November 25, 2004
Body Talk: GET OFF THE SOFA
WHEN motivation guru and life coach Pete Cohen told me he could change my attitude to fitness in one session, I was sceptical.
As a dedicated couch potato, finding the energy to change the TV channel is hard enough. So going on a heart-pummelling, lung- churning run seems like masochistic madness.And it's not just laziness that stops me - a combination of work, an 11-month-old baby and a house crying out for DIY leaves scant time for exercise.
But Pete, who was recently an expert on ITV's Fat Chance and has now teamed up with Nike to encourage people to exercise during the dark winter evenings, was certain he could work his magic.
Getting motivated to keep fit is all about changing the way you think, says Pete: "You shouldn't exercise because anyone tells you to - you have to want to do it for yourself."
"The key is to make exercise a treat or reward, rather than something you use to punish yourself with.
"When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which make you feel good. So after a run, a swim or even a brisk walk you feel happier, less stressed and more motivated - able to tackle anything with renewed vigour."
To put theory into practice, Pete and I went for a riverside run around London's Tower Bridge. It was chilly and dark, I was getting over a cold and the last thing I felt like was exercise. But after jogging for a 100 yards I could feel my limbs beginning to free up and amazingly I started to enjoy the experience.
I'd been told by friends who are keen runners that you have to keep going for at least half an hour before you break through the pain barrier.
"That's rubbish," says Pete as we jog along. "Just five minutes of exercise is better than nothing - and doing a little bit often is more likely to get you in the habit of exercise."
As we wind up, Pete adds: "Think about how you feel at the end of a run - glowing, energised, satisfied and fit. You can use that sensation to motivate yourself into exercising next time - try to remember the positive feeling running gives and imagine you already feel all those things. With the benefits in mind, head off on your run."
I have to admit he's right. Exercising does make you feel good, and once you accept you don't have to be Paula Radcliffe to enjoy it, it starts to make sense.
I've even been for a couple of jogs since meeting Pete - and if I can do it, anyone can.
PETE'S TOP TIPS
1You don't have to complete any set distance or time when exercising. Just do what you feel like.
2Don't exercise until you're almost collapsing from the strain - it'll put you off.
3Vary your route when jogging to keep your interest up.
4Exercise when it's convenient for you - such as running or walking home from work.
More than 30,000 people are taking part in the Nike 10K run in London on Sunday, starting at 7pm. For more info and tips on night running, log on to www.runlondon.com