We are approaching the third month of 2021, and that means summer is around the corner. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for warm weather, shorts, and late summer days. For some, it will be a reminder that bathing suit season is around the corner, and that will bring happy feelings, but for others, it is a dreaded reminder that their fitness goals may not be coming so quickly. So what is one to do? Start a fitness routine or forget any idea of wearing a bathing suit this summer? Is exercise an all-or-nothing activity?
Exercise habits is a topic I find fascinating. Some people work out every day while others work out a few days a week. Then there are those people who treat their fitness routine as if it is a relationship. It’s suitable for a short time, but then it becomes inconvenient, and they stop. Then when the new year rolls around, they are back on it. Sure we can come up with many reasons why we can not exercise. Aside from a health condition, many circumstances keeping us from committing to a fitness routine. Lack of time, resources, friends, etc., are all examples. Often I find it comes down to metrics. What are metrics? You can check out the author Mark Manson to get an idea of his definition. I’ll sum up my meaning of the word. Those are the guidelines we set for ourselves and from which we base our decisions. I will come back to this topic in a bit.
I grew up in a house where my parents were active. From the time they woke up until they went to bed, they were busy. I remember as a child my mom bringing us to the Cosmopolitan gym. I say all this to say that being active was part of our lives, and, consequently, it positively affected my outlook on exercise as an adult. I have exercised for as long I can remember, and I even taught aerobics for several years. I don’t know that I always enjoy it, but it helped me get through some pretty rough patches in my life, and I often tell people I think of it as brushing my teeth.
For many people, just the idea of a fitness routine causes a negative emotion, much less doing it consistently. As a coach, I talk about this being essential to finding harmony in one’s life. It is one of the most challenging things for many of my clients to master. Thus, there is a need for personal trainers, instructors, gyms, nutrition experts, and coaches like me. So why do people have such a tough time when it comes to fitness? I have found that people are often hesitant or inconsistent in their fitness routines because their perceived ideas regarding their fitness goals are not necessarily feasible. We are back to the metrics again. In other words, their expectations don’t match what they are willing to do.
Think about this
If you have in your mind that you have to work out seven days a week for you to be successful at exercise, but you have never consistently exercised, then why would anything change this time? If you didn’t grow up doing this particular exercise for seven days, it’s not going to come naturally to you to do this. Why would you set yourself up for failure? Yet this is what we often do. We think of exercise in an all-or-nothing mentality. If you can’t put 100% into something, why start? Who defines a 100% activity anyway? Your 100% might not even come close to my definition of 100%. Additionally, if you didn’t spend time in the early years of your life exposed to fitness, let’s face it. It isn’t going to come easy.
So what is one supposed to do? Well, there is such a word called discipline, and thankfully we can learn discipline. Have you ever known someone that grew up in an undisciplined home and became disciplined later in life? It happens. Of course, the opposite can happen too. However, we are going to need a little more to make this fitness happen.
Discipline, Consistency, New Outlook
Besides the discipline that we need, we also need a different outlook. We need to change our metrics. Rather than getting hung up on the results, I suggest we focus on the process of being better than we were the day before by removing all the perceived ideas of how much time we should workout, how many days we should engage in it, and how hard the routine should be. I am not suggesting not setting goals, but perhaps the plan right now is to be consistent. We want to get this right so we can maintain and build from it. Rather than defining our metrics based on what we think fitness should look like, we embrace the idea of working out because we can. Rather than think of exercise as an all-or-nothing situation, we decide today that we will find something we love doing that incorporates both well-being and fitness into our lives, start small, and work to build consistency.
As with anything, maintaining a fitness routine takes both discipline and the ability to stay focused on the goal. More importantly, it takes the right mindset. You are not always going to enjoy it. Sometimes you have to put the shoes on and go. However, you will have a greater chance of succeeding if you find something you like, start small, and celebrate your successes. You want to stretch yourself but not so much that you freak yourself out. The more times you repeat the habit, the greater the odds you will build a lifestyle habit. Additionally, you may find in the process that the whole idea of wearing a bathing suit is not so threatening. If you want to find some more tips on this subject, check out “How to Start Exercising and Stick to it.”