When have I been wrong?
  1. Replace your unhelpful thought!

“Just because I feel bad right now, doesn’t necessary mean that my Islington Challenge will be bad too. My mother will take care of Jody. Exercise will probably make me feel better and afterwards. I`ll be proud of myself.

The way I feel right now is just a reaction to my current mood. A walk or run in the park will make me feel better”.

eCoFit Response Cards

These cards will help keep you on track in difficult situations. Prepare yourself for future barriers - don`t wait for them to occur and ruin your exercise routine.

eCoFit Response Cards:

  • Keep you motivated
  • Prepare you for hard times
  • Help you in healthy decision making
  • Help you in creating a new habit

How to make eCoFit Response Cards

Every morning, look at the day ahead. Ask yourself:

  • “What potential barriers) will I encounter which may stop me from doing my Challenge today?”
  • “What sabotaging thoughts might go through my head that could stop me from doing my eCoFit Challenge?”
  • “What do I want to be able to tell myself in those situations?”

Whenever you regret something you’ve done, ask yourself:

  • “What excuse/reason did I give myself not to exercise today?”
  • “How can I prepare myself for the same sabotaging thought in the future? What can I say to myself then?”

Create your eCoFit Response Card:

  1. Identify your barriers
  2. Create solutions
  3. Write both the barriers and the solutions on a card or on your phone
  4. Read your response cards at least once per day each morning
  5. Be prepared for the future!

Write your responses on your eCoFit Response Cards or use a note-taking program or app on your smartphone. If you have difficulty composing a compelling response, don’t worry. Take a look at the example below:

When I get home I won`t sit down on the sofa. I`ll take my workout clothes which I prepared yesterday, and I`ll get changed and leave the house immediately (even if I don`t feel like doing this then, or even if my kids ask me to stay home with them). This is my time for a eCoFit Challenge. I am doing this for myself and my family”

eCoFit Tips:

  • Read your response cards every morning
  • Read them just before you enter a difficult situation which can stop you from doing your exercise (e.g., going away for a weekend, planning to do the eCoFit session before going out for a dinner etc.)
  • Develop your self-discipline to read them daily (set a reminder on your phone, put sticky notes on your fridge, keep them in your purse, wallet, etc.)
  • Do not follow your sabotaging thoughts such as “It’s okay if I don’t read my eCoFit response cards . . . I’m too busy. I don’t really need them. I don’t feel like doing them.”

Holiday Trap

“You find it hard to exercise during holidays”

Everybody looks forward to going on holidays so that they can forget about work and focus on pleasure.

Holidays seem to be perfect time to give up your routine, especially a healthy routine.

“I am on holidays so I don`t need to stick to my exercise routine. I will do what I want – I can have a glass of wine, a tasty dessert and relax. Yes, this is what I need.”

We often think that during this time we can do whatever we feel like because “we`re on holidays”. For some people going back to unhealthy habits like overeating food and desserts (which we are normally trying to avoid) and being inactive seems to be the obvious thing to do.

The consequence of this mindset and action is that it reinforces the “giving up” muscle, which you are trying so hard to weaken. Each time you are active, you are strengthening a “good turning-up muscle”. Our goal is not to go back to the same inactive routine.

Staying in control of being active does not necessary means that there is no room for your favourite meal and lying down on the beach. The key to success is “to do something”.

“Something it`s always better than nothing”.

Incorporating some physical activity during your holidays, even if it’s just a 20-minute walk and a handful of push-ups, will help you stay on track.

How to stay in control and keep the healthy routine going:

Strategy 1. Focus on the positive benefits of sticking to your plan. Write these down on your index cards or on your phone.

Strategy 2. Make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of staying in control and exercising during your holidays.

Take a look at the example below:

Advantages of not exercising:

  • Do not have to plan when to exercise
  • Do not have to pack extra clothes
  • Will not feel sore after the workout
  • Won’t need to sacrifice free time for exercise

Disadvantages of not exercising:

  • Loss of control
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of fitness
  • Poor role model for kids
  • Feelings of guilt due to lack of activity
  • Lack of the positive emotions that were making me feel better about myself and were building my confidence
  • Worry about whether I’ll be able to get back to my exercise when I get home

Now consider what is more important for you.

Strategy 3. Consider that uncontrolled eating and inactivity doesn`t always feel great. Can you recall these moments when you felt sluggish, bloated and tired?

