Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How To Start Getting In Shape

We have all likely come across information, via some media outlet, whether it be television, internet, magazines, etc. on how to eat well, lose weight, and achieve our physical fitness goals. In fact, our media is saturated with health tips and advice. Yet, most of us struggle to adopt the lifestyle habits that are conducive to achieving optimal health. 

At a time in human history when we have more information at our fingertips than was even conceivable just a few decades ago, why is it that many of us have still not solved the issues related to our physical health?

I believe that our shortcomings are not a result of lack of advice or information. Most of us already know WHAT to do, the problem is that we fail to do it.

We all know that in order to lose weight we need to eat well and exercise. So why aren't we all eating healthy diets and exercising daily? Because we are human. We are not robots that can be easily programmed to operate in a specified way.

For me, physical fitness tends to come in waves. I get really motivated for a few months and I eat well, exercise and lose weight. Then the pendulum swings to the other direction and I go right back to a sedentary lifestyle coupled with poor eating habits.

Then, when the clothes start getting tighter and I begin to realize that I want to get back in shape, my initial tendency is to exhaustively research exercise programs and diets. I convince myself that I will be healthy once I figure out how to be healthy.

The truth is, I already know how to lose weight. There is no magic formula. I just need to get exercising, cut out the junk food and replace it with healthier options. Telling myself that it is a lack of knowledge is nothing more than a form of self-deception to aid in procrastinating the inevitable discomfort of breaking unhealthy habits.

Developing a sophisticated theory of healthy living is insufficient unless the theory is transferred into application.

So, I already know what to do. . . the question is, how do I get off of my butt and start doing it?

The answer: START SMALL

Sometimes our physical fitness goals can feel like a giant mountain looming in the distance. From the bottom of the mountain looking up to the peak, it can feel discouraging if not altogether impossible to get there. This discouragement can prevent us from ever taking the first step.

But remember: Rome was not built in a day.

I love immediate gratification as much as anybody. But any goal worth achieving is going to take time and patience. It is natural to start an exercise regimen and diet with a ton of intensity. We have all heard the phrase: "No pain no gain." The logic would follow that the harder I push myself the quicker the results will come. This is true. However, if you push yourself too hard in the beginning, you are going to lose your motivation. It is difficult to sustain. Therefore, I would suggest substituting intensity for consistency.

I have seen it repeatedly not only in my life but in the lives of those around me. We get extremely motivated to get back into shape and we shoot out of the gates at full speed. Then, we wake up the next day sore and fatigued and decide it is too much work to endure.

Let me give you an example of using the alternative approach of starting small.
Several years ago I was really out of shape. I was overweight and miserable. I decided that enough was enough and that I needed to start taking care of myself. So I got on the treadmill and jogged (slowly) for 1 entire minute. And that was it! That was my entire workout for the day.

Now, you may be thinking that it was a complete waste of time. And you know what, you might be right. Was that one minute of slow jogging going to transform my body that day? Absolutely not. But did I successfully complete the workout? Absolutely. Did I wake up sore the next day? Nope. Did I have the motivation and confidence to repeat the exercise the following day? You bet!

So the next day I got back onto the treadmill and ran for another minute. I did this every day for a week or two. Then, one day, I decided to go two minutes. Then, eventually, three minutes. Slowly, over time, I built a habit by being consistent. The intensity was low, but because of that I was able to sustain my motivation. I knew that developing the habit would be most beneficial in the long run.

Over time I slowly and consistently built up my confidence and endurance. 8 months after that first day on the treadmill I ran and successfully completed my first marathon.

Me posing with my dog after the marathon

In the spirit of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race. Consistency is the key. And the key to sustaining the motivation to be consistent is by starting small and gradually building over time. Remember, a little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing! And if you climb a little each day, then one day you will reach the peak of the mountain!

In the comment section below, what helps you get motivated to workout and eat well?

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed visiting your blog! I am your newest follower. I hope you can stop by my blog soon:)


    Mrs. B


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