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Guest blog: Could ’emotivation’ be the key to achieving fitness goals

Written by Fiona March 13 2012

New Year’s resolutions are so easy to say – but never so easy to stick to. For the first few weeks of the year everyone feels a huge sense motivation to stick to the fitness and diet plan – but then the excuses begin and, as research shows, by February and March more than 50% of Keep-fit New Year’s Resolutions have gone by the wayside.

Mark Tiffney

Mark Tiffney

But Mark Tiffney, the director and head coach of Dynamic Core Solutions, believes that there is a way to stick to your New Year fitness and diet resolutions – by thinking about things in a different way.

The personal trainer, nutritionist, fitness instructor and life coach says: “The key to realising resolutions is to focus on the emotional drivers behind the desire to change. Forget about weight loss as your goal and focus instead on weight training.

“Resolve and willpower can get you through most things short term but in the end willpower alone will fail.”

Mark gives an example: More than half the people who try to give up smoking fail in the long run even if willpower carries them through a few days or weeks.

He adds: “The rebound rate for weight loss is higher than that of smokers. Why? Because you can’t WILL yourself thinner. There has to be an emotional connection.”

Dynamic Core Solutions was set up by Mark two-and-a-half years ago as a personal training programme and boot camp to support people whose willpower and self-belief deserted them.

Mark says: “I quickly realised that as well as needing motivation and fitness know-how, my clients’ body shape improved and confidence grew when they we able to understand what drove them emotionally to achieve their goals. Emotivation if you will.”

The importance of emotions for reaching fitness goals

Like it or not, our emotions rule our actions long-term. They cause internal hormonal activity and the resulting chemical reactions cannot be overcome with thought alone. Thousands of years of evolution have created these reactions and they are there to protect us.

Mark states that our bodies like the “status quo”. “It doesn’t like change or the unknown as that can spell trouble. So in order to overcome these emotional responses you need to create a stronger emotion to motivate you.”

Getting emotional about goals starts with one easy question, according to Mark:  “Why?”

For example, John, 24, is overweight, single and depressed: “I want to bring my waist size to 34 inches, improve my body composition to a level where I can see my six pack abs, add two inches to my chest and half an inch to each upper arm. I want to feel healthy, energised and confident in my appearance and I will do all of this by the time I go on holiday to Cyprus in June,” John reports.

Why? “Because I want to feel good about how I look on the beach” Why? “Because I want the girls who see me to find me attractive” Why? “Because I have never had a girlfriend and it depresses me to feel that women don’t find me attractive. So hopefully with an improved physique and level of self-confidence, I can put out a more positive personality and attract someone suitable to have a relationship with.”

Now we are getting somewhere. So the next time John thinks of skipping the gym, going for a pizza or heading out for a night of boozing with the lads, he has an alternative emotion to draw on. As long as the idea of feeling confident and ultimately being in a relationship remains stronger than the feeling of eating a pizza, the pizza menu stays in the drawer and he heads to the gym.

As well as his personal training and boot camp, Mark recently opened his own gym facilities, Dynamic Core Studios in Clydebank, five minutes from Glasgow’s West End. Like his approach to training, his facilities also differ from other quick fix gym offerings.

Once you have decided what your emotivation is, Mark advises that you lift something heavy. “No matter what your goal is, if it is physique based, it should involve heavy resistance training. That doesn’t mean gimmicky machines that make you feel like you are working out, but rather solid, compound movements with the heaviest weight you can manage.”

Any shaping of your body requires muscle:

  • It helps to burn calories
  • It keeps you functionally balanced
  • It makes you stronger, which allows you to do more.

If you don’t give your body a reason to keep the muscle you have, it will look to get rid of the muscle rather than fat. After all, you are not giving it a reason to stay and muscle is heavier than fat so it makes life easier if it goes. That’s why going out running or cycling is not ideal and whilst it might help you lose weight, really you want to lose fat. By working with weights you are telling your body it cannot afford to lose muscle, so it goes to the other energy store and burns stored fats. And ladies that does not mean you are going to bulk up. Lifting heavy does not mean big muscles and a bodybuilder physique.

Mark’s studio membership package is also deliberately designed to help people commit without tying them to a monthly membership, which so easily becomes a forgotten direct debit from their bank account. The pay-as-you-go system allows clients to book in advance before attending – and by booking in, they become accountable.

Mark says: “If you had a meeting scheduled at work you wouldn’t cancel just because you didn’t feel like it. So why should your fitness, health and training be any different? You have an appointment with yourself and we are encouraging you to keep it.”

Could this be the way to actually stick to your New Year’s Resolutions?

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