The most interesting thing about exercise is most of us chronically ignore it till it becomes an acute need. Something that you need to do to get back to a healthier version of yourself, not something you keep doing to get the very best out of yourself. For most of us exercise is a road to recovery, not the start.
As a result, as we start the road to recovery there is a lot of quitting to contend with. Many moments where it seems the objective is insurmountable or nothing is changing. It’s like looking to clear a forest with a machete. You get excited after you have cleared a path only to realize you have an entire forest ahead of you.
So how do you, the machete wielder keep going? How do you keep clearing the forest section by section and not get demoralized by what’s ahead? How do you turn the remaining forest into an exciting challenge rather than a daunting task? Let’s keep reading.
Love for your body
If I were to ask you to name ten parts of your body you find irresistibly beautiful, how many would you get to? In fact, would you find this a bizarre task? A task you have never done and hence don’t know where to start?
Herein lies the secret. We don’t spend enough time appreciating our bodies. We don’t spend enough time appreciating the detail of our beings. There is so much beauty to find. In fact, comparatively speaking we are like planet Earth. With more wonders than we have found out about ourselves. So take time, employ yourself to be your on Natgeo and find your pyramids.
If you can’t appreciate the only thing you have dominion over then what tells you, you can work to improve it? The reason why most of us turn to exercise is that there is something about our bodies we don’t like. The sad reality is, rejection is the worst motivator. It comes from a want to escape from your current self. Yet we all know you can’t leave somewhere you have never lived.
So instead of starting an exercise regimen in January 2021 do a 30-day challenge of 30 things I find irresistibly attractive about my body. So that when you move from that to the gym your focus is not on looking better. Your focus is on ensuring that you are healthy so that you can appreciate those 30 things as you age.
Results over experience
If you found someone who was from doing 50 pushups what do you think they will be most thrilled about? Well, doing 50 push-ups! That’s huge! You would be dead wrong. Though the results might make you feel good there is something about the experience of exercise. There is something about going again even when you think you can’t. Willing your arms to lift your torso up after 49 successful lifts.
When you work out for long enough you realize that it’s the experience over results every day. Losing weight does not convince you to keep running, it’s the runner’s high you experience after running that keeps you. That inner body vibrance. That is what keeps fit people going to the gym. You miss the experience of vibration not the results.
From a measurement perspective, a great example would be instead of measuring your weight every week you focus on how many balanced diet meals you took. You focus on how many more reps you took this week more than last week. This helps you be more behavior outlined than outcome aligned.
Which is good for you as by the end of the week your question to yourself would be, “Was I the person I wanted to be?” Rather than, “ Did I lose the kilograms I needed to lose?” If you don’t lose you tend to get discouraged while if you access who you were this week you tend to ask yourself what more can I do? Hence the parts of the forest that are yet to be cleared are more likely to be cleared.
So yes, you will enroll in a gym membership wanting to lose weight, what will keep you is when you connect to the feeling of the experience. So much so that when you hit your weight loss target you actually don’t know the exact date and time. In fact, you might even surpass your goals!
Who tells you to start exercising?
If it is a doctor it comes from a point where you probably are unhealthy. As a result, you need to make changes so that you don’t suffer lifestyle diseases. The challenge with this though is that the emotional motivation is fear. The sad thing about fear is that it comes post bad choices not in the heat of them. Fear is more linked to regret than it is linked to discipline. You will feel like you are being asked to live a different life. This may lead to feelings of loss, creating a poor emotional environment for you to start, and even when you do if you hit the goals there is no reason to keep going.
When all your Instagram influencers seem to have sat down and cooked up a scheme to get you in the gym. Everywhere you go everyone seems to be doing squats. You start to wonder why is it that you can’t make the right choices for yourself yet the whole world is doing it. Comparison reels you in. The next thing you know is that you have purchased fitness apparel from one of the influencers. Yes, you do look good when you wear them. The sports bra is comfortable. The thing no one told you, the experience itself is all about you. No one can take a push up on your behalf.
Who should you look to tell you to start exercising? Talk to 80 year old you. 80 year old you will thank you for the hospital bills you saved. 80 year old you will thank you for how everyone compliments how well you have aged. 80 year old you will thank you for how much you can play with your grandchildren. 80 year old you will thank you when you get the best grandparent t-shirt from your entire family because you are always there. Listen to 80 year old you, they know best!
How do you start?
Most of us love starting hard. We start with an exercise level of about 5 years of workouts. We want quick results. We want achievement. We want body gains and our bodies to be body goals. In regards to body goals, it torments you that when you tell anyone you have been going to the gym and they look at you quizzically. ‘Where are the gains?’Is the question on their brows. In terms of starting fast, after a day of realizing how hard it actually is do the reps you feel like this was not meant for you. Everyone else does it so easily, exercise is just not my thing.
To keep going focus on growth over success. Instead of saying I want to start doing 10 press-ups on my first day say I want to start and see my level. Then every day I will keep adding one new rep. So that every week you are doing a 4 rep increase. Your body and mind are built for growth, as a result, everything, even your motivation to keep going will respond to it.
Let us start exercise with love of body and growth. Experience the feeling of exercise and have that keep us going. Measure our behaviors rather than our results. Listen to our 80-year-old self and pay him homage every time you do that press up. Every time you eat the right foods. Every time you go out for a run!