If you’ve been meaning to increase your exercise as we get close to summer and haven’t gotten around to it yet, you’re not alone. One of the most common things I hear from people starting out with personal training is “I’ve been meaning to do this for a while.” Don’t worry there’s no judgement from me or any of the trainers at Geelong’s Gym, we know how hard it is to make a behavioural change. We’re motivated seeing people get to the point where they say “ok, that’s it. I’m starting.”
Speaking of motivation, people often associate exercise with motivation. It’s common to hear “I’m feeling motivated” or “I’m not feeling very motivated today, I’ll work out tomorrow.” Motivation is a feeling, a feeling which can be fleeting at times. I’ve had people ask me, how do you stay motivated to work out? My answer, I work out. When I don’t feel like it? I try to do something, just get myself moving and do something.
I spent the weekend in Melbourne attending Filex, a national fitness industry convention. Craig Harper, who helped pioneer the personal training industry, drove home the point that you can’t master the thing you don’t do. In order to make exercise a habit, you need to do it. I could stop this article right here, but I know it’s not that simple. Getting into shape is hard, and the longer you’ve been out of shape the harder it is.
In Australia it is now more normal to be out of shape than it is to be fit. The 2004-2005 National Health Survey results showed the percentage of the population who were overweight or obese was 49%. That was the last time it was more normal to be considered a healthy weight than overweight. Shortly after, we crossed the 50% threshold and ushered in a new age.
Most people know they could improve their health through some combination of eating better and moving more. When you simplify all things fitness, eating better and moving more is a good place to start. However, there are a million and one options when starting a new exercise journey which just adds to the confusion. Sometimes we start something that ends up adding more stress into our lives and we struggle to follow through with it. The lack of follow through can then elicit a cycle of guilt rather than a feeling of success and achievement.
Perhaps most importantly, some people I see in the gym often don’t really know why they are there. They can tell me that they want to lose weight or feel better, but there is not yet an emotional connection to what they say they want to do. They haven’t considered how losing weight or feeling better is going to impact their life so they can use it to drive them.
If it’s time you made exercise a habit, consider these 5 points:
- Seek guidance to create your plan -if you’re not sure where to start, ask someone, and if their answer doesn’t seem right to you ask someone else. Uncertainty is a threat, and the unknown provides a greater feeling of threat than the known, so once you know the plan, you remove a lot of the unknown and the fear and stress that can come with it.
- Find a training buddy for accountability -It could be a friend or a personal trainer. Not only will this make the experience more social which has been shown to have a positive outcome on results, but you now have a commitment to keep with someone other than yourself. This keeps you on the hook and before long exercise will be as normal as putting underwear on (assuming you wear underwear).
- Know your why – Think about why you really want to exercise. How will that outcome you have in mind impact on your life? Developing the emotional connection to the reason why will help you see this as a lifestyle rather than a means to an end.
- Decide what behaviours are non-negotiable – You could start by committing to one thing like doing one 30-minute PT session each week that’s non-negotiable. No matter what’s happening you do not miss this appointment. Another example might be going for a one hour walk to start every weekend. Start with one non-negotiable and the rest of the schedule can evolve over time if need be.
- Have the intent to follow through – Ask yourself, on a scale of 1 to 10, how confident am I on following through with this plan? An answer below 7 is a red flag and might not get you through the inevitable dose of CBF’d (which means can’t be bothered) that you will likely experience along the way.
Above all else remember; doing correlates with motivation and more motivation is created through more doing.
Hope to see you in the gym!