(It’s not Starting an exercise program that’s the problem. It’s Maintaining it!)
You are at the point where you know you need to get healthier. You have told yourself, “Tomorrow is the day I will begin my exercise program!” And you do it!! You have a great start! You successfully make it through the first week, or month or three months… but… you fall off the wagon as easily as you start. If this is you, learn some proven techniques for maintaining an exercise program that even the most motivated athletes need to heed.
- Always Always Always remember your vision! Your vision of your future self – playing with your kids/grandkids, finishing a race in memory of your best friend, confidently walking onto an airplane and not worrying about people who don’t want to sit next to you, easily getting out of your fishing boat, putting on your wedding dress and feeling like a million bucks, getting to your class reunion and noticing you’re pretty much the best looking one there, etc. Visualize your future self every morning when you get up, and every night when you go to bed. Write down the affirmations that motivate you. Literally, write them every night and every morning.
- 5:00 a.m. is NOT the time to negotiate whether or not you should get up to workout! Once you have decided (with careful, purposeful consideration of your schedule) that 5:00 a.m. (or whatever time you set) is the only time you can fit in 45 minutes for a good sweat, there is NO negotiating. Don’t even hit the snooze! Decide! And that’s it! Get your ass out of bed/out of the office/away from the kids!
- There are a thousand superfun options for staying in shape: anything from Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), to tennis, to Obstacle Course Racing. You can use these specific activities to stay in shape, however (and this is a big However!), the reality is, the activity that we enjoy is not the means to the end, but the end. The time you spend at the gym IS the means to the end. If you want to be a person who is fit enough to participate in a 5k any time you want, or if you want to be a person who can take a vacation in Hawaii any time of year and be fit enough to hike with your family, or if you want to be person who can jump on a SUP the second your friends text you on a beautiful day, then gym-time will get you there! You have to constantly remind yourself that the time you spend in the gym is the KEY to the FREEDOMS you want to enjoy in life!
- Vigilantly mind your mind. No one who is successful allows their thoughts to wonder onto any old thing. Successful people mind their thoughts, tend to their thinking, watch their words, guard their beliefs… Your decision to maintain an exercise program needs to be heavily guarded! Recognize it for what it is: A life-changing decision! And a life-changing decision should be treated very seriously.
- Have a plan. You know the old adage: “Those who fail to plan…” Even if your plan is to go to the gym for some “Heavy Lifting” on day 1, “Cardio” on day 2, “Core and Balance” on day 3, etc. If you’re not keen on planning specifics, that’s fine! But have some kind of weekly and monthly plan for your gym-time, or exercise time. If you know that you work better with specifics, either write your own program, find one on the internet, or hire someone. If it helps you succeed, then that’s what you should do! Why wait? Your plan should include periodization, which includes gradual increases in volume and intensity, and recovery.
Every person on the planet has challenges maintaining motivation to stay fit. You are not alone! It is not easy. But if you heed this very good advice, you will be setting yourself up to win forever!