I'll start... 10/20/17

“I’ll start after the holidays.” ”I’ll start after I get back from my vacation.” ”I’ll start after the baby is born.” ”I’ll start after I complete this project.” ”I’ll start next Monday.”

I am sure we all have either heard things like this uttered or we have uttered them ourselves hundreds if not thousands of times in our lifetime. While this could apply to myriad topics, I am, of course, talking about starting an exercise program. As a trainer, I have heard this more times than I can count. Whether it is nutrition or exercise we have an extremely difficult time getting started with a program. And honestly, starting is the easy part. The real difficulty is sticking with it. I read something once that 99% of resolutions are broke within one week. I believe it.

Back to getting started. THERE WILL NEVER BE THE BEST TIME TO GET STARTED. This is my firm conviction. There will always be work. There will always be kids. There will always be vacations. There will always be holidays. There will always be times of low energy. There will always be the busyness of life.

The best time to start is NOW. That is how anything in life gets accomplished. Having knowledge about something or sentiment towards something won’t cut it. Complaining to friends won’t cut it. Waiting for your schedule to magically open up will never happen. You have to make it happen. Somebody else can’t do it for you. And honestly, as a trainer, I have limitations as to how much of an impact I can make. I can coach somebody through all the aspects and stages of nutrition and exercise, but the client actually needs to do the work. What we do with our time when nobody is watching defines who we are and what our values are. It’s like looking at a person’s checking account. That will speak volumes about what they think is valuable or worth investing in.

Maybe that is part of the problem with lack of motivation in starting and sticking with an exercise program. What I mean is the society we live in, especially as Americans, is just saturated with ways to spend our money and time. We have been conditioned into being obsessed with entertainment and personal comfort. It’s human nature anyway, but everything in the world is shouting for our money and attention. Whether it is food, cars clothes, houses, iPod’s, TV’s, vacations or sports, we just can’t get enough pleasure.

You might ask, “What does my spending and entertainment habits have to do with starting an exercise program?” Well, I think it makes a big difference. I am just breaking the surface, but here are a few insights:

First, its the issue of time. Indulging in entertainment and personal comfort takes time. Time away from exercise or any type of personal improvement.

Second, it can have a more immediate gratification. It usually takes months for a nutrition and exercise program to make an impact. It only takes a few minutes to run to Best Buy and purchase the latest entertainment device.

Third, it dulls us. When our life is so full of “candy” we aren’t hungry for “dinner.” If we fill our life with “good” things, then we have no appetite for the “best.”

Fourth, it numbs us. Typically, there is pain associated with not having the fitness level we think we should. So, instead of letting that pain be a motivator, we cover it up by giving ourselves over to other types of pleasure. If we can feel good eating ice cream or driving a new sports car, then we don’t notice the pain of being unfit. I don’t think this is a conscience decision, it just happens.

Fifth, it’s easier. It appeals to the lowest common denominator that is in each of us. The idea of vacations, movies or going out to eat is to get a break from life. We give ourselves permission to disengage physically, mentally and emotionally. The problem is when this becomes more of a lifestyle rather than a treat, we get addicted to it. Then, anything that doesn’t give our pleasure center a fix will get shoved by the wayside. Being disciplined with nutrition and exercise is hard and it hurts.

So, what is the answer to this dilemma? I don’t think it is more knowledge. We live in the age of information. We have access to more research and information on any topic than any other time in history. Yet, as a population, us Americans are the least fit we have ever been.

The answer is as the famous Nike slogan goes, “Just do it!” There is no magic solution. The lack of time won’t go away. The need for discipline won’t go away. The issue of discomfort won’t go away. Remember, there will be no best hour, day, week, month or season. As I already said the best time is NOW. There is a huge difference between hearing and learning about something and actually doing it. In the Bible, James 1:23-24 says it perfectly when referring to spiritual truths (Which, by the way, I think is much more important than physical training. But, of course, this is a fitness blog.) ”For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror, for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.”

You don’t have to do it perfectly to do it. Just get started and you will get better over time. A toddler doesn’t stop trying to walk just because he can’t do it well at the beginning. For example, one missed workout or bad weekend of eating won’t ruin your program. Just pick yourself back up and get going again. The results will come from the sum total of the efforts over months. A few days or even a week won’t make or break anything. The best results will come from being steady, consistent and diligent.

The idea of attitude when it comes to embarking on an exercise and nutrition program is one aspect of Rock City Fitness 3-fold approach to training. I more thoroughly developed this concept in a previous post The Rock City Fitness Approach: Attitude.

Believe me, I don’t live this out perfectly. But, it keeps coming to the forefront of my mind. Hopefully this gets us thinking a little and helps jump start some positive changes. The best things in life are always difficult to obtain. My hope is that the tenacity, discipline and perseverance needed to improve our fitness becomes part of all the spheres of our life. These areas could include restoring a marriage, paying off debt, finishing college or adopting a child. My passion is that we don’t back down from the “mountainous” challenges of our lives. That we would go for the hard things because the upside and reward will make it all worth it. That we would not shirk away from those defining moments and miss the chance to leave an amazing legacy!

-Eric

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