Like any journey in life, you have to start somewhere. Taking that fist step however can be so confusing that often we end up not taking it at all. For so many of us just knowing where to start would have the power to propel us forward into action. The good news is that there is no “right” first step to take. Maybe it is in realizing you want a change, maybe it is the first thing you do to work towards that change. This process is different for everyone and it is important to find YOUR way. But here is how I learned to love exercise!
Take the time to identify your long-term goals clearly and precisely. Is it to lose weight? Run a marathon? Become super fit or simply to live a healthier life? Whatever your fitness goal is write it down and be as accurate as possible. In making this long-term goal clear and precise you are in a much better position to figure out exactly what you need to do to get there.
For some of us including myself, the idea of becoming one of “those people” who exercises is laughable. We simply cant imagine what we would feel like or look like when we got there, but all too often our inner critic rears its ugly head and tells us that we won’t get there. If you cannot imagine it then how can you do it? Try to go through this visualization process and write down each stage. Break it down. What will you look like? How will you feel? Picture everything you can about yourself when you get to goal. Whenever you get that pesky, niggling self-doubt, bat it away with these positive visualisations. This can be difficult but with practice can be a very powerful tool.
Break it down and be specific
Once you have decided on your goal and you can picture it clearly, figure out what it is going to take to get you there. If your goal is to lose weight then decide realistically how much time you can dedicate to your exercise goal per week. This stage can be particularly difficult because in my experience the temptation is to want the goal so much that you are willing to put everything in your life on hold to achieve it. The problem with this approach is that it is not sustainable. I used to say to myself “right I am going to get up at 6 every morning and exercise for 1 hour 6 days a week “ and after maybe sticking to this for 3 weeks inevitably it was too hard. My whole life changed overnight and I was never ready for it. So start small. Build up to it. In the end I decided to do 15 minutes on the treadmill (I even had to walk) 3 times per week. That was all. After 2 weeks that 15 minutes walking was 20 minutes running and eventually I was running 5K and so on. My goal however was weight loss, fitness and shape! I wanted to change my body. But I had too many goals and I was not specific enough. I reassessed my goals and decided what I wanted and worked for that. I added strength training into my routine for example and voila, I began to get to goal.
This for me turned out to be the most important thing. I am an all or nothing kind of person when it comes to me and my goals so I struggled with this one the most. It is so important to be ok with the fact that change takes time. For example if weight loss is your goal, remember that you didn’t put on weight overnight so it won’t come off overnight. Try to focus on your little short-term goals and not the bigger picture. For me it was deciding to be ok with working out 3 times a week for 20 minutes rather than losing 2 pounds or running for the whole 20 minutes. If I had to walk I did. The only thing was to stay on that darn treadmill for the length of time. At first try not to focus on performance, speed, time limits, or weight loss. Just doing it is what counts. Remember at this stage you are forming the habit and that takes time.
Be kind to yourself
When you are starting out it is so easy to feel like things aren’t happening fast enough. Like you can’t do it. The main thing to focus on is the fact that you are doing it in the first place. Congratulate yourself and be proud that you showed up each time rather than beating yourself up for how unfit you are. In the beginning just doing it is the hardest part. With time you can start to push and reassess your mini goals and tweak them. You won’t love exercise overnight but if you stick to your guns you will love it sooner than you think!
Just try one!
I used to think I could never do a push up and not to bother trying. So many exercises look so hard and guess what? THEY ARE HARD! But it doesn’t mean you can’t do them. Boy was I wrong about myself! I realized that actually after a few weeks of anything I was better, stronger, faster and even more determined. For so many of my clients they lack the confidence to just try one thing. They often hate the exercises they find the hardest. Within a very short time of trying, these exercises become their favourites. As you learn to master something you begin to take more pride in it and want it more. So I used to say to myself “just try one” and if that was all I did I was happy. In no time at all my ones were turning to ten’s and twelve’s. Believe in yourself and give yourself a chance! You will be surprised what you can accomplish with a little self-belief!
Find something you love
Ah the gym! It is not for everyone. Certainly wasn’t for me. Starting to exercise doesn’t have to mean expensive gym memberships and evenings after work sweating it out alongside strangers fighting for equipment. There is so much available out there now. So many activities that these days I think everyone can find something they love to do. Make a list of all the things you like to do or would like to learn to do. No one ever said that you can’t learn a new skill whilst getting exercise. Learn to climb, dance, skate, box….. the world is your oyster. Arrange to go to a class and try something new with a friend. This way you can’t back out when you get scared! Keep trying new things and most importantly NEVER give up!
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