If I sat down with you and asked you about exercise, you could probably tell me how its good for you and a lot of the benefits associated with it. If you are like most people though, you do not exercise regularly. I don’t say this for you to feel bad, because that is true for most people. I’m sure you want a more active lifestyle. I’m sure you want to be outdoors more often, and feel fitter and more healthy. The only problem is that you are so busy. There’s work, looking after your family and then fitting in a social life. It feels as if there just is no time for anything else.
How can anyone reasonably expect to squeeze in time for exercising on a regular basis?
A lot of people would say ‘will power’. That you’ve got to want it bad enough. And they’ll bring out the old saying “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” No matter how pumped up you get over something because of somebody else, we both know that the motivation is going to dry up because you are trying to get fit, or get healthier for someone else. It just doesn’t work. And the worse thing is that we really beat each other up for not following through.
In a lot of ways, it’s a very similar syndrome to the so-called ‘yo-yo’ dieter.
So, if getting all pumped-up initially about a program is not going to last, what can you do?
Well, I believe that you can still use that motto: “where there’s a will, there’ s a way,” but with a twist.
Rather than starting an exercise regime because its meant to be great for you, find an exercise activity that naturally is a good fit with your interest and hobbies, or with other parts of your life. What I mean is that, step back a bit, and don’t start exercising for exercising sakes.
If you work in sales, it is commonly taught that ‘people buy for emotional reasons, not for logical ones’, and the same thing applies here. Instead of trying to sell yourself on an exercise program because it will give this advantage and that advantage, step back, and think about what automatically motivates you.
If there was a sport you used to love to play, but don’t really play it much anymore, there’s an obvious opportunity. Maybe its time to dust off your old playing gear, join up a local club and sign up for the next season. Sure you might feel you are not fit enough, but you aren’t going to get fit by sitting at home.
I had a friend who loved to play soccer but didn’t join a club for a couple of years because he thought he carried too much weight. He thought he’d wait until he lost some weight before he signed up, but of course he never lost that weight – well not until he actually did sign up and was exercising regularly. That’s because he didn’t need to be motivated to go jogging anymore, or to make training. He loved it, so he was there exercising away, keener than ever. He had sold himself on why he should do it. If you had asked him to come jogging with you when he wasn’t playing soccer, there’s no way he’d come, but it all changed when he took the extra step.
So what if you are someone who doesn’t really care about any particular sport, or activity that requires exercise?
How about engaging into the influence your social network has over you. If you are about to embark on an exercise program, try and get a friend to pick one out with you. You’ll motivate each other, have some friendly competition to keep each other at your best and encourage each other when you need it. If you don’t think you have a friend that might be interested, there’s options for you too. You can join your local jogging club for instance. It’s a great way to meet new people and enjoy the exercise, without having to toil through it yourself.
The basic idea is that you want to create an environment for yourself where you actually look forward to exercising. If you can find an activity that you love doing, especially with other people, then you’ll find that it is much easier to stick to an exercise program than you ever thought before. That’s the easy way to make this a habit.