Starting something new is hard, sometimes even painful. Making serious lifestyle changes is definitely painful especially if it includes getting into shape.
My sister in law is a seasoned athlete. She rises before the sun most mornings to either run or cycle. If she started out with a morning run, she’ll often follow up with a cycling session later in the afternoon. She’s been in more cycling and running races than I can count, and her fitness levels are off the charts.
Last year she had a serious foot injury that left her sidelined for several months. Even though she was doing everything possible to speed up the recovery process and get back to exercising, there was this deep air of anxiety when she talked about how hard it was going to be to get back into shape. This is an accomplished athlete with a lifetime of experience, yet the fear and dread of having to climb the ladder from unfit to fit was very palpable.
So then consider someone new, who’s never really been in good shape. Those first workouts can feel horrible, and then you’re sore for days after. If this is what exercising is like then forget it, who wants to do that to themselves several times a week?
But the thing is, once you get to a certain level of fitness, and it really doesn’t take all that long, exercising isn’t gross anymore. Not to stay in that level of fitness. Once you’ve reached a certain level of fitness, that’s when you get all the good stuff that comes from a good workout. The endorphin rush after a brisk long run, the firm pumped muscles after a nice session in the gym, the pounds trimming down, and seeing your resting heart rate and blood pressure dropping into the healthy zone.
In short, just feeling good, almost all the time. It’s awesome, and you start really looking forward to getting a workout in, to get a good sweat on and to see for yourself what you’re really made of. It doesn’t need to be this crazy goal either. Any little thing that you accomplish today that at some point in the past you thought you couldn’t, carries with it an immense amount of satisfaction.
Of course, regardless of your fitness level, you can always push yourself and make exercise sessions ‘gross’. And once you become a little more seasoned, pushing yourself past your comfort zone is a rewarding challenge in itself. There’s something exciting about pushing yourself, testing yourself. It’s exhilarating to accomplish something you didn’t think you could.
Many people come home from work exhausted, and want to zone out on the sofa in front of the tv eating comfort food. But staying in that place of comfort and complacency has negative rewards. The less you do, the less you want to do, and soon, the less you can do.
Even when you are in shape, sometimes you get that little voice that says “Let’s just blow this workout off today and chill out instead.” And there are those days that you need to do that. But most times, I find that when I feel like blowing my workout off, I reason with myself and say, “Ok, let’s just do a quick ten minute workout.” Ten minutes is better than nothing. You can actually have a great little workout in ten minutes. But usually, once I get moving momentum takes over, and I do the whole workout. And it feels even better afterward.
When you’ve gone a whole week without turning on the television once, you’ve gotten several workouts in, you’re eating healthy food and feeling good, you’re feeling more positive and more productive at work, you feel like you’re sort of glowing. Those kinds of rewards cant be measured on a scale, or in a reflection in a mirror. Unfortunately many times those rewards don’t become real to people until their health is failing them and it becomes a matter of life and death.
But it does take some effort to get there. It’s always more effort to get into shape than to stay in shape, but it doesn’t have to be this insurmountable obstacle. Start out with some baby steps at first. Go for a walk with your dog. Do 5 or 10 minutes of stretching, add a few modest twists and turns to your vacuum routine.
There’s no such thing as a step too small…. or too big. If you dream of running a marathon some day, awesome! Start training for your first 5K today.
At times we get injured, or like me this last week; really sick, and you can’t workout. Life will occasionally throw all sorts of stuff at you and you legitimately don’t have the time to exercise. But those times usually don’t last. We all have 24 hours in a day. We all have a choice. When you choose the path of health and exercise you’ll find that you make choices that free up the time that you need to fit a workout in.
Most of the time we don’t even realize how much time we waste in a day, until you need that time for something that’s really important to you. Make your health a priority and get moving. Just go. The thing about the very act of starting is that it carries momentum, and that momentum can carry you forward to a fitter, healthier life.