Congratulations on your decision to start a new fitness regimen!
This is the best decision you can make for yourself for long term health. Not only does exercise improve your physical health, it can help your brain performance and memory too! I could give you hundreds of reasons as to why you should start your fitness journey today, but how do you start and ensure you won’t quit in a week?
You’re in luck! I’ve got some great advice and tips for you to use so you can set yourself up for success in the long run. Making the decision to start is a huge step, doing this work up-front will help you stay on track when things get hard.
Set a Goal, or Three!
Whether you’re starting for the first time or maybe you’ve been off track for awhile and you’re ready to start again, one of the things I recommend first is to set 2-3 goals. As you consider your goals, attach a “why” to each goal. For example:
Goal 1: “I’d like to get back in shape.” Why is it important for you to get back in shape? “Because I want to play with my children more.”
Goal 2: “I’d like to run a 5K in 3 months.” Why is it important for you to run a 5K in 3 months? “Because I want to take my dog for runs at the park.
Goal 3: “I want to lose 10 pounds.” Why is losing 10 pounds important to you? “Because I’d like to get back into my favorite jeans.” -or- “Because I want to feel good about myself when I look in the mirror.”
When you ask yourself “why” you are attaching an emotion to your goal. It’s important to examine the motivation and drive that fires that goal and harness that emotion to succeed. No matter how realistic and measurable a goal is, if you aren’t emotionally connected to achieving it, it will be impossible to accomplish it.
Be sure to evaluate your goals and determine how you plan on achieving them. Are they attainable and achievable? Are they extremely unrealistic and require you to give up a lot? Starting small with your goals is never a bad thing.
So, you’ve got some goals and you’ve attached emotion to each goal: what’s next? Motivation? No, not really.
Success Breeds Motivation
Actually, what you need is success first.
“I need motivation to get to the gym, though!”
No, you need commitment and dedication to your “why’s”. If you rely on motivation, you’ll end up back on the couch. Success breeds motivation, it’s not the other way around.
When we talk about success we mean small wins. Anyone who’s ever reached their goal had small successes add up that snowballed into an avalanche of achievement. If we see that we only need a small amount of effort to begin to succeed, reaching the next small success is more motivating.
“Ok, so I’ve got my goals and I’ve attached a “why” to each goal. I understand I need to be dedicated to my why’s to find success. Through that I’ll stay motivated. Got it!“
“I’m going to hit the gym 5 days next week at 5 am!”
Well, you could but in my experience, often very well intentioned people unknowingly set themselves up for failure by setting unrealistic expectations….and an alarm clock at 4:30 am!
How does a tiny mouse get through a whole wheel of cheddar cheese? By consistently taking little bites of cheese.
Start small so you can develop a pattern of success. Let’s start with 2 times each week for 3 weeks. Then move into 3 days of training for the next 3 weeks. That’s building success and a routine without unrealistic expectations!
It takes doing a task a minimum of 21 times to develop it as a habit. On average, it takes about 2 months to commit it to habit. Keep your goals top-of-mind as they will keep you motivated to keep working on developing this habit.
Don’t Let Friction Hold You Back
I think it’s also important to note that there will be friction along the way. On your scheduled gym day, your friend who promised they would stick with you, flakes on you. Or, you’re sore and you don’t feel like going to the gym today. Or, you are tired and you just don’t want to go.
If you prepare for this, you can combat the friction by having your plan in place. Remember, you’ve got your goals and your whys. Those are yours and yours alone and you are solely responsible for your health and fitness, no one else is, not even your best friend. Focus on your why’s when you hit friction.
Remember, you don’t have to run a marathon, all you have to do is a 10 minute walk. You don’t have to overhaul your entire diet and give up everything you enjoy, just give up one thing. You don’t have to drink 100 oz of water on day one, just drink one extra glass a day until you get there.
Think big but start small and celebrate your small successes along the way!
Whatever your goals may be, the important thing is to START. Working out it – news flash – work. It won’t come easy and it won’t come fast, nothing worth doing ever does! Set your goals, look at them daily, and get to work. Motivation is fleeting, aim for success. Be as real as you can be with your journey, no one is perfect but you can always be and do better each day. Don’t let anything – not even yourself – hold you back!
You’ve got this!