The process of getting in shape can seem overwhelming at times. The road we envision between where we are currently juxtaposed with where we would like to be can seem like a long tumultuous journey. This can often lead to staying inactive or quitting what we originally started. The problem isn’t necessarily the actual degree of difficulty but rather the insurmountable roadblocks of our mind’s creation. Self-imposed limitations like, “I’m too old” or “I don’t have enough time” or “I’m not good enough” only keeps us tethered to our current circumstances. Getting out of our own way is paramount for anything we want to achieve in our lives. Exercise isn’t any different. So, here are some of my go-to tips to making the process of getting in shape more attainable.
The power of 30: Simply start off by dedicating a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity for yourself on a daily basis. It can be anything! Go for a walk, hit some weights at the gym, a family bike ride. The goal is to schedule time for yourself and stick to it. And, it is important to start finding ways to get your activity in instead of finding reasons to skip! Once you get into the habit and make it just as high of priority not only will it be a lot easier than you thought, but everything else that you need to accomplished will happen with more ease.
Strive for weekly improvement: Tracking your workouts is easier than ever with devices like Garmin, Fitbit, and Apple watches. Or if you prefer, simply write down your workouts in a fitness log. Regardless of what you use, be sure to track workouts so you can gauge your improvement. And when I talk about improvement, it doesn’t have to be mind blowing. I’m talking about shaving 1-2 seconds off of your minute/mile pace or going 1/10 of a mile further on your walk than last week. If it’s a strength workout, squeaking out a couple more reps or adding five pounds to your lift. Do this every week! It’s easy to get lured into the same routine and intensity which is why most people hit a plateau. Small, incremental improvement is key and they will add up tremendously over time!
Join a training group: There is a lot of motivation force that comes with having a workout partner or a training group. Many times I’ll hear a client say, “There is no way I would go out and do this on my own,” after a challenging trail run. Working out with a group that is driven brings a whole new level of accountability. Not only are you trying to get better, but you have others relying on you to help them get better as well. Plus, this is a great way to form new friendships and strengthen the likelihood of making exercise a habit for the long haul.
“Run your own race”: What I mean by this is, the only person you should measure yourself up against is yourself. That’s not to say you can’t compete with other people to raise your level of effort, but ultimately it’s your own gains that should be the measuring stick. Lets take me for example. As many of you may already know, several of my clients and I participate in Spartan Races each year. As a group we collectively elevate our individual efforts by training together. Now, while I consider myself a fast runner there are several of my athletes who are much faster than I am and most likely, always will be. With that being said, I don’t lose sight of the improvements I am making each week or get discouraged if I can’t keep up a few of them. In other words, “I’m running my own race.” It’s an important thing to keep in perspective as you go along each and every week of training, particularly if you workout in a group environment.
Get outside the gym: At the end of the day, if you are not enjoying the process chances are you won’t last. I encourage you to try a variety of activities and find at least 1-2 that you enjoy. Particularly outside of the gym. I witness something amazing every time I see people out in the foothills. Whether they are biking, running, or just taking the dogs out for a walk, everyone is genuinely friendly and always greets me with a hello. Rarely do you see this in any other setting. Why? Because it’s fun! Finding outdoor activities throws a nice mix into the routine, gives your gym workouts more purpose, and helps tie everything together. So get out there and commit the time for yourself, get better, stay active, and make exercise a part of who you are.
Jason Wanlass is the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or championfit.net.