May 9th, 2011
Just Get Started!
Lounging on the sofa is fine from time to time, but if you're turning into a couch potato, it's time to get active. Just getting started is half the battle.
If you want to look fabulous, feel great, boost your immune system, lift your mood, stay youthful and sleep well, there's something you can do: exercise.
Some people believe that if you're not doing vigorous activity like running a marathon, why bother? Wrong! The fact is that any physical activity counts, whether it's walking, gardening, or playing in the yard with your kids. The key is to choose things you enjoy and keep moving.
I have to admit that I have my ups and downs with the exercise habit. So I know that it’s not the easiest habit for most people, and most people’s experiences consist of starting and stopping and starting again. Which is fine — don’t beat yourself up about it. The important thing is starting again.
So why do most people have trouble making exercise a regular habit? Well, there are probably a number of factors, but here are the main ones as I see it:
- Too difficult. People set out with a lot of ambition and enthusiasm, and start out with a big goal. “I’m going to go to the gym for an hour a day!” or “I’m going to run 30 minutes every day!” The problem is that the goal is too difficult to sustain for very long. You can do it for a few days, but you soon run out of energy, and it becomes a drag to do it.
- Too many goals. Often we set out to do too much. We want to run, and lift weights, and eat healthy, and quit sweets, and stop drinking soda. Well, those are multiple goals, and you cannot focus on the exercise habit if you’re trying to do all the others at the same time.
- Not enough motivation. It’s not a lack of discipline, it’s a lack of motivation. The most powerful motivators, in my experience, are logging your habit and public pressure.
Sticking with an exercise habit can be the hardest part. Here are 10 tips to keep you going:
1) Pick a reason that gets you going. Do you want to reduce your risk of disease, or to lose weight and look better? Perhaps more energy is your aim, or you love your family and want to be around longer. Whatever the reason, remind yourself often to keep you going strong.
2) Commit to consistency. Make a commitment to sticking with your plan. If you find yourself not able to meet your goals, change them so they’re easier.
3) Make a plan and set your goal. Here's where you plan a fitness routine that includes cardio, strength training and other exercises that you can do with or without weights.
4) Take baby steps. Don’t expect to turn into Superman overnight. Try for just 5 minutes a day. Over time you want to work your way up to at least half an hour. But it doesn't have to be a continuous 30 minutes. Shoot for doing something at least 3 days a week.
5) Pick an exercise that’s fun. Not all exercise happens in the gym. Like to walk? Shoot hoops? Swing the bat? Start with the fun stuff and work your way up.
6) Bring a friend, make it competitive. Having a workout partner is one of the most effective ways to be accountable and make your workout fun. Making it a competition is also great for motivation.
7) Keep a log of your activity—and post it in a public place or online, where others can also monitor your progress and cheer you on.
8) Never too tired. If you feel too tired to work out, don't let that stop you. Remember that physical activity actually boosts your energy, much more than lying around and eating snacks will!
9) Be comfortable. Make sure you have comfortable workout clothes and shoes. Sometimes it’s the obvious things that we overlook the most.
10) Reward yourself. Doing something consistently is an accomplishment, even if your actual task seems small and insignificant. If you’ve been exercising regularly, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for many jobs well done.
So, no more excuses. Just do it! Start the journey to a newer, fitter you today!
(From the articles, " Ready to start exercising?", "How to Start Exercising", and "4 Simple Steps to Start the Exercise Habit")