Now think about:

  • How do you normally feel when you complete your Challenge?
  • Do you feel that you have accomplished something?
  • Do you feel proud that you are working towards your goal?
  • Do you enjoy being outdoors and taking advantage of the beautiful weather?
  • How does it feel to balance relaxation in the park and activity?

Try to focus on these benefits and evaluate the situation.

Ask yourself: Is it really worth it to not do anything at all?

Keep your “turning up” muscle going!

The “I’ve Failed” Trap

You tell yourself you will get back on track tomorrow

“I’ve blown it for the day. I was too tired after an exhausting day at work. I might as well not exercise for the rest of the week and start fresh from Monday”

What’s interesting about this kind of “I’ve failed” thought is that, in almost no other area of life do we think in this illogical way (i.e., we don’t typically compound one mistake with another).

Consider these “wrong analogies” and notice how irrational they sound.

Situation 1: Let’s say you were cooking dinner for your family or friends and by mistake you added chilli instead of sweet paprika. Would you think, “I’ve really blown it now!” and then add another teaspoon of chilli?

Situation 2: Imagine you transfer your money to the wrong account. Would you think, “Well, I’ve blown it now” and send more money to the same wrong account number?

Of course not! You would immediately change what you were doing to avoid further negative consequences, such as using other ingredients to tone down the heat, or immediately calling the bank to report your error.

Think about your mistakes related with physical activity this way. See how illogical your actions are.

Create a reminder card about this:

"When I make an exercise mistake, I must remember that it makes no sense to keep making more. Just as I would never consider adding more chilli to the meal and ruining an entire dinner, I shouldn’t consider being inactive for the rest of the day or even week if I just missed one session. Getting back on track at any point puts me in a better position than if I wait even one moment longer".

When you learn to stop yourself after your first missed session, you put yourself in a better position than if you would miss two. Also, stopping yourself after two days is better than three, and so on.

You can work hard to prevent mistakes, but you can’t eliminate them altogether. Mistakes happen. They’re part of life—and they are certainly part of changing your lifestyle. Once you make a mistake, you can either blame yourself and focus on this negativity, or you can learn from your mistake to avoid making the same one in the future.

This technique below can help you in finding the problem and solution.

Whenever you make a mistake, take a few moments and ask yourself:

  • What was the situation?
  • What happened?
  • What sabotaging thoughts did I have?

Create your reminder card about this problem and solution for it.

“No Willpower” Barrier

You believe you can’t maintain exercise

You might have those days when you`re saying to yourself, “I have no willpower today. I feel weak. I won`t exercise today.”

Does this sound familiar?

Sometimes we have tough days when we feel overwhelmed and under the control of our sabotaging thoughts which tell us not to be active. Are those days and situations truly unmanageable? Exercise is not an automatic behaviour; that means it requires motivation to start but we also can influence what we do and when. This also creates an opportunity to exert willpower in any situation, even a difficult one.

Be prepared and have a plan - that will increase the likelihood you’ll be able to exert willpower in even the most difficult situations.

How to avoid the “no willpower” barrier:

Strategy 1: Filter your thoughts

Pay attention to what you’re saying to yourself. Are you trying to motivate yourself by saying, “It is hard today but I will do it anyway. Completing a challenge will make me feel better” or do you instead tell yourself, “Today`s Challenge is impossible” or “I have no willpower to complete a Challenge today”. You have to remind yourself that these phrases just provide an excuse for not getting your physical activity.

Strategy 2: Hard vs. Truly impossible

Step 1: Keep in mind the difference between things that are hard and things that are truly impossible.

Step 2: Make a list of the hard things you’ve done in your life

An example:

  • Raise children
  • Get a degree
  • Work toward a promotion

Now consider! All those achievements took sustained effort and determination.

They were hard, but you did them!

Step 3. Next, make a list of difficult exercising experiences in which you stayed in control.

Remember that even though it’s hard, you can exert willpower and resist—and when you do, you won’t regret it once the tempting situation has passed.

Write a reminder card!

An example for “no willpower” or ”it is too hard”:

There is a difference between things that are hard and things that are impossible. Just because it feels really hard to do a Challenge today, doesn’t mean I can’t. I have done many other hard things in my life that were harder to achieve than going for a walk/run in the park. I can do it!

“I Don’t Care” Barrier

Momentary feelings of apathy undermine your motivation.

The temptation of being inactive can be powerful. Sometimes we just don’t feel like investing the energy to stay on track. In those situations, we tend to pretend to ourselves that we “don’t care” about the consequences of not exercising. But obviously we really do care.

