My Confession? I have never been a happy exerciser.
There, I’ve said it.
I hate going out in the cold and rain. I hate getting all sweaty and puffing and panting. And I’d rather lie on the sofa with a glass of red wine than go out for a country walk.
That’s my big, dark secret – after all, maybe you’d expect better from a Weight Loss, Health and Fitness coach wouldn’t you?
Or maybe not…
You see I love the feeling of being on top of the world, full of energy, strong, fit and healthy that exercise and healthy living in general do for me. That means I have to motivate myself with every trick in the book to achieve what I want to achieve. And I am constantly looking for new ways to get myself to stay active and “Just Do It”. I also know every excuse my clients will use – because quite honestly I’ve used them all myself at one time or another. I know how to deal with every obstacle.
If you are made of sterner stuff and love nothing better than spending hours in the gym, you may want to learn from someone who is more naturally enthusiastic about it all – I won’t hold it against you 🙂 Just be aware, I am not going to be giving you hints on how to spend half your day working your abs to perfection.
Still, you may find a useful tip or 5 here for those days when you are less than enthusiastic…
Sometimes the simplest tips can make a difference to your fitness levels and they are so easy to implement.
One for today ….
Whenever you walk anywhere by yourself why not listen to some up beat fast music you love?
You’ll naturally walk faster – your steps will keep up with the fast beat of the music and you’ll enjoy your walk more too. Extra cardio exercise in your day without trying!
Of course, all this depends on being able to hear your music above the traffic without deafening yourself – not always an option in the rush hour around here but ok most of the time 🙂
You can see the insecure gym-goers a mile off – taking more notice of what everyone else is doing, how much weight they are shifting, how fast they are going on the treadmill, rather than focusing on getting on with their workout.
But the thing is, bodies are all different so there’s no point comparing yourself to others even if you are doing the same routines or trying to achieve the same goal.
The only thing which counts is that you are making a consistent effort with your workouts. If you make the effort and follow a good program you will see progress in your body – you will be getting fitter, leaner, stronger and more flexible day after day.
It takes motivation to keep going when the going gets tough – to turn up and “just do it” as the saying goes when you are tired or busy or just don’t feel like it.
The best way to keep up your motivation is by monitoring your progress. Make notes on every workout and what you achieved in a fitness log and you’ll see that your consistent effort is giving you results. The very worst way to keep motivated is to continually check your progress against Mr or Mrs Universe at the gym.
There will always be someone better (or worse) than you, but any comparison other than a comparison of last week’s, last month’s or last year’s with today is totally worthless to you.
You know fitness is for real bodies which have to do real tasks The machines at the gym are created to help you but they are rarely as effective as doing things under your own steam.
Anyone who has ever run a 5K or 10K distance outside will tell you that it’s a very different experience from going the same distance on a treadmill – even if you use a program designed to add variety.
Outside you have to contend with the weather, uneven road surfaces, hills, pedestrians, dogs and traffic so an indoor run is often more appealing.But the very fact that you are dealing with all those things gives you a better, more natural workout.
Fair enough, don’t run in conditions or areas which are actually dangerous but whenever you can safely do so, take your workout outside the gym and experience the real thing. There’s no workout like it.
And the same goes for weights at the gym.
Don’t always use those machines which are designed to isolate one muscle group – you know the kind that are meant for those of us who can’t be trusted to deal with real weights – the kind with stacked weights and a pin that varies the amount of resistance.
You get much better exercise which will make you fitter for the world we live in by doing real movements such as squats and lunges for your lower body and barbell or dumbbell presses for your upper body. With these kinds of movements you develop better functional strength and stability in your key muscles and that helps prevent injury during sport and everyday life.
21 days to Form a Habit?
They say that it takes at least 21 days of consistent action to form a new habit. So, if you want to make fitness a habit in your life, you’ve got to be committed for at least that period of time before the habit becomes just “what you do”.
Many people know about the 21 day theory, but did you also know that if you fail to carry out your habit at any point within those 21 days you have to go right back to the beginning? You can’t just start counting where you left off.
Knowing that fact may be just enough to keep you going through a rough patch and avoid sabotaging your efforts in the early days.
Also, don’t rely on the 21 day rule. You may find that it takes you a bit longer than 21 days to make a fitness program part of your life (21 days is just the average) so you may want to focus on your new habit for 30 days to avoid sabotaging yourself in that doubtful period between 21 and 30 days.
30 Day Fitness Experiment
Any new fitness habit is a good case for a 30 Day trial which personal development writer Steve Pavlina recommends. He likes to try out many new things for length of time and then decide whether they are worth continuing with. (His current 30 day experiment is eating a totally raw food diet).
It’s a helpful concept because it means you can safely give up any habit which does not suit you without feeling like a failure – it was simply the end of the experiment and you decided to try something else instead.
With any new fitness habit or program this makes sense because by the time you get to 30 days you
a) will probably be seeing some results (good or bad)
b) have given it a fair shot
c) are seeing whether the “experiment” will slip easily into your lifestyle.
One Small Fitness Habit at a Time
My other plea is for you to not take on too much and set yourself up for failure. Try a tiny habit at first. Self-discipline is like a muscle that has to be exercised.
Give yourself an easy load to start with – say 10 minutes of exercise a day rather than an all out gym routine 5 times a week. If you have the discipline to manage 10 minutes a day you will probably find that you feel so good you will want to do more. But if you fail at the much harder goal it makes it so much more difficult to try again in the future and your self-esteem will take a bashing it can do without.
Do what you know you will succeed with and build on that.
Everyone has the exercises they like doing and ones they don’t. And most people have a stronger side and a weaker side.
Whatever you do, don’t neglect to do the exercises you don’t like doing or do more reps on the side that’s stronger or more flexible.
You’ll end up out of balance. (Think Charles Atlas shoulders and Mr Bean legs!)
You have to strengthen and stretch all muscle groups on both sides to get a balanced symmetrical physique.
Working to make all parts of your body in balance will also help prevent the poor posture, tears and muscle strains caused by having some body parts weaker than others.
It will be enough for most of us just to remember not to neglect the areas we don’t like working on.
For those looking to get closer to perfection, get a program which trains for every range and angle of movement in every part of your body and which balances the various movements in equal measure.
Creating a great body takes a lot of self discipline. If you have the attitude that it doesn’t matter if you can’t be bothered to do your scheduled workout one day, you’ll quickly find that another time a day becomes a week and a week a month.
You see, you’re either disciplined and determined or you’re not.
Every missed workout feeds your self image with the idea that you’re someone who can’t stick to a simple program, even a program that will benefit you so much.
On the other hand, every time you keep to your workout schedule your self image and esteem gets a boost – you are someone who can be relied on.
Sticking to your program helps reinforce all those good feelings you get from working out. It becomes a positive cycle of reinforcement leading to more discipline and more of the results you are seeking from exercise – all of which will continue to keep you motivated for the long haul.
Muscle movement by muscle movement, step by step, workout by workout you will be reaching your goals.
So try not to miss even one workout unless you have no choice whatsoever. It’s those “Can’t be bothered” “Too busy” “Don’t have time” excuses which will eat up your motivation and self-esteem not the “I had to take my sick child to hospital so I couldn’t get to the gym” type real reasons for missing a session.
For all this to make any difference at all you actually have to have a fitness program to follow (see Fitness Tip 1 : Have a Plan) – otherwise you’re just drifting and then it really doesn’t matter whether you turn up or not.