In terms of things that will impede or even reverse your progress, missing exercises is second only to poor diet. Consistent regular exercise is necessary for good health, flexibility, and the self-confidence you get from sticking to a normal exercise routine and the body you want. There is no way around this, and despite the manufacturers’ claims of the genuine product “Exercise In a Bottle,” you cannot purchase Exercise in a Bottle or any other form. It’s something you get to do in your free time.
I didn’t grow up with an active lifestyle. Learning to become someone who virtually NEVER misses a workout, despite whatever is going on in life, was one of the most crucial changes I made in my path from obese (I had almost a 40-inch waist) to fit (single-digit body fat). It took me nearly ten years to make the change. Maybe the lessons I’ve learned from my own experience and the experiences of dozens of clients might help you make the exact change in less than a decade. Those who did not make the trip included those who were later fired.
First, think in the long run; your actions today will have lasting consequences for the rest of your life. What you’ve done or not done over the last few weeks, months, and years has led to the physique you have right now. Don’t kid yourself about the consequences of your actions; if you skip workouts or rarely exercise, you will likely find yourself: a) overweight, b) in less-than-ideal health, and c) in the hospital due to the complications of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a host of other diseases and conditions.
Consider the big picture; short-term ease will lead to significant, long-term anguish, whereas the current challenge will pay off in the long run.
Make a new rule Everyone has unspoken rules they go by, such as “I don’t listen to Britney Spears or read about her in the tabloids,” “I wear clothes in public,” and “I don’t cheat on my wife,” among many more. This one’s new: “I NEVER MISS WORKOUTS unless I’m sick or injured, and working out will prevent me from fully recovering.” You may now cease reading this article. Everything else in this essay is guidance on making that law more user-friendly.
Stop making lame excuses: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice logs 24,000 monthly air miles and still goes to the gym 6–9 times weekly, seldom missing a session. Even though she is in a different time zone virtually every day and her life has no “normal order,” she manages to achieve this. Seriously, what are you trying to make up?
You can rationalize your way out of doing what you should be, making up reasonable excuses, like releasing the pressure from a pressure cooker. In YOUR mind, at least, coming up with an excuse justifies skipping a workout. That doesn’t conform to your new criteria. Feeling angry here is okay; you can be displeased with your actions without criticizing yourself. Make it satisfactory, and you won’t have to adjust. You’re not going to start exercising now. You’ll be motivated to find a method to get it done if you resist the urge to relieve the stress by making excuses.
Fourth, prioritize spending time with God, who should be your priority, even if it means telling your boss you can’t make it to work today. No, not if you value your career. Is it possible to convince one’s body that it is too hectic to go to the gym? Certainly not if you value your health or your abs.
You may convince yourself you can’t devote three hours a week to physical activity, but the reality is otherwise. There are seven days in a week and 168 total hours in a week. As a result, three is less than 168 for those of you who struggled in arithmetic class. Three is less than 2% of your 168-hour workweek. The issue is not that you lack time to do something; instead, you fail to set aside that time in advance.
When you strip away the sentiments and justifications, the problem is reduced to its bare essentials. As for the fix: Sit down with your calendar at the start of the week and schedule at least three appointments for each workout (if you don’t have a calendar, acquire one; keeping up mentally will never work). Then, when something comes up (and it will), prioritize your workout by saying “no” to the distraction. If anyone were to inquire, you’d explain that you must attend a meeting crucial to your future success. It’s your time and nobody else’s concern who you choose to schedule an appointment with. Like before, this becomes a piece of cake when you ignore your feelings, stop making excuses, and focus on the facts.
There are just two conceivable outcomes about your workouts: either it occurred or it did not. Try is not an option. You have no justification for doing this. Only action or inaction is possible. By keeping this in mind, you may avoid many discussions on why it’s OK to not and instead focus on HOW to accomplish your goals.
Fifth, make a simple strategy; this is where the magic occurs. It’s not uncommon for people to declare they want to “work out” to improve their health and fitness. They sign up for a gym membership and start going there for no apparent reason. Then, return in a day or two and perform further arbitrary actions… They’ll do this for a week or two, maybe a month or two, and then give up.
There was a triumvirate of occurrences: They either (A) gave up because they felt like they were wasting their time in the gym and (B) started to feel horrible about themselves because of their lack of (or inability to) exercise.
You have an idiot for a client if you try to represent yourself in court, as the adage goes. You are not a fitness guru but a teacher, rocket scientist, doctor, event coordinator, certified public accountant, etc. It’s unsurprising if you don’t see results from the workouts you create (or make up on the spot). You have expertise in something else, but not this; give it five to ten years and $50,000 to $100,000, and you might get somewhere.
Nothing is more disheartening than sincerely attempting something and failing miserably. If you want your efforts to pay off, you need a real strategy and authentic coaching from a real professional who can help you objectively track your improvement. Positive outcomes are highly inspiring. Failure to achieve goals is disheartening. Suppose you’re a regular at the gym. In that case, you’ve probably observed that most people there, particularly those who work with the “trainer” shirts, maintain very consistent appearances year after year.
The new adage that “the guy in the ‘trainer’ shirt at your local gym (or national gym chain) is also an idiot” is related to this. Picking the right people to assist you with your plan is crucial. I got my sister’s dog certified as a personal trainer last year, so the shirt and the certification are worthless. Almost all personal trainers (99.5–99.9%) are unqualified and produce mediocre results.
B) It’s easy to beat yourself up no matter how hard you try if you have no clear idea of what defines “success” or compliance. Is that what people mean when they say things like, “I’m going to start working out” or “I’m going to get in shape”? Precisely what do they intend, if anything?
You must have measurable, attainable, and quantifiable goals to track your success. You also need a strategy that details your steps to reach your objective. How many days a week do you put in at the gym? How long is your typical workout? 45, 60, or 75 minutes? In that hour, how are you spending your time? It would be best to have a severe strategy laying out your objectives.
This is how success is measured: three times a week, for an hour each time (and you can get a lot done in an hour if you didn’t receive your strategy from the person in the “trainer” shirt). You should be proud of yourself because you’re succeeding thrice weekly. You are meeting your well-defined criteria for excellence. Without a clear plan, working out can be a source of unnecessary guilt since you can never be sure if you are meeting your fitness goals or if the work you put in was sufficient. And why on earth would you waste precious resources beating yourself up?
C) A well-thought-out strategy is helpful here, too. Planning ahead is a lot less of a hassle if you know you need to do X, Y, and Z on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 45 or 60 minutes. The noncommittal “I should exercise this week” or “today” leaves no room for planning. You’ll only work out if you don’t schedule it when you’re bored or have “free time.” For the vast majority of individuals, this does not exist. You put off working out even though you know you should because other things arise, and you feel bad about yourself. Find a real specialist and set an accurate timetable for it.
Try sleeping more if you want to kick your self-control into high gear. Ideally, you should rest for between seven and nine hours per night. Motivation and self-control shriek their last death toll at the sound of exhaustion. Your tired mind, both conscious and unconscious, becomes preoccupied with, well, laziness. People who don’t get enough sleep will do anything they can to avoid exertion by any means necessary, including watching television and eating unhealthy foods to unwind (I don’t think many people realize how HUGE the link is between stress eating and a lack of sleep and play time), and engaging in other activities. (If you chronically don’t get enough sleep, exhaustion becomes “normal,” so you don’t recognize it and likely won’t until you get enough sleep for a week.)
Less sleep yields a net loss of time. You can tell yourself that you have an extra two or three hours in the day since you only sleep five or six hours at night, making your total awake time for the day 18 or 19 instead of the traditional 16 hours. However, the truth is that you are only functioning at 50-60% without adequate rest. Great plan; you’ll feel terrible, be unhealthy, and accomplish even less than before.
I’m taking organic chemistry right now (yuck!). I didn’t start the semester out significant at ensuring I got 8 hours of sleep every night or carving out time for fun and recreation; instead, I let school and work consume my entire week, from morning to night. Despite my best efforts, it took me 8-10 hours to finish a single chapter with only 70% comprehension/retention. (according to my exams). But now that I sleep for 8 hours every night, six days a week, and take at least a day and a half off every weekend, my mind is so much fresher and sharper that I can finish an organic chemistry chapter in 3-5 hours with 80%+ retention/comprehension.
Realistically, you should expect to encounter setbacks on your route to success. Contrary to what you may have learned in class, making mistakes is integral to improving your skills. You are not a machine; you are a human, and as such, you may expect setbacks when you attempt to establish a routine of physical activity. If you don’t succeed at first, try again; if that doesn’t work, try something slightly different each time. You will exhaust all possible excuses and follow if you don’t just keep doing the same things that haven’t worked before.
Everything boils down to a fundamental truth: “I make all my workouts unless I am sick.” All the tactics to make it easier are fantastic, but they are useless without the correct attitude. It’s either true or false; you’re doing it right now or not. No justifications, no rational-lies-action. Want to be healthy? What do you wish to improve your appearance? The next step is to begin a regular fitness routine. Surely not! If you don’t want to, fine. If you could stop making up scenarios in your head, getting your rear in the gym would be much easier.
Josef Brandenburg is a Washington, DC-based fat-loss (as opposed to weight-loss) expert who focuses on assisting regular, busy individuals in achieving their fitness goals within the constraints of their schedules and available resources. In just four weeks, with only 3–3.5 hours of exercise per week, his typical client loses 8–0 pounds of body fat. Visit and read more by clicking here!
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