7 Strategies To Put Fitness On Your Priority List
I wish I could say exercise comes naturally to me, but like most I struggle to stay motivated. Over the years, I’ve prioritized everything but exercise. For every yes, we say no to something. At the time, a yes to work or other things meant I was saying no to my own well-being. But I eat well, right? Not enough.
If you think exercise is not an integral part of longevity and well-being then you are wrong. I thought I could put it off until tomorrow. Well, tomorrow became five years. That’s right, for 5 years I pretty much didn’t exercise regularly. Boy, have I paid for that, too.
Prior to moving to Portland, my career took precedence over my health. I worked non-stop every day of the week and on holidays. I put everything ahead of exercise. My health was deteriorating. Work with my nutritionist (Margaret Floyd Barry, of course) showed some serious issues were not far off. Immediate action was necessary but not just around nutrition and supplementation. I need to change my relationship to exercise and, more importantly, my relationship to my own well-being.
Growing up, I always had this idea of what health looked like. Heck, media constantly reminds us time and again what a male physique is “supposed” to be. Six pack abs, defined biceps and triceps. Strong back and chest creating the v-shaped upper body leading to the small waist and muscular legs. Yes, men get stigmatized around body image, too. It’s just not talked about as much as the body-shaming women experience on a daily basis.
I know better as an adult, but, admittedly, there’s still this residual sense in me that a muscular body represents a healthy body. More importantly, I was telling myself this story that a fit body was unobtainable and impossible for me. Even as an adult, I made excuses as to why I couldn’t have a body like one of the Chrises (Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt or Chris Evans).
As I like to say when my 6 year old is obviously lying to me, I call BULL! I’m calling myself out. As an adult, I have a say in how my reality is written. I get to choose how I interpret and react to the world around me. The moment I catch myself making excuses for my choices is the moment something has to change.
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you may know that since December 2017, I’ve been tracking my workouts with the intention of meeting my physical goal. I’m actively rewriting this story of “can’t”.
I’ve been consistent, too. Workouts are usually 5-6 days a week. For the first 5 months I had guidance from a trainer and followed the workouts he set up for me in his app.
Here’s before (1/18/17) and after (3/7/18) pics from that time:
As you can see in the pics, my body was shifting. Yet, for whatever reason, not fast enough. I lost steam. I felt discouraged, which led me to fall off the wagon nutritionally and to half-hearted work outs.
Gratefully I’ve worked through the roadblocks and continue to overcome the resistance that pops up. Through it all, I have learned some big lessons that I hope will help you on your exercise journey.
7 Strategies To Put Fitness On Your Priority List
- Just do it
Don’t wait until tomorrow. Start today with a simple walk outside around the block. Exercise is body movement, period. Just get it done anyway you can. If you can’t get outside, play your favorite song and dance in your living room. Move your body. Ideally 30 minutes every day.
- Pay for it
The active exchange of money is a motivator for many people. Buy a gym membership, hire a trainer… If you’re paying for it, you’re more likely to use it.
- Get help
Don’t go at it alone. Hire a trainer, workout with a friend, follow an exercise app. If you were an expert at exercising then you’d be doing it. Don’t assume you know how to exercise. Many feel lost when they enter a gym despite knowing what to do. Knowing what your workout is for the day will make the exercise that much easier. Plus, having someone involved in your goal keeps you accountable. For most of us, the person or app supports and tracks what you’ve done. For others, we may need additional support in holding us accountable. This means communicating with a friend your exercise schedule and goals. Establish how you will follow up with that person to confirm you’ve met your exercise goals. That may be a simple text that you worked out or even better a pic of you post workout. Along these lines, have visuals for your goals. Don’t underestimate the power of daily reminders. It’s easy to derail so whatever keeps you on track is what needs to be done.
- Conscious Intention
Have conscious intention with your workouts. Just because you’re in your gym clothes doesn’t mean you worked out for the day. You want your exercise time to be efficient and effective. Don’t let your phone or social media distract you from your intention. I’ve had uninspiring days where I just half-heartedly worked out. It’s moments like those, putting down the phone, getting clear on my intentions and embracing my determination that ensure my workout is effective.
- Get sleep
This has been my #1 issue for years now. I got in the habit of staying up late to do all the work that I couldn’t do during the day. Or if not working, I stayed up late watching movies/TV to decompress. This was backwards thinking but I felt so deprived from “me” time that I stayed up late to do what I wanted to do. Problem was this just made my next day even harder for no good reason. Furthermore, if you have any sort of physical goals, you cannot achieve them without proper sleep. That’s a fact and one of the main reasons I haven’t reached my physical goals in nearly a year.
- Eat right
Maybe you’ve heard this by now, but weight-loss or physical transformation is 80% what you eat and about 20% your exercise. If you don’t have your diet in check, then working out will have little effect on you physically.
- Know your why
Why are you working out? External goals aren’t always enough. You need something close to your heart that motivates your choice. That can be a constant reminder why you have made the choice to be fit and healthy. My why is my kids. Hands down, I’m very clear I want to live as long as possible so that I can be in their lives. I’m in my 40s. These are vulnerable times. Nothing is a guarantee so making positive choices that prolong my life instead of shortening it are crucial.
Before you go, I wanted to share a recent instagram post from Rob McElhenney. Rob produces, writes and acts on the show, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. He consistently uses his screen character to comment on body image. As the newest season debuts, Rob posted a before and after shot of his body. He nails what it takes to achieve the celebrity body and reminds us to keep it real.
Look, it’s not that hard. All you need to do is lift weights six days a week, stop drinking alcohol, don’t eat anything after 7pm, don’t eat any carbs or sugar at all, in fact just don’t eat anything you like, get the personal trainer from Magic Mike, sleep nine hours a night, run three miles a day, and have a studio pay for the whole thing over a six to seven month span. I don’t know why everyone’s not doing this. It’s a super realistic lifestyle and an appropriate body image to compare oneself to. #hollywoood
What motivates you to exercise? What helps you to stay on track? Leave your comments below.If you think exercise is not an integral part of longevity and well-being then you are wrong.Click To Tweet
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