It's the middle of January and I'll bet most of us have either not started or already abandoned our New Year's resolutions. New Year's resolutions seem to be hard to keep. Maybe it's because we ask too much of ourselves.
Take fitness resolutions for instance. Ever start a exercise program in the New Year, maybe this year, only to quit after a couple of weeks?
Me too! Why is exercise so hard to stick with?
I've been teaching exercise for 30 years and the reason I've heard most often from my students is, it's too hard. You want to do it. You know fitness equals longevity.
You know you should do it. You know you have to do it, but you hate it. It's not fun. You push yourself for a couple of weeks and then you can't do it any more, so you quit. You've tried this a bunch of times over the years and quit every time. Sound familiar? Why do so many of us get stuck in that cycle of fitness failure, and how can we break that cycle?
I've given this a lot of thought over the years, and I've developed a structure that works for most of my clients. I'm happy to share it with you.
Here are some bullet points
· Exercise shouldn't feel like getting your teeth drilled! Don't do anything you hate because you think you should. I think that's an express ticket to Quitsville. Exercise should be a pleasure, not a chore. If it feels good today, you'll want to get up and do it again tomorrow. Embrace the movement experience. Get up and do a couple of minutes of limbering and stretching or take a short easy walk.
Here are a couple of videos to help get you started.
Be conscious of how good it feels while you're moving and how nice it feels afterwards. Find a time in the day when you can do it daily. I like mornings, but any time that works is fine.
-- Recognize where you are now and adjust your immediate expectations accordingly. Ease in to exercise. Remember that you quit last time because you pushed it and it was no fun. You'll need to craft a program for yourself that starts you where you are and builds you up to where you want to go in easily doable steps. Set readily attainable very short-term goals like "I'm going to move three days this week for five minutes." At the end of the week you can look back and say: " I just went from not exercising to exercising three times a week."
-- Trust the process. It doesn't matter if you exercise for five minutes each day. The week before last you did nothing. Continue to set these easily attainable short-term goals forever. Find activities you like. Keep it pleasant and you'll want more. Leave your body wanting more every time you exercise.
-- Progress at your own pace. You're on nobody's timetable but your own. Don't give in to peer pressure, however subtle, and forget those TV ads for instant success. My rule of thumb for progress is this: add a little more only when it gets too easy, not because it's been a week and you feel like it's time to do more.
-- Be patient. That sounds pretty darn counter intuitive I know. I think today's society wants instant gratification and immediate success. Sorry, not going to happen if you're looking at success as immediately achieving your ultimate goal. That's where adjusting your immediate expectations comes in. You probably won't be able to run a marathon right away. And, those high-intensity, total immersion, 12-weeks-to-a-Greek-body-if-you-don't-die-trying programs probably won't work for you either. Not yet.
That's the plan. It's a simple plan. It takes longer to get there, but it's a pleasant journey, not a grunt. Most importantly, it's sustainable for a lifetime. So hop on the slow train and take it as far as you want. I think it might be your ticket to Successville.