Approach a New Exercise Program Like a New Lover
How many times have you decided to get back to some type of exercise program? You've bought gear, new shoes, new clothes, whatever is needed. You've set aside some time, and off you go. A nice heart pounding workout or two and wham, you're right back to the couch, watching TV and thinking about starting an exercise program. What went wrong?
Nine times out of 10 what happened was you simply tried to do too much too soon. It's just like dating. If you met someone you liked and wanted them to like you too, what would happen if you started calling them multiple times every day, leaving clever messages on their answering machine, and buying them cute gifts and cards. How might they react to being smothered with affection. It's an almost guaranteed way to drive that once interested suitor into performing a disappearing act.
If you start your exercise program by doing too much too soon you'll soon tire of it entirely. It's far better to start slowly and like with a new lover, better to play it just a little cool, giving them a little taste, rather than the whole banquet. It's always wise to leave them wanting more. Amusement park rides last only a few minutes because studies found after a longer ride people said, "Wow, that was fun," but after the shorter ride it was more often, "Wow, that was great, let's go again!"
Six Little Minutes is all it Takes
So how does this translate into your exercise program? Give your body a taste of activity at first, rather than the full meal deal. When I first started "getting in shape" I rode the exercise bike at the gym for the grand sum total of six minutes. "Six minutes? You must be joking. What good would that do?"
At 28-years old, suddenly deciding to "get in shape" was quite the surprise for my body and mind. Six minutes was simply as much as my legs could take without giving out, so that was where I started. You may start at four minutes or 10, it doesn't matter. For me even six minutes wasn't easy, but I kept at it, and after the first week or so, I started to notice my legs felt stronger, I was breathing deeper, and the short ride was getting me primed for the workout ahead. (I was also doing a very short weight lifting routine). It felt good. I was beginning to enjoy the process. Notice I said after a week or so, meaning it may have taken me three or more rides before I started to actually enjoy it. Don't expect to change your daily habits without some initial resistance, no matter how motivated you are, the instinctual brain response is, "That was nice, now let's get back to the couch." A progressive plan, such as this, will help you avoid that kind of thinking.
I quickly discovered I wanted more of that invigorated feeling, so after a few more six minute rides I was ready to add more time. I decided to ride for 10 minutes, knowing I could drop back to six if it was too much. This felt great and for a month or more I happily rode for 10 minutes. What is 10 minutes out of your day? It's nothing. Anybody can give 10 minutes to increase their health and well being.
Slowly, my bike riding time increased to 12 minutes, then 15, then 20. Once I hit 20 minutes I stayed there for quite awhile, and by now I was riding the bike before every workout. I went to the gym three days a week at first. It had become a new habit and one I looked forward to on workout days. Days when I wasn't going to work out I was just a bit anxious for the next day so I could go to the gym. You want to have that feeling of desire for the activity, but don't schedule yourself so heavily at first you can't keep it up or it becomes a chore.
You'll know when you're ready to up the intensity because you'll feel ready. You'll begin to notice you feel like you could keep going forever, and that's when you might decide to add a few minutes the next ride. If you try more minutes and it feel too much like work, cut it back again.
When Obstacles Get in the Way: Putting Yourself First
Eventually I was riding for 30 minutes, and I wanted to ride even longer but couldn't tie up the bike at the club for that long, so I did what any reasonable person would do; I shopped for a bike of my own. I really wanted a Lifecycle, since that's what I'd been riding at the club, but they were way out of my price range. I decided to buy a Schwinn Air-Dyne and quickly discovered the downside: my shiny new bike was quite loud (the Air-Dyne sold today no longer has the noise). It made a huge racket when I'd ride, which whenever someone was home they'd complain about how it was interfering with their lives and why couldn't I ride later?
I tried to be accommodating to my family but I quickly realized I was deciding not to ride at all because it would have inconvenienced them. I was putting their needs before my own which is the wrong approach. It may seem polite but it's foolish to set aside my fitness goals because it may be a temporary inconvenience for them.
No one is going to bend over backwards to accommodate you, so why are you doing it for them? Stop it right now and get busy doing what's best for yourself first. Exercising or incorporating a new movement plan into your daily life is bound to create some friction. Fine. Expect it, deal with it and move ahead. Your kids may complain if you want to do an exercise video and they want to watch TV. What's more important? Your fitness program, that's what. Invite them to do it with you. There's no better way to get your kids interested in fitness for themselves than by watching you by example.
A Happy Mom is a Healthy Mom, and When Mom's Happy, The Family is Happy
I decided a happy mom is a healthy mom, so if riding a noisy bike for a short while each day makes mom happy, that's what mom's gonna do! Nobody complains any more. They just work around my schedule, and if it's too noisy, they can go do something else for awhile because if I say, "I'm going to ride my bike," that's what I'm going to do.
It's too easy to say, "No, that will inconvenience little Billy, so I better not swim today," or, "I have to pick up the kids after football practice, so I don't have time to go to the gym." That's wrong! You are important, and you better put yourself at the head of the list from now on. No more excuses because it might be inconvenient for someone else. It's always inconvenient for someone else.
If you share your living space with any other people, then someone else has always got something they need or want from you. We all get the same 24-hour day, and how you choose to spend your time is entirely up to you. Exercise is something I choose to do for myself, and when I'm in the mood to ride, I'm getting on the bike.
Work out a schedule and then stick to it. Being consistent with the time of day and days of the week will help those around you realize you are serious. By slowly adding more time every week (or as often as you're able to increase it), you are on your way to establishing a new habit and working yourself eventually up to the minimum 20 minutes per day the experts suggest. Five minutes is better than zero, so no matter where you begin, just get started.
~~ Kathryn Martyn, Master NLP Practitioner, EFT counselor, author of the free e-book: Changing Beliefs, Your First Step to Permanent Weight Loss, and owner of OneMoreBite-Weightloss.com
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