Think about all the times when you decided to follow this internal voice saying, “I don`t care today”

How did you feel after the fact?

Were you disappointed or discouraged?

Did you ask yourself, “How could I have done this? I really didn`t want this to happen!”

How do you feel now looking back at those situations?

You need to remember that the “I don`t care” feeling always passes. This feeling comes very often when we have a more instant and pleasurable alternative for exercising, like meeting up with our friends or watching a favourite show in the evening. In those situations it is easy to say, “I don`t care about the Challenge today” because you have this tempting alternative.

Now imagine you were on a diet and you went to a coffee shop to grab just a flat white. What happened 5 minutes afterwards? You found yourself with a coffee and a muffin. Does it mean that you are not on diet anymore? No. You just followed the ‘internal voice’ which told you, “I don`t care about my diet now”. This voice was louder than your goal of eating healthier at that particular moment. The truth is that your goal has not changed, you just faced a challenging situation and you were not prepared for that.

This happens often, especially when we are trying to implement a new behaviour like physical activity. The benefits of being with friends or watching a show comes instantly - we feel relaxed and pleased - whereas the full benefits of exercise can be observed after days, weeks, months or years of being active. We are get some instant pleasure after completing exercise, but the difficult part is to start doing it and to keep going no matter what. The “delayed-benefit” nature of physical activity is often challenged by other “instant-benefit” behaviours like meeting up with friends or seeing a good movie, or going shopping for clothes? We have to realise this threat.

How to avoid the “I don`t care” barrier:

Step 1: Keep in mind that the “I don`t care” feeling always passes, but the reasons you want to be more healthy and active will not stop feeling important.

Step 2: You need to learn how to recognize situations in which you might think that you don’t care in that moment. However, it’s not true that you won’t care later on.

But also question whether or not you actually “don’t care” at any given moment.

Write a reminder card!

Examples:

The next time I think, “I’m not going to do a Challenge today because I don’t care,” I need to remind myself that while it’s true that I may not care right in that moment, I absolutely will care later on—so I can’t let this one moment of not caring override my actions of being fit and healthy.

Even when I tell myself I don’t care about being active, I really do. There’s never a time when I wouldn’t choose to be healthy and feel proud of myself over anything I was about to do

What is self-talk?

Self-talk (also referred to inner dialogue or inner voice) is described as something ‘that people say to themselves out loud, or it can be defined as a small voice in their own heads’. By using self-talk you`re providing opinions and evaluations on what you’re doing as you're doing it. Self-talk expresses emotions, impressions, biases, and associations in all kinds of situations.

Self-talk has been used by coaches and athletes as one of the most widely used and effective strategies for improving sport performance. Negative self-talk is associated with poor performance, whereas positive self-talk is associated with better performance. Research shows that successful athletes use positive self-talk more often in comparison to less successful athletes.

Self-talk is an important strategy, which can be used as part of our mental exercise. This strategy will help you to strengthen your “turning up muscle”.  Self-talk is not only beneficial for professional athletes, everybody can benefit from it. We can and should use “self-talk” to help us achieve our own goals and to stay physically active.

Consider what happens after you’ve done something embarrassing. Does your inner voice say, “that was stupid!”?

How about if you haven't even done anything wrong or stupid at all, but your inner voice is just as critical?

This destructive type of self-talk limits you and brings you down. Try to replace negative self-talk with positive inner talk.

Self-talk examples

Positive self-talk strategies to cope with pain and to keep you motivated:

  • “Hey, I’m trained for this. I’ve prepared myself. I can get through this. It will get easier soon. Everybody else is suffering too. If I’m suffering, everybody else must be suffering worse”’
  • “Pain is weakness leaving the body”
  • “Fear is what stops you... courage is what keeps you going”
  • “Don`t think, just do it!”
  • “I can show myself and my husband that I can!”
  • “My breathing is controlled,”
  • “I can do it!”, “I am a strong runner,”
  • “Get to the next kilometer marker,”
  • “Forget about the word ‘can`t’ ”
  • “This isn’t that hard,”
  • “Stride, stride, abide, abide,”
  • “It's never too late to become what you might have been”

Why self-talk is important?

  1. It helps to boost your confidence.
  2. It builds your self-esteem.
  3. It introduces optimistic thoughts that can save you from negativity about your physical activity.
  4. It calms you down when you are under stress.
  5. It can help improve your decision making when you are under tension and emotional arousal and you don`t know what to do.
  6. It helps you to concentrate.
  7. It can help you to improve your performance in everything you do.
  8. It helps you to stay in control.

