Move from struggle to success

Success with Exercise Series-2

This post is the final part of my podcast series called Rethink Exercise Success.  

Fun nature fact:  “In the tropical regions of Africa, the crocodile lies with its mouth open and the plover flies into its mouth and feeds on bits of decaying meat stuck in the crocodile’s teeth. The crocodile does not eat the plover. Instead, he appreciates the dental work. The plover eats a meal and the crocodile gets his teeth cleaned.” *

In nature this is called Mutualism. What does this have to do with exercise?

Over the past four blogs and podcasts, we have been looking at how the body works with exercise and how the brain works with motivation line up perfectly! It’s not surprising—our body is part of nature. But this ‘mutualism’ between the brain and body is too often ignored when it comes to exercise.

Let’s review what the alignment of these eight body and brain facts reveal about how to exercise to get real and lasting results:

The principle of specificity in exercise lines up perfectly with self-determination theory to remind us that when you design exercise for what you want from it, motivation will be greater because you ‘own’ what you want and what you are doing to get it.

The exercise science principle of reversibility aligns with the motivation science of the habit loop to remind us exercise cannot solely focus on what is ‘good’ for the body if we want lasting results. How the brain experiences exercise determines if exercise becomes a habit.  

The exercise principle of individuality and the neuroscience of mindful self-compassion align and remind us that when you use your Inner Trainer (TM) as your best guide, exercise is personalized and motivating each time.  

The exercise principle of progressive overload aligns with the motivation science of intrinsic rewards and reinforces the importance of using your Inner Trainer, so the results you get are rewarding in a way that is built to last.  

How do you put this into action? Check out the last part of this audio series to see how we turn these eight overlooked facts into three steps for your exercise success.





Move from faux results to real results

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This post is part five of a series based on my new FREE audio program. 

Have you ever watched a plant grow?  Not so exciting, is it? The fact is, growth happens slowly in nature and in our bodies. Thanks to marketing, though, you might have a different impression. Time-lapsed video and before-and-after images give the illusion that change happens quickly.

The exercise science Principle of Progressive Overload says that when you:

  • challenge your body at the just-right level it can adapt to, it will get stronger
  • challenge it too much, too soon, it can’t adapt and is more likely to break down

Yet, the idea of quick results is much more marketable than this idea that change happens slowly.  In other areas of life, it is true—if you work hard, you are more likely to be successful.  Fitness marketers combine our desire for quick changes with this “work hard” mentality and come up with some pretty “insane” exercise programs. Our most popular fitness programs today, perpetuated by reality TV, reinforces this ‘work harder, get more results faster’ idea about exercise. The Principle of Progressive Overload does not stand a chance against the power of this marketing!

Well, if we are going to work harder, we are going to need some incentive. Seeing the scale go down, giving yourself a “cheat day”, winning a competition are all great ways to make you want to work harder.  External rewards like this are perfect to help you stay motivated, to ramp up your willpower, so you can get to a goal.

This is why external motivators are so luring. They work!  But they are really faux results, not the kind designed to last.

Motivation scientists tell us clearly:

  • External rewards lead to temporary motivation
  • Internal rewards lead to lasting motivation

Internal rewards are not as tangible, so they are easily missed.  When you learn how to use them, their power makes staying motivated so much easier!  Listen to part 5 of my audio series to find out how to resist that lure of quick, faux results and start using your intrinsic rewards to get real, lasting results from exercise.

In the next session, we will wrap up this series with a helpful summary of all that we have covered.



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Move from ‘tough love’ to Inner Trainer

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Click here for the playlist for this podcast  

Psst! Lean in a bit…I am going to let you in on a little secret. You—yes you—have an Inner Trainer™.  This Trainer resides right inside your intelligent body and is your best and most accurate guide for exercise. It’s there 24/7 to guide you through the most personalized workout each and every time, and keep you from going astray. The bonus is that this Trainer is free, for a lifetime!

Working with a personal trainer can be helpful. But without your Inner Trainer™ working alongside you, the results are most likely to be temporary.

Why?  Because science tells us you are unique. No two bodies will respond exactly the same to the same exercise. It’s the science-based Principle of Individuality. But how often are we sold on an exercise program because it worked for someone else? Using personal success stories is a great marketing strategy, but not a way to find your own personal exercise success.

