You are totally loving your workouts, right?
OK, I’ll admit it, loving exercise is a taste that must be acquired… For most of us, exercise is more a “mind over matter” thing than something we can’t wait to get to. But here are some ideas to make it more “fun!”
Begin with a Time Habit:
Taking time out to exercise is probably the biggest challenge you face just because life happens, and everything else seems to take priority. Exercise becomes a bonus even though it really isn’t! So, before you buy the shoes and decide what you will do, start by practicing setting time aside:
~30 minutes, at least three times a week
~you aren’t allowed to use the time for anything else; how weird is that? I know. But try it anyway. Jst sit somewhere and think—don’t answer the phone, don’t check your emails, don’t write or put stuff away; just think about exercise! Ask yourself these questions: could I be walking? Marching in place in front of the television? Going to the gym or doing Pilates at home? What would I enjoy? What would feel right? Can you imagine yourself doing it? How does it feel while you do it? How does it feel when you are done? Are you exercising alone or with friends? What are you doing? Keep playing this little game until you feel ready to move on.
Making the first move!
Your mind is set now, so it is time to substitute thinking with the real thing. Choose what you think you will love, whether it is exercising alone at home or outside, or going to a gym, or getting together with a girlfriend, and just begin: Research online (or call me) and find the right kind of DVDs to work out at home, or go sign up at the gym for classes or a personal trainer, or go buy a pedometer and call your friend to set up your first walk together. Making the first gesture is super important, it is putting your actions to your mental commitment. Don’t worry about the rest, just make the first move.
Start for real!
Now that you have overcome the time and mind obstacles, get to it. Have fun experimenting. Don’t worry about intensity or results, just move—any activity that gets your heart rate up and body moving is a winner. Commit to yourself to not back down for at least three weeks. Thirty minutes three times a week for three weeks. Feasable, right?
Just keep going!
After the three weeks, you have established a habit. And you might already notice some positive changes. Maybe more health, more energy, or amybe you are starting to like a bit more what you see in the mirror and on the scale. You will have some great days where you exercise more, and some bad days when you just walk on the treadmill. Just don’t go below your minimum, that is your commitment to yourself.
Notice the Benefits
Notice how exercise makes you feel: do you feel sharper, less stressed, less tired? Do you notice that your clothes are fitting better? Your tummy sticks out a bit less? The more you understand the immediate benefits, the more you will want to keep going. I call it the avalanche effect. Enjoy the changes you notice: weight loss, muscle gain, increased flexibility, increased ability to deal with stressful situations, improved posture, less stiffness, more cardiovascular ability to go up and down the stairs? More awareness of your muscles? Appreciation for the marvelous machine that your body is?
As you become more involved with your exercise, you might want to give yourself more specific goals, or more challenging ones than just sticking to the routine—which is really, really great! But what do you see in the future? Start dreaming, and let yourself imagine what you can have.
Now that you have established an exercise habit with weekly minimums and you are starting to like it (!), you can begin to experiment with intensity: sign up for a 5K and train for it, start using machines at the gym, work out with a trainer for a few weeks to learn new routines, work out with a more experienced friend who can guide you, try a new workout video, play with the different settings on the elliptical or treadmill, add intensity intervals to your workouts…
Remember… Your first goal was to learn to enjoy exercise and maintaining your minimum sessions per week. How fast you run or how much you can lift doesn’t really matter if you do not stick with exercising at least three times a week. So… congratulate yourself and keep going, my friend!