Plenty of experts in the field of weight loss tell us that the key to permanent weight loss is maintaining a regular exercise routine. Those who have exercise as a priority in their lives are more focused on their health and take consistent steps to staying healthy. The problem for us Baby Boomers is finding the time to exercise regularly. We must find ways to carve out the time and space for ourselves and to make our health a priority.

People oftentimes ask me what I do to stay in shape and how I get myself to workout regularly. It truly helps that I have made exercise a part of my life for over 30 years. Because I have exercised most of my adult life I don't have the challenges of so many who might just be starting an exercise routine. Maintaining good fitness is easier than starting out and trying to find what works for you. What has also made a difference is that I have in place a mental approach that increases my success at consistent exercise. First of all, I rarely ask myself, "Do I feel like working out today?" I don't have that conversation with myself. We don't usually ask ourselves, "Do I feel like brushing my teeth today?" We just do it; it is assumed. The only time I give myself an out is if I'm coming down with a cold or I am especially fatigued for some reason. If I'm truly tired I might invite myself to a shorter workout, knowing that I will likely finish the entire routine once I've gotten into it. I just tell myself, "Just exercise for 10 minutes; then quit if you want."

What works best for me is to use exercise DVD's at home instead of going to a gym. That way I don't have to be concerned that I still have "just slept in hair" or that my shorts don't match my shirt. I like to mix and match yoga, aerobics, and hand-weights depending upon what appeals to me that day. Variety is the key to making my body fit overall and it keeps me interested. Periodically, I buy a new DVD to keep my routines fresh and interesting and to reward myself.

Having a consistent morning exercise routine is what works best for me. I'm refreshed and not waiting to "fit exercise into the day". I get the workout done before doing anything else. The "let's see when I can fit it in" is a set up for failure. The only option for some may be to schedule their exercise right after work. Find what works best for you and stick to that. Make it a habit. Some people find that they are more motivated when they workout in a gym or take a class in a group setting. Their thinking is that they have paid money and that increases the motivation to attend. I also know of people who pay for the gym but still don't go because they haven't figured out how to motivate themselves effectively. Others find that working out with a friend is what gets them moving. Friends can motivate each other and make the process more enjoyable.

Find the right forms of exercise for you. Whatever you choose make sure there is some amount of enjoyment to the activity. I am reminded of a woman who came to me for help with exercise motivation. She fought with herself daily about jogging and could, at times, get herself to go for a run. The truth was she hated running but believed that it was the only way she could get into shape. Together we explored other forms of exercise that at least had the potential of enjoyment for her and that would get her into shape. That way she was more consistent in following through. There are so many forms of exercise to choose from:

Walking Zumba Dancing Martial Arts
Swimming Yardwork Tennis Weight Lifting
Yoga Hiking Running Bicycling
Aerobics Skating Housecleaning Volleyball

There are so many venues for exercise as well. There are private gyms, the YMCA, local Recreation Centers, and the local park. Your local Craigslist and offer groups for those wanting to walk, run, or be active with others who have similar interests. Try something new; have fun with it. I didn't start surfing until I was in my 50's!

Pay attention to how you think about exercise. Do you tend to think about it in negative terms? If you imagine yourself trudging through your routine or thinking about how tired you are this will only deflate your motivation. I think about exercise as "Me Time". I am taking time for myself. Before a workout I ask myself, "What DVD would I enjoy today?" I don't tell myself that I have to exercise; I get to exercise. Too many people our age are not able to be active due to physical problems. While I am able to be active, I'm going to take full advantage of my capabilities. I use other's health challenges to remind me that I better use it or lose it.

What is also key to motivation is regularly telling myself of all the benefits of following through. Exercise keeps me strong and flexible. I am reminded of that every time I lift something heavy or otherwise need to tackle some physical task. Exercise will keep me more physically able throughout the rest of my life. Exercise gives me more energy and helps me deal better with stress. And exercise helps me be as healthy and well as I can be. I have no good reason not to exercise and be active.

As a person who has exercised most of my adult life I reap great rewards from my persistence in terms of health and wellness. I can look back on my life and say that I'm glad I spent the time exercising even when I didn't feel like it. There was never a time that I wasted working out. My hope is that anyone who needs a little incentive can look at my experience and be motivated to exercise and reap great benefits for themselves. It can start with just a 5 minute walk around the block and blossom into a lifestyle that, out of persistence and habit, turns into better health and enjoyment of life. It just starts with one decision, followed by a commitment, and action.

Author's Bio: 

Sue Stevenson, Ph.D., is a Weight Loss Coach in Tucson, Arizona, who works with individuals and groups to help them reach their weight loss and fitness goals. She uses innovative techniques like Hypnosis and NLP. Her strengths are in identifying the blocks to weight loss and using techniques that resolve those blocks. She can be reached through her website: