After taking the better part of a year off from a regimented health and fitness plan, it got me thinking about other times in my life where I took a break, whether warranted or not, and what the appropriate approach is to getting back into some semblance of a structured health and fitness regimen. We’ve all been there and have all faced the dreaded reality of recommitting to our health and fitness. We become masters of making excuses for why we haven’t gotten started. These are some of my personal favorites:
“I’ll start on Monday. No point in starting mid-week.”
“I’ll start next month so I can start fresh.”
“I’ll start next year, that way I can really focus on reaching my goals in the new year.”
What is the problem with all of these statements?
They tend to be mere empty promises and pure excuses for not getting started TODAY. We always think we need to force things rather than ease into them, therefore we delay even getting started. This is what I love so much about habit-based coaching. It gives you the flexibility to do things at your own pace without the need to force anything. We all too often think we need to do EVERYTHING all at once, but what happens when we try to do everything? We do some things well and other things pretty terribly. We end up getting extremely frustrated and eventually give up! This vicious cycle tends to be somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy, as we often know what the outcome will be before we even get started, yet, against our better judgement, we force it, crossing our fingers that this time will be different. That we will somehow have more willpower, more motivation, more consistency than we did on previous attempts. The problem with this mentality is that these attributes you think will magically appear when you need them are only available in limited supply. You will not always have willpower. You will not always be motivated. You will not always be consistent. Because instead of trying to ease your way into better health and fitness, you tried to force your way, and usually kicking and screaming.
Truth be told, if you had instead eased your way in and focused on small wins over time, they would very quickly add up to long-term success. This is where skills come into play. In order for anything to become habit, we have to consistently practice the skill, so it almost becomes automatic, like brushing your teeth before bed. Sounds pretty simple right? Then why is it so hard to be consistent enough that the skill becomes a habit? The simple, one word, answer…
Human beings are masters at making excuses for their behavior. We make excuses to get out of doing things we do not want to do. We also make excuses for things we are not ready to do. And the latter is often where health and fitness goals go to die. We may think we want something bad enough to do whatever it takes to get it, but oftentimes, we simply have not adequately identified our why and are not really ready to commit to what we know we need to do to achieve our goals.
For me, the first step before making any changes towards better health and fitness, is to identify and own your why. In simple terms, this is the reason you want to achieve your health and fitness goals. This should be highly personal and should not, in any way, revolve around other’s opinions of you and your health and fitness. This statement is something that should be written down and posted where you can see it often, as a reminder of why you set down this path. It will also be used as a compass throughout the journey. Yes, I said journey. The path to better health and fitness does not happen overnight. It takes consistent effort over time and strong self-belief to reach your goals.
One note about whys. I would highly advise not making your why centered around aesthetics. Instead focus on the larger goal, not the more shallow, aesthetic-cenetered goals (unless you are a figure competitor of course ;)). Focusing too much on the exterior does not allow you to really look within yourself to find the why that is going to really carry you through the life of the journey. I’d also get as specific as possible. Having a generic why, such as “I want to lose weight so I can be healthier,” does not get us to the core of your motivation. This requires a little more introspection and being as brutally honest with yourself as you can. It helps to keep asking why questions to better uncover your true why. For example:
Q: Why do you want to be healthier?
A: So I can walk a flight of stairs without getting winded.
Q: Why do you want to walk a flight of stairs without getting winded?
A: So I can enjoy hiking with my friends and family.
Q: Why do you want to enjoy hiking with your friends and family?
A: Because it brings me happiness and joy to spend time with my friends and family.
Q: (Circle back to original why) So, would you say you want to lose weight because it will make you happier by allowing you to better enjoy activities with friends and family?
Now this is personal. This statement means something to YOU.
Moral of the story…DIG DEEPER. There is always a bigger reason for wanting to do something. For the best chance of success, find your deeper why.
Once you have identified your true why, you are ready to start taking action, one step at a time.
Next post we’ll start to discuss taking action and where to get started.
Until then, identify your why and get ready to take the next step!
Stronger one step at a time!