Beginning a fitness journey can be a daunting task. You know and heard that it’s good for you and the benefits far outweigh any negatives associated with it. Yet there’s always that excuse or bit of reservation for beginning or continuing the journey. I’m not here to sugar coat this. For one, the journey is not easy. It requires a lot more than just going through the motions. Secondly, it’s a lifestyle – not just an activity, and finally, despite all the recommendations it all really boils down to what’s best for you. Even with all of the science and research that supports the benefits of a fitness journey, there are just some things that you need to come to expect that are experienced by everyone in their journey, regardless of the goal.
You Need to Define Your “Why”
This has to be the first and let me be clear – this does not mean setting a goal. Why do you exercise? Health reasons? Lose weight? Perform better in a sport or activity? More energy? Stress relief? Look better naked? Saying all the above is incorrect. Saying one or more of those is also incorrect. You need to define and focus on your “why”. Then and only then is it plausible that you may achieve some of those other benefits. The reason the “why” is so important is that it puts a laser focus on ALL of your choices, not just when it’s convenient or appropriate. Anything other than for yourself will not stand the test of time.
Somedays It Just Won’t Happen
News flash – not everyone is motivated all the time. As active as I am and as much as I know, trust me; there are days I would like to do nothing more than lay in a hammock all day long. You won’t always be motivated and that’s perfectly normal. You need to understand and appreciate that motivation is not what carries you through this journey. You have to embrace the process and be consistent. Consistently making excuses is not a good habit to long term success; you’re kidding no one but yourself. Even on those days when you just aren’t feeling it, do something active anyway. Sometimes even something can be better than nothing.
Fitness Is Not Linear
Progress would be great if everything was always on the up but it’s not. Does your stock portfolio always progress by going up? Fitness is measured on a continuum with peaks and valleys. There will be periods of great progress and periods of slow or stagnant progress. Even the top athletes of the world cycle their training so as not always to feel as if they’re hitting the accelerator 24/7/365. If you’re consistent with your exercise, learn the difference between slow progress and stagnation. Don’t keep doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result
Don’t Compare Apples to Oranges
One of the worst things that you can do as you go about this journey is compare yourself to others. There will always be someone out there who is fitter than you, leaner than you, stronger than you, and so forth. Don’t pay attention to them. What works for some may or may not work for you. This is your journey so the only person you need to worry about is yourself. The only comparison you ever need to make is are you better than you were yesterday.
Don’t Be a Hero
Fitness is not a competition. In a society full of ego and judging it’s easy to get sucked into a battle that either you have no place being in or constantly fight with no ammunition. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the great changes that are taking place, and you might think that more must be better. Unfortunately, that usually leads to slowed progress, burnout, illness or injury. No one gets an award for doing multiple workouts a day, multiple times per week. Appreciate that rest is not a sign of weakness; it is a vital component of process.
Nothing Wrong With Having Fun
It’s called “working out” for a reason but the minute it starts to be more like work, fitness is lost. When I’m speaking to groups I will ask how many people brush their teeth. Without a doubt everyone’s hand goes up. When I ask how many people enjoy brushing their teeth, I’ll be lucky if two hands go up. The point of this is to show that most people brush their teeth because they know of the dental and overall health benefits to doing so despite not enjoying the process. Exercise has tremendous benefits but unlike brushing your teeth, you have numerous ways to enjoy that process. Find something that brings you an inner sense of joy—something that makes you feel alive when you do it, and that’ll be the workout that changes the way you view fitness. When you enjoy the activity, it won’t feel like work and you’ll naturally want to exercise regularly.
Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.