Many people have fallen off the train to physical fitness. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’ve been on the train (all aboard in January, right?) and fallen off multiple times. You are frustrated. It wasn’t your body that gave out on you though. Oh sure, you might have told yourself that your knee or back derailed your ride to fitness, but you know the truth: You chose to jump off the train. Maybe your results weren’t coming fast enough, maybe it was too hard, you were doing the wrong exercises, or other activities got in the way. There are a million excuses and yours is not new.
News Flash: Getting fit is hard. So is paying for medications, feeling stiff, weak, tired, and not being able to do the things you once did (or have always wanted to do). You choose. #toughlove
Getting fit (and staying fit) is a mental game more than a physical one. Most people approach fitness the wrong way, and it leads to failure. A mindset shift about fitness is required. Fitness isn’t a project with a defined start and end date. There is no “arrival.” There’s no retirement. Fitness is a process – a healthy living journey that never ends. Wrap your mind around the reality that you need to pursue a lifestyle of healthy habits and read on for more helpful tips to master the mental side of getting fit.
Set mindful goals
Set small reasonable goals and remember to focus on the process. Expect more internal negative feedback at the start than positive. You will be sore, and maybe hungry. You might get grumpy and want to quit. Health benefits are delayed for a while – longer than the instant gratification we all expect. Recognize that everyone struggles with new routine. Get used to being uncomfortable and know that it will be worth it if you don’t give up.
Don’t exercise – train
Exercising for the sake of exercising is terrible. We’re like a hamster on his wheel, mindlessly moving and loathing every minute of it. Kinda like how I feel about treadmills. Exercise on purpose. Train for something. Follow a plan or program. Sign up for a race or fitness event. When you finish, sign up for another one. Remember your driving force behind your fitness journey. Why are you really trying to get fit? How will you feel? What will you be able to do?
Find other people to motivate you. Join a club or challenge group. Find a workout partner. Coach others. I have found the mutual accountability in helping others to be an awesome way to keep momentum in my healthy living journey. There is great power in being part of a group.
Change your Habits
Have you heard of Habit Stacking? It’s where you stack your new healthy habit on top of something you already do every day to help ensure you get it done. Plan ahead. Remove as much friction between you and the workout as possible. Set aside time in your calendar like any other meeting or appointment. Set your gear out the night before. Following a plan ensures you don’t show up to the gym with no idea how to maximize your results. We love working out at home because it eliminates so many of the common obstacles.
You are what you eat, you are what you do – not what you say you do. Talk to yourself and about yourself in a positive voice. “I am strong. I am healthy. I’m taking this time for me so I can be my best for everyone else.” You are a responsible person so you go to work every day. You don’t just skip work cuz you don’t feel like it. Same with your healthy habits. You are an active person, you are on a mission to be the best version of yourself, so you don’t ditch your program/ workout commitments.
Once you get on track, you love how you feel, you’re making progress, etc. you won’t want to stop. You still must listen to your body and rest. Give your body a chance to recover. But don’t use rest as an excuse to jump off the train. You can still eat right and do lower impact activity.
Change your routine as you age
Fitness isn’t a goal, it’s a lifelong process. It will change as you age. Adapt. Mix up your program. Avoid comparison with your younger self. Never quit. Find the activities that suit you. You may lose some speed and strength over time, but far slower than you would if you sat idle telling yourself you are too old or fat to do anything. Get moving. Conquer your mind. Do your thing. Press on!