Your body is also unique moment to moment, day to day, and year to year. Only you know how your body feels moment to moment.  When working toward a temporary external goal, like winning a competition, pushing through pain and fatigue is part of the training.   Because we often equate exercise with being athletic, the tradition having someone to push you harder with some “tough love” is often seen as the best way to exercise.  But remember, athletic type goals are meant to be temporary,  and so is this type of motivation.

Your Inner Trainer™ is your most reliable source of information about what’s right for you, when you define exercise success as lasting results.  Learning to listen to and trust your body moment by moment is the only way to adjust what you do so your exercise experience is positive. Remember, a positive experience is the key to lasting habits.

This is supported by neuroscientists’ findings that when you pay attention with an open mind and an attitude of kindness, it leads to lasting motivation. It’s called mindful self-compassion and although it goes against how we have been taught to exercise, it truly works for how we are meant to exercise when we are doing it for health and wellbeing.

This is one of the most challenging approaches to put into place. However, unless you are one of those people who enjoy the “tough love” of pushing your body to work harder and look forward to doing that for the rest of your life, listen to part four of my podcast (duration: 4:21) to find how to use your Inner Trainer for easier motivation and lasting results.

Then, stay tuned for the next session to be released soon.



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Move from breakable habits to lasting habits

Click here for the playlist for this audio series.  

Success with Exercise Series-16

This post is part three of a blog series based on my FREE audio program.  

Making exercise a habit is the “golden nugget” of exercise programs.  There are all kinds of suggestions out there to “make you” exercise, leading to the belief that if you stick with it long enough, you will  reach a fitness or weight  goal and then exercise will automatically become a habit.

If you want exercise to become a habit, it’s because intuitively you know what the exercise scientists call the Principle of Reversibility. This basically means if you use it, you get to keep it. You have probably experienced first-hand how easily you can lose strength or stamina or flexibility or regain lost weight when you are not exercising.    Certainly, making exercise a habit that you don’t have to think about would be considered “success” when it comes to exercise.

There are many ideas about how long it takes to build a habit.  Science tells us, however, that habit formation is not about time, it’s about experience

  • Negative experiences create a habit of avoiding something.
  • Positive experiences create a habit of wanting to do something.
  • Mixed experiences create the need for willpower to avoid or do something.

Keep those facts in mind as you consider the #1 fitness trend of 2018 – High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT.  This is where you put in all-out effort in order to get your cardio over with in less time.  What does it say about how we are using the science of habits and reversibility if our #1 way to exercise right now is very uncomfortable so we can get it over with? 

Listen to part 3 of my FREE audio program to find out how to design exercise so you move from breakable to lasting habits. (Hint: it’s about making exercise something you want to do.)

Then, stay tuned for the next session to be released soon.



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Move from ‘should’ to ‘want to’

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Click here to listen to this session

This post is part two of a series for my audio program called “Ready for Exercise Success”.  

In the next four parts of this series, we’ll look at the body and brain solutions to common struggles with exercise and blend them together with your definition of exercise success.

You cannot get lasting results for your body

without considering what that exercise is doing for your brain.

In this first session, let’s look at how to design exercise to get what you really want from it, in a way that makes you want to keep doing it for the rest of your life.

Check out this five minute audio session to learn how.  Here are the key points:

The body is designed to give us what we train for.  This principle of specificity tells us:

  • Exercise needs to be specifically designed for the results you want. I explain the many ways common exercise programs are designed for a whole different purpose than what you actually want.
  • Exercise needs to be based specifically on how the body is designed to function. I talk about some of the common misconceptions about how the body works that the most trendy exercise programs are based upon.

Your brain is set up to resist what you “have to” do and more easily chooses what you want to do.  The motivation science model of Self-determination theory tells us:

  • When you are doing exercise because you feel you “should” or “have to do it”, motivation will not last, for example, knowing you have to exercise to lose weight.
  • When exercise is something you are confident you can do, in a way you can get what you want, then you are more likely to want to exercise.

With these two facts about the brain and the body, we have great clues about how to set up exercise for lasting success. It sounds simple, but exercise is commonly designed and marketed in ways that make it harder for your brain to want to exercise.

Take a listen to find out how to set up exercise so you want to do it.



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  • Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance, 8th Edition, McArdle, Katch and Katch, 2014
  • Coaching Psychology Manual. Margaret Moore and Bob Tschannen-Moran, 2009