Your Exercise Response

“The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.” Stephen Covey, The 8th Habit.

As I read another spam email concerning losing weight and ridding oneself of obesity this quote from Stephen Covey rings so true. These companies and weight loss programs that focus on weight loss are really failing to notice what is important.

Pounds on a scale or speed of weight loss are so far from the determinant success factor in an exercise/fitness program that they should not be allowed to be used in the same sentence.

Is the purpose of exercise to lose weight?

That is like saying the purpose of attending church is to “be seen and make contacts” and to get doughnuts and coffee after the service.

Is there any question as to why people hate to exercise or never stay with their programs? Their marker of success and reason/purpose for exercising is to lose weight!

Exercise gurus and the fitness public at large are failing to notice the focus of getting fit; hence, the plethora of ways to attain physique stardom. Things such as pills, potions, “butt and ab blaster” series and the fad diets toting they are the “only and best ways to be fit.”

Stephen Covey also gives us this quote from the 8th Habit, “Between stimulus and response lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and our happiness.”

The idea is to improve oneself mentally, physically, and spiritually, thus enlarging our “space.” This gives us better and more educated responses, to the point of even creating our response or outcomes.

In the It’s Hip To Be Fit! Program we talk about finding your “why.” Your “why” as to why you do what you do (work, family, health and fitness). We talk about focusing on things other than weight loss and social status when it comes to getting fit; such as changing your mindset or developing a new blueprint for an exercise lifestyle.

If our stimulus is a scientifically formulated exercise routine, what will our response to that stimulus be? If our why is to have more energy, be more productive and to enjoy a healthy and successful life, what will our outcome be? If our focus is in the right place, i.e. we are noticing what we need to notice, then it seems a more successful outcome is imminent – one that can be repeated.

A “would be” exercise enthusiast, lets call her Amy, begins a new fitness program (stimulus). Her focus is on weight loss in 6 weeks (this is her “choice” or “space” between stimulus and response; it is what she notices). The response is going to be based on losing weight, thus her success is determined by the weight loss.

If Amy fails to lose weight and feels she has not succeeded in her quest, she may now give up on the program, get discouraged and look for other avenues to lose weight. If she does lose weight, does this make her successful? Does she now have a bigger “space” in which to base her fitness decisions between stimulus and response? Is this program repeatable? What are the chances she is “fit” because she has lost weight in a certain time period? Was the program even healthy due to the outcome she was trying to achieve? Now that she has lost weightÂ…now what?

The measure of success for an exercise program, and therefore the response to the exercise stimulus should be improvement in energy.

The benefits of this response are immeasurable. To list a few:

Improved productivity Active metabolism Increased confidence Weight loss Improved muscle tone Improved brain function Reduced stress

Notice I used the word weight loss as a benefit. This is not my focus though. Weight loss is a bonus of improving my energy levels; it is my response. When clients focus on energy levels, they are more successful with their responses. They stick with their program longer and with more enthusiasm, and therefore increase that space between stimulus and response.

Improving one’s fitness is based on a proper mindset. Putting your focus on the right outcome makes all the difference when beginning a program. Scientifically based routines with full-body, multi-planar movement as well as proper nutrition is key as well. But, everything must begin with the right focus.

Unfortunately, we are all taught the importance of weight loss. And while this is important and obesity is a problem, it should not be the response we are looking for.

In my experience, more exercise programs “fail” due to what is reported on a scale than for any other reason.

Until we, as an exercise nation, change our prime focus from weight loss to a more meaningful and successfully oriented outcome we will continue to fail in our fitness programs. This is not the only issue with improper exercise and fitness; improper training, nutrition, and lack of activity among our youth are all topics of other articles. With that said, I think we need to notice what we are not noticing when we watch the next infomercial on diet and exercise.

“He who cannot change the very fabric of his thoughts will never be able to change reality, and will never, therefore, make any progress.” -Anwar Sadat