The more you work on improving your self-talk the better you will get.

How to implement self-talk in your life?

  1. Find a positive quote, “your mantra” which will be used in various situations related to physical activity. You can use this to motivate yourself before the Challenge or while you `re exercising to keep going!

An example would be: “Anna you must find a way to organize the day better, get ready to work the day before, push back house work for the day before or the day after the Challenge. Encourage someone to join you. You really want to fit the Challenge into your schedule, just find a way to do it!”, or “Let`s go”, “I feel good”, or “I might be moving slowly, but I’m lapping everyone sitting on the couch, today I am giving up all the shows on TV and I will do something for myself, this is my ‘outdoor SPA time’. Even when I feel stressed sitting at home will make it worse being outdoors will make me feel better.”

(You can use the first form “I” or “you” to talk about yourself in your inner-talk”)

  1. Work on ways of building your self-confidence and use positive self-talk daily
  2. Start questioning your negative self-talk by noticing what you’re saying about yourself.
  3. If you recognize that you need to change you negative self-talk say: “STOP” to yourself. You can also include a physical action to help you like clicking your fingers. Replace the native self-talk for your positive mantra.
  4. Don`t be ashamed and say it loud J
  5. Keep using it!

We all experience emotions. Emotions are an important part of being human, and are essential to our survival. We are designed to feel a whole range of emotions, some of which may be comfortable to us, and others which may be uncomfortable. Emotions drive and maintain our behavior but sometimes they also stop us from doing what we planned. That is why managing stressful situations and dealing with negative emotions can help you in sticking to your plan and your exercise routine. It is important to learn how to detect and manage negative emotions because they play an important role in physical activity maintenance.

The way we manage emotions can vary due to individual differences. Some people like watching horror movies because they enjoy the feeling of being scared. Some people don’t mind feeling sad, because it gets their creative energy flowing for use in creating art, music or writing, or some may just feel comfortable having” a cry” from time to time. Negative emotion in itself is not necessarily distressing; we begin to feel distressed when we evaluate our emotional experience as negative and averse.

Emotional discomfort is impossible to get rid of so we all need to learn how to live with it, and not let our fear of distress restrict how we live our lives.

We can group negative emotions in many types and groups. Three examples are:

  • Sadness (disappointment, despair, guilt, shame, depression, grief, misery, etc.)
  • Madness (irritation, frustration, jealousy, anger, disgust, etc.)
  • Fear (anxiety, nervousness, panic, etc.)

These emotions can influence and change your intention to be active and may drive you towards unhealthy activities such as avoiding exercise, withdrawing from exercise, watching TV, shopping, compulsive cleaning or overeating, drinking alcohol or finding other activities other than exercise to distract yourself. In the long-term, these alternatives can escalate distress and create bigger life problems. You might also miss the opportunity to learn healthy ways to tolerate negative emotions. This is why it is so important to manage your emotions in an adaptive way.

Problems with tolerating distress (emotions that are unpleasant, uncomfortable) are often linked to a fear of experiencing negative emotions. These are some common beliefs, which are used by people who find it hard to tolerate negative emotions:

“Can’t stand this”

“It’s unbearable”

“I hate this feeling”

“I must stop this feeling”

“I must get rid of it”

“Take it away”

“I can’t cope with this feeling”

“I will lose control”

Do any of the statements above sounds true for you?

If yes, that could mean that you might find it hard to cope with emotional distress and this can have an influence on starting and maintaining your physical activity.

Please complete the task below to get more insight about how you are dealing with negative emotions.

TASK TO DO

Which negative emotions do you find difficult to deal with?

To get a better idea of how you are coping with distress and whether or not this is a problem in your life.

Step 1. Record

Keep a record over the next week of the negative emotions you feel.

Step 2. Rate

Make a rating of how intolerable (i.e., unbearable, unmanageable) these feelings were for you.

Step 3. React

Note how you reacted to these emotions (did you hysterically try to stop the feeling? Did you ride it out? Did you do things that seemed helpful or unhelpful to coping with the emotion?).

You can make the following table to help you out. This is an example that could help you.

Day/Time            Negative Emotion                       Intolerable (0 -5)                        My reaction to the emotion

Where 0 = tolerable

and 5 = totally intolerable

An example:

Wednesday 7am     Anxiety before meeting                               4 Went for a walk and then called my friend

Friday 5pm            Anger after the argument with a partner       5 Ordered a take-away pizza and watched 3

episodes of my show

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.