Originally Published December 27, 2011
The average New Year’s Resolution is remembered or adhered to for three weeks. This is virtually never enough time to accomplish it. I am speaking, of course, of the most common resolution which is to get healthy and/or lose weight.
Will this year be different for you?
Will you stick to the commitment you made to yourself to exercise, eat better, get more sleep, and meditate? Or will you get gung-ho for a few weeks and then gradually lapse back into old routines, forgetting every thought you had about change? I’ll talk here specifically about beginning an exercise routine and sticking to it–an all-to-common and forgotten-about goal.
I want to make this blog short and simple because I feel that something like starting an exercise routine and sticking to it is put under the microscope and made into a science that people study for years without ever starting.
Exercise is a subject where mountains are made out of molehills. Just move your body! Sweat a lot! No matter how little you think you know about exercising and fitness, you know enough. I promise. I personally promise you that you do not have to read more articles, subscribe to a fitness magazine, find what fabrics to wear for which activities, buy the latest diet book, or read the latest research on fitness, burning fat, building muscle, or anything else to put an effective exercise routine into your life. If you simply replaced a fraction of the time you spent thinking about exercising or reading about exercising with actual exercise, you would probably have reached your goals by now.
Those that sell fitness products and information would love for us to think we needed them. That makes them money! We don’t need them. We don’t need one single scientific study to put on some sneakers and go run around the neighborhood.
How much time have you spent shopping for fitness attire? This includes studying it in your copy of Shape magazine. Do your tops go with your shorts and pants? Is it flattering on you? These things take up our time and attention without offering anything toward our ultimate goals. (I still wear the old t-shirts I got in high school which have holes in them). I actually read an article saying that you should get some fancy workout gear to get you more encouraged and excited to exercise. I think this is sheer nonsense! If you need toys to get you out there, then as soon as the gleam wears off of them, you won’t go anymore. All the bells and whistles, equipment, clothes, research articles, magazines, and “latest health information” are sophisticated ways to dilly-dally and procrastinate on this for the rest of your life.
Another barrier is this massive collective resistance to exercising. It’s made to sound like the most excruciating activity known to man. It’s a favorite of topics to complain about. A couple of sore muscles is described as the end of the world by some people. I strongly feel that we have all taken on the collective negativity that millions have generated around these subjects, and it has caused many of us to feel negative about exercise and dread it before we’ve even tried it for ourselves.
We hear it’s awful, painful, and smelly, and we’re already turned off. No one ever says how fantastic it feels! (Exercising feels fantastic!!) Giving up junk food and going for a run in the morning do not ruin our fun. They do not deprive us of our happiness. They are not excruciatingly painful. But the way you hear people talk, you’d think they had to go in for major surgery every day! Don’t give in to others’ negativity by believing it, and don’t let yourself mimic it. Nothing could be more natural and pleasurable for our bodies than to exercise them. It is yet another sign of modern culture that something we are made to do has gotten a completely bad rap.
I will sum up my most sophisticated fitness advice to you here: Just Do It.
Stop thinking about it, rationalizing it, analyzing it, creating spreadsheets on it, or any of our many delay techniques. Put on some sneakers and go for a run or a simple run/walk around the neighborhood. Do it every day. Do it for longer periods than before. That’s it. That’s all you have to do.
If you are doing this to see results, that is fine, but be patient. It takes time. Just because the fad diet books are geared toward results in 30 days or less does not mean this is normal or natural or going to work for you. These diets and programs are designed for quick sells and exploding popularity (i.e. making money) which they will only achieve if everything happens at the snap of a finger. Rarely are these plans healthy or sustainable because it is not usually natural for bodies to lose a lot quickly and be able to keep it off.
Start exercising with the mindset that this is for LIFE. This is not to do it till you look better and then to stop. This is not simply the means to one end. Embrace it, love it, and do it every day for the rest of your life. This is health maintenance that you simply cannot live without. Keep one eye on your goals, but keep another eye on the long-term health of your body. You need to exercise whether you want to lose weight or not. You body is made to move, exercising is for everyone, and you don’t need anything else to start right now.