How to Make Exercise Part of Your Regular Routine
How to stay motivated and to continue to keep up with exercise.
We are constantly bombarded with gimmicks, tools and supposedly magical new and improved ways to get fit quick and melt pounds off with ease. Just think back over the last ten years to the numerous tv commercials you have seen for fitness routines and products. From cardio kick boxing to numerous types of multi DVD packages that have you jumping around to some new miracle exercise system.
Fitness is a multi-billion dollar industry. To illustrate this, think of how many pieces of exercise equipment, gym memberships, exercise plans you have purchased over the years. Now multiply that by the number of people in a lot of countries in the world and we can see how much money is generated by the fitness industry.
So, if you are like a lot of people and did purchase some fitness gadget, how long did you use it for? If you are like the majority of the population, probably not too long.
I remember buying a stair-stepper back in the 90’s, thinking it would magically transform me into a he-man that would be ripped and in shape like those guys on the front cover of a romance novel or fitness magazine. Of course, I also hoped that women would be magically drawn to me in droves because of this new much –hyped piece of exercise equipment I just purchased.
Well, let me tell you how that situation ended! Reality smacked me like a frozen glove to the face in January. Despite good intentions and some short spurts of misguided stair-stepper enthusiasm, all I sadly ended up with was a fancy device to store my coats on.
Yep, I had purchased a $400.00 coat rack and every time I put a coat on it, it was a plastic and metal guilt-inducing reminder of good intentions, gone bad. Not my finest moment. However, I soon learned, I was not alone in this.
So many of us get caught up in the well-intentioned, enthusiastic credit card spending on fitness supplements, equipment and gym memberships. We feel good about it at the time. We sure do. All we are doing at this stage is buying hope. Yes, buying hope.
We feel good about ourselves because we have done something that, potentially, could provide a real benefit for us. Even though we have not put down the bag of chips and gotten off the couch yet at this point, we are metaphorically patting ourselves on the back.
So why do we not follow through on these well-meaning, expensive gestures to reduce our weight and uplift our spirits? For the simple fact, the novelty wears off very fast.
As an example, have you ever been to a fitness center on January 2? Most likely, you noticed it was quite busy, full of people in their new exercise gear looking quite motivated. Maybe it was still somewhat busy by about January 10?
Soon after that, you probably noticed that the crowds substantially dropped off and never returned. Gym owners love this – prepaid or automatic monthly paid memberships and the people do not show up to cause wear and tear on their equipment.
So how can we change this? How can we maintain a regular exercise routine and reach your health and fitness goals? Here is one strategy.
The first step is to block out all the noise. Block it right out.
Do not think about the latest fitness fad infomercial you just saw on TV or about what your co-worker was blabbing on about at work where they swear their neighbors-uncle’s-cousin twice-removed lost 450 pounds on the orange peel and sautéed grasshopper diet.
I want you to close your eyes and think back to a time when you did an activity or activities purely for the enjoyment you got from doing them. Not to get fit or burn calories, but simply for the love of doing that particular activity. What was that activity?
Maybe it was playing tennis? Maybe it was dancing? Whatever it was, just realize you have made a big first step by figuring this out.
Obviously, if you are starting an activity, it is always recommended to see your doctor first to see if it’s safe for you to do.
The next step is to join a league or club where you can go regularly enjoy your activity. Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, there is quite often clubs or leagues you can join to pursue your activity. Check websites, call your local recreation center or YW-YMCA, ask friends and relatives. More often than not there is somewhere to go where you can meet with other like-minded individuals to pursue your exercise passion. The main point here is to lock it in. Make it real by signing up and committing to it.
The magic happens now because once you have been doing this activity for a little while, it won’t feel like torture to get yourself out to your scheduled routine. A lot of the time you will look forward to it. If you find some exercise activity boring or border-line torture, you are not going to stick with it for long term. Why would you? I know I wouldn’t.
The next step is to treat that regularly scheduled exercise like an appointment. Much like you would make an appointment to see the dentist; you have blocked that time off ONLY for doing the activity that you enjoy. A friend wants to make plans that night? Tell them you have to reschedule. Something good on TV? Record it or watch it online later. That pre-scheduled time is YOUR activity time.
Do not let distractions creep in. The real bonus now, is the longer you do the activity the more routine it becomes – it becomes almost automatic. Habits, whether good or bad, become ingrained from REPETITION. Let the momentum of repetition work in your favor and let your body and mind reap the benefits of regular exercise!