It's the 3rd week of January. Did you set a fitness resolution or a 2017 exercise goal? How are you doing? Usually week 3 is where things start getting real. And by real, I mean real hard. The sparkle of newness wears off, enthusiasm wanes, the gym is crowded, and it seems that excuses are easier than actually getting off your tush and getting it done. So what’s a Resolutioner to do when times start getting tough and the excuses are free flowing?
1. Remind yourself of your intention. Why did you make that resolution? What are you hoping to gain from making it happen?
The resolution: This year I will exercise. I will go the gym 5x per week for 1 hour to improve my cardiovascular health and finally lose those extra pounds I put on after having my last baby 4 years ago.
The intention and the why: I want to improve my health so I can keep up with my kids and I want show them by example what it means to be a healthy mom. In addition, I’ve heard exercising helps increase your energy levels, and, as we all know, moms are always tired. I'm always tired and I want more energy.
2. Assess your goal. Was it too ambitious? How could you make the goal more attainable if it’s not right now?
Our Mom was not exercising before she set this resolution, but, she’s determined that this is THE year. Let’s put this goal into perspective with a little math:
5 workouts per week x (1 hour per workout + travel and shower time) = ~8 hours per week
This ambitious mom just asked herself to find and dedicate an extra 8 hours a week to her already busy schedule of family and work. That’s A LOT of time to add to your schedule. Maybe you’re thinking now that we make time for the things we want to do. I completely agree, but this mom does not like to workout, so at week 3 when things get tough, 7.5 hours slips to 4, then 2, then, 1, then the “Never mind, I’ll try again next year. I’m too busy, tired, stressed out, you-fill-in-the-blank to go the gym” sets in. And, just like that, she’s done.
Take a moment now to notice how are you doing with your resolution? Are you in “excuses mode?” If so, it’s time to re-assess your goal and make it more realistic. Are you starting an exercise routine this year? I frequently suggest to new clients who are not currently exercising to make the effort to get to the gym (pack your gym bag, schedule the time, etc.) and then stay for 10-20 minutes 2-3x per week for a couple weeks. Use this time to experiment. What time of day works best? How long does it take you to transition in and out of your workout (changing, shower, makeup, etc.)? What do you need to make yourself successful? Those 1.5-2 hours will teach you a lot and are a big deal. Seriously. Like Page said a couple weeks ago, baby steps. When you are ready to add more time, add it.
3. Help! Your resolution was reasonable, but, your brain is still stuck on “excuses.” Now what?
First off, know that’s normal. We ALL have days that we just don’t feel like it. I love to run and I teach exercise for a living and there are still times I have to peel myself off the couch to workout. In these moments, we are often tired and/or overwhelmed. Our brains default to "Overload in progress. Do. Not. Do. Anything. Else." and to make it easy to comply, the excuses start streaming in. Combat the excuses by pre-deciding what you will do in this scenario. The decision will become much easier because you won't have to think about it in the moment. My Move-When-I-Don't-Feel-Like-It Plan is to grab my pup (who starts jumping around at the mention of "walk" or "run") and treat myself to my latest Audible selection. I love listening to stories. It's something I save specifically for hard or mundane tasks as purposeful distraction. Once I'm listening, I find myself getting lost in the plot and before I know it, Zoe and I have been a few miles around our neighborhood. To get a few more ideas, I polled the RFC staff and here's what they said:
“I connect with a loved one. Ultimately I end up getting reminded why leading a healthy lifestyle is important to me. I do it for them.” ~ Pam Cole
"I play, “Intro” by the XX. It was the first song on the first Kona [Ironman Triathlon] mashup I ever watched, 2:07 of anticipation before a workout. “Intro” was actually the last song before my current dead lift PR and 10k PR." ~Ryan Wands
"Working out with others, committing to specific days and times when I know others are expecting me to be there to run or lift weights…I show up!" ~Jennifer Strobel
"Knowing that I'm being a good role model for my kids gets me out the door for a run - especially on a cold day!" ~Dany Losh
“My puppy is a huge motivating factor for me. I know that her health depends on me getting off my couch to walk or run her each night. I also keep in mind the type of behavior I will have to deal with if I don’t get her the activity she needs.” ~Chelsea Jones
"My children motivate me to get up and move. They don’t sit still, so I don’t sit still either." ~Leigh Howell
"When I don’t feel like exercising, I first ask myself to dig to find the real reason of the inclination to stay still. If I need stillness, and this is a legitimate option, I take several deep breaths and notice how I feel. If I’m tired, I try to rest. If I just don’t “feel” like it, it’s typically because I’m sleep deprived or in pain, so I give myself the benefit of the doubt and see if it lasts. Typically, just wrestling with the decision leads me to eventually want to move. And when the verdict is stillness, I do my best to accept it without guilt." ~Rebecca Allen
"When my black lab suddenly appears with my shoe hanging out of his mouth, and refuses to drop it….I know he’s in need of a good workout and is telling me to get moving." ~Cheryl Wheelock
"1 - Making a pact with a friend to meet at yoga on Saturday mornings even though I might want to sleep in. This holds me accountable! 2 - Registering for a workshop or class. If I sign up, I’ll go! 3 - I park far away from my building. Although this isn’t formal exercise, it adds movement. If I want to get home, I have to walk to my car. No exceptions…even when it rains I do this! 4 - Instead of driving to buildings on campus, I walk. I’ve made a commitment in the last six months that if I can’t walk to get coffee, I don’t need to go. 5 - Keeping a journal. Every night for the last year, I write in my journal when I go to bed. My prompts are ones I created to keep me motivated. They’ve worked!" ~Celeste Cooper-Peel
"I search motivational workout videos on YouTube. If they're doing it, I can do it!" ~Joey Davis
Take a deep breath and devise your plan. What will get you moving when you "just don't feel like it?" Make it easy on yourself and pre-decide right now and then share below. We'd love to hear from you!
Side note: As Rebecca mentioned above, there ARE legitimately times when you should skip the workout. Read more about it here>>.