There are at least three phases to attaining an active lifestyle that can be enjoyed rather than endured and I believe a lot of the rah, rah and the drill sergeant articles miss out on explaining exactly how one becomes hooked on his or her chosen form of exercise. I aim to take that on with the hope that folks can understand what it takes to break through the barrier that is keeping them from enjoying, or even needing their workout. First of all, let’s assume that we’ve actually chosen an activity that we enjoy – you may not know this right off the bat, there’s a little trial and error involved here.
The beauty of getting through these phases is that they really don’t take a bunch of steps, they don’t rely on a bunch of goals or plans mapped out weeks in advance (though that can help)… All that must be done is to show up and put in a decent effort – the benefits will come in time.
The first stage to attaining an active lifestyle can be broken down into two parts. The first is recognition – we have to realize that there is a need for physical exercise. The second is to “be done” with your current lifestyle. This isn’t rocket science, it’s not complex, you just have to finally grow tired enough with where you’re at that you’ll take action to change. These are decisions, they take a minute or a year to come to – the speed at which you make them is up to you.
You’re a third of the way there already!
The second phase is the action phase, where the rubber meets the road! This is a volatile step, so proceed with 1 part caution and 1 part reckless abandon. The caution is used to keep from getting injured, the reckless abandon is for the results – because that’s what we’re here for after all. You’ve really got two things working against each other – the harder you go, the quicker you see results but the more likely you are to injure yourself. Running or riding, take it up carefully, but don’t short change yourself. If you have questions ask your local shop owner (or one of your favorite bloggers) for advice… We all want for you to succeed!
Finally, join into your local riding and running community, I belong to both a local running club and a local cycling club. As you make friends in the community they will show you how to enjoy exercise (part of the enjoyment is derived from passing our happiness on to others so you’ll find us generous if you’re friendly).
That’s it. Three simple steps. If you follow this outline, show up on a regular basis and put in the effort, there absolutely will come a time where you no longer have to exercise – you will want it, need it and miss it when you’re unable to get out for your usual dose of awesome.
Some other decent tips:
Track your workouts on a GPS smartphone I’d you can, it’s a neat motivation tool, and it will help after you’ve met your goal – to keep your weight up (this is where I’m at now and if you think it’s fun shedding pounds, trying to keep them on is much more enjoyable).
Don’t rely on your “in the mirror” image of yourself to gauge your progress! I’ve been at this for ten years and while I write and talk about how awesome I am, my in the mirror image of myself isn’t always as good as it should be… Your occasional friends will be the one’s to let you know where you are… When you start hearing “geez, you really look good” and “you’ve trimmed up quite a bit, what’s your secret?” and “you look happy“…and you will, that’s when you know you’re on the right path.
If you’re struggling with motivation, remember, your gut hates you working out – it doesn’t want to disappear. There are many times I’ve repeated “my gut hates this” when I’d have rather skipped out on a run.
Run/ride with a friend once a week. While you’re out talk about the positive aspects of your new lifestyle – it’ll make you feel like a million bucks.
Don’t quit, remember that you are done being the person that you so didn’t want to be. If you’re having motivational challenges, suit up, start and let the rest work out in the wash – I’ve never once heard anyone say, or said myself, “meh, I wish I’d have stayed on the couch” after a workout.