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Making Lifestyle and Wellness Changes that Stick for Life

Making Lifestyle and Wellness Changes that Stick for Life

The benefits of a well balanced diet and regular exercise and activity are well known, with benefits including increased energy, decrease in the risks of lifestyle disease, better sleep and a stronger body.

Even if you have never stepped foot inside a gym or exercise centre, or exercised with a personal trainer, many will have read in magazines, online, or seen on television that a healthy lifestyle makes you feel (and look) great, and has proven health benefits.

Even if you are not currently at your healthy best, many can recall a time when they were experiencing these benefits, and want to seek a return to this state. So why is it that despite knowing the negative health outcomes of poor diet and inactivity, so many people find themselves on the couch? And for many why is it that even when they make changes, they often return to a more sedentary life?

Changing your lifestyle, the way you eat and the way you exercise can be a challenge, even if the benefits of change far outweigh the effort involved. It’s not just about putting on the right gear and doing the right exercises, but also about getting the right support when you begin and as you progress. That’s why it’s important to make sure you use an appropriately qualified and experienced exercise professional, and get good advice and ongoing support. For many, knowing what to do is not enough to keep motivated, and benefit significantly from having someone to guide them along the way.

NZ personal training pioneer Wendy Sweet undertook a study in 2008 of 12 of New Zealands top personal trainers. She explored the intervention strategies they implemented in order to be most effective in changing their client’s health behavior, helping them get the results they wanted, and to continue exercising to keep healthy in the longer term. She found that the trainers coaching style was important, with personal trainers being authoritative at first, and focusing on education, but becoming more empathetic as training continued. The successful trainers empowered their clients to make their own decisions and to become more confident.

Wendy says “today, busy and time-poor, exhausting lifestyles get in the way of both discipline and motivation. Fortunately though, New Zealanders no longer have to do this on their own to achieve changes to their current health behaviours. There are people in the exercise industry who know how to coach and lead ‘transformation’ from within. These people are called personal trainers and assisting you to change your lifestyle behaviours are what they do best”.

The key to maintaining lifestyle changes is not about signing up to the latest fitness trend and following it, but working with someone who takes the time to understand your motivation, and works with that in mind.

The media is fond of showing one size fits all ultra high intensity style exercise training and often presents personal trainers as ‘tough’ people demanding maximum effort with ‘no excuses’. But to make long term changes, it is clear that a more collaborative and supportive approach is needed. Wendy calls this “client-centred counselling”. With this approach, a personal trainer will work with their client assisting them to look into their own thoughts and behaviours around exercise, and involve them in the process of moving towards healthier choices.

So what does this mean to you if you want to make changes to your health and wellbeing? Wendy has this advice, “If you have tried to lose weight, get in shape, or become healthier in the past, and haven’t quite got there or stayed there, then seek support from the people who really care about transforming your life. Find a personal trainer who is right for you and they will not only help you get there, but enable and empower you to learn as you go, so that you develop healthy habits for a life-time.”

It means ditching the all or nothing approach, staying away from exercise packages that claim to change you without knowing you, and understanding that it is not just what exercise you do and how hard you do it. The key to successful lifestyle change is understanding your own feelings around exercise. When using a personal trainer to help you on your exercise and wellness journey, make sure you choose one that is able to do more than bark orders; work with a personal trainer registered with the NZ Register of Exercise Professionals. This ensures that your exercise professional has the appropriate knowledge and skill to make the journey successful.

To find suitably qualified personal trainers and exercise facilities in your area, simply go online to www.reps.org.nz or call 0800 55 44 99 for help.

ends

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