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Guest Contributor – Geoff Hampton

It is urgent that professionals and the general population make lifestyle improvements a high priority in their daily agendas and long-term goal setting.  As with any venture, there are effective and ineffective strategies.  Selecting the best strategy for success requires realistic planning and education. Far too many people are well intentioned when they decide to make healthy lifestyle modifications and they run out and purchase some type of home exercise equipment or go and join a health club thinking that they are truly ready to change and will be successful.  The problem is that in order to sustain true lifestyle change most people need some type of support mechanism or support system because this process represents a major lifestyle shift.  Without an effective support mechanism the good intentions too frequently result in failure.

According to Andy Greenberg, there are more former members of health clubs today than there are current members.  Furthermore, while home exercise equipment purchases are at an all time high, most home exercise equipment ends up unused, except as a convenient clothes horse or conversation piece.  The reason is that the health club sales person or the equipment company sales person capitalized on the consumers momentary desire to change and painted a glowing picture of the wonderful results that could be obtained through the expenditure to join the club or purchase the equipment.

The truth is that no spontaneous combustion occurred to suddenly make the person a dedicated exerciser and the person will probably drift back to their previous level of inactivity quickly.  The only difference is that now they have spent a great deal of money and a failure cycle has occurred that can dampen any future attempts at lifestyle modification.  In order to avoid this dilemma the person needs to plan effectively and consider all the components needed to truly be successful.

Success Planning:

· Commitment to at least 12 weeks of effort

· Strong support mechanism in place

· Effective system of clear and written goal setting that will help provide ongoing progress evaluation

· Methodology to attain maximal self-motivation

· Cycle breakers identified and a plan prepared in advance to circumvent any and all known potential cycle breakers and self inflicted excuse making.

Goal Oriented Change:

Success is dramatically increased through clearly defined, time oriented goals. When one determines goals to be used they need to be written down and put where the person will see them every day. Then a daily log must be kept for physical activity and exactly what and how much food is consumed on a daily basis. Portion control for food can be a tedious yet tremendous factor in making long-term positive health change.  The goals are designed to make lifelong change, not drastic change.


Failure Cycle – You must completely change everything that you eat immediately. No way. This is not realistic for most people and is a recipe for failure.

Success Cycle – You need to modify the portions that you are currently consuming. By simply making a conscious effort based in goal setting to reduce the amount of food consumed on a daily basis, positive changes will begin to occur. This is a recipe for success.

The same applies to daily exercise:

Failure Cycle – You need to exercise vigorously for at least an hour every day. Again, this is not realistic. Most people cannot go from an inactive lifestyle to vigorous exercise without failing in very short order.

Success Cycle – You need to increase your daily physical activity level gradually over a period of time based in goal setting. There are many simple ways to affect a moderate increase in physical activity on a daily basis. The simplest and least expensive is to walk. Make the exercise fun and the odds of success become even greater!


Geoff Hampton is a Medical Fitness Management & Leadership Development Specialist & Executive Director of the global grass roots campaign The Weekly Fitness Challenge. 

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