We all face that moment in time when we realize we need to get some exercise. Perhaps it is catching our sideways profile in the mirror, or nearly expiring while running for a bus, or perhaps trying on a favorite suit, only to realize the pants no longer fit.
For many, the grand challenge is creating that transition from "no exercise" to "regular exerciser" to "in training." One major sports brand heralded to us, "Just Do It!" I suppose if that worked, we would all be super fit and there would be a marathon every month somewhere near where you live.
Bottom line: It's hard to get started (again) and keep it going. There is the terrible discomfort of trying to exercise when your body has very little work capacity and then there are the resulting muscle soreness and possible skin irritations. Some of these can strike fear into the heart of any comfort seeking couch potato.
This might come as a shock, but the first step is making a decision. A decision is the starting point of anything great. But don't fool yourself. "I think I might start exercising" is not a decision. Something like, "I exercise regularly, at least four times per week, and I never miss" is more like a decision.
The next step is to get real with yourself as to where you really are. If you are over 35 and have not done anything for a while, it is good to check in with your physician before you start, just to make sure all the relevant parts are working ok and up for the challenge.
Some would say it could be a good idea to see a personal trainer to get a program and to have someone to go back to for ongoing advice. I reckon that is pretty good advice, but perhaps not completely essential.
Basically, you have to get moving and do something. You might decide on a walking program, a swim program or even join a gym or a yoga class. It has to be something. But how do you stick with it? The initial motivation is good for the first half dozen or so of workouts. Where does the drive come from after that?
A little battle starts to rage in your mind. The athlete wants to keep going. It sees a visual of what is possible. The couch potato wants to sleep in and take it easy. Which one wins? Unfortunately, it is often the coach potato.
My most successful tip in this case involves doing a little deal with yourself.
Let's just say, for the sake of this article, that the best exercise program for you is a walk/jog program in the early mornings. Many people find the early morning is the best time of day to exercise because when they have completed the session they can take their attention off it. Leaving it till later means it is always there in the background.
Exercising in the morning also means your will is up and running. You have overcome laziness and done something that you found hard. It sets you up for a positive day. Others believe that exercising at the end of the day relieves the tension of work. That is also true.
So here you are, the alarm has gone off and you are in shock. Surely there is something wrong with the alarm. Perhaps it went crazy in the night? It can't possibly be time to get up. You have not had enough sleep. You are a victim of some weird cosmic joke. Surely it is still only 3 a.m. But no, it is time to "rock and roll."
So here is what you can do. Get up and put on your training gear. Now, drink your morning water and whatever else you need to do and head out the door. Now go out onto the street and walk 200 paces away from home and stop. Now, once you get to this point, if you still cannot bear the thought of the exercise session and feel you really do need more sleep, then off you go. Back to bed.
But, read the last paragraph again. This decision cannot be made with your head on the pillow. You must be 200 paces away from home.
If going to the gym after work is your plan, and you get into the car at the end of the day feeling completely exhausted and devoid of any workout energy, then the same applies. Drive to the gym, park your car, get out and walk into the facility. Register at the front desk and walk into the locker room and put on your training gear. Get onto an exercise bike and pedal for three minutes. Then, and only then, if you still cannot face the workout today, you may go home.
What you will find is that getting to the starting line is most often the toughest part of a workout.
When you miss a morning session you may miss some of Mother Nature's most breathtaking gifts. This is a picture I took at Daytona Beach on a chilly February morning in 2015.