As we hurtle at teeth-rattling speed towards mid-year – some of us are taking stock of how successful we’ve been at achieving our ill-conceived New Year’s resolutions.
It’ll come as no shock that some of the most popular resolutions centre around weight-loss, increased exercise and healthy eating. It’s equally unsurprising that these resolutions often end up dead and buried long before the hangover fog has receded.
It seems counter-intuitive. After all few people would argue against the benefits of engaging in such healthy behaviours – yet we often do just that and often at our own peril. Why? For many it’s as simple as doing it for the wrong reasons – making a change that you don’t truly value isn’t sustainable. For others it’s a case of being overly vague in your intentions – clear goals must be articulated if you have a hope of intention being converted into action. And for some of us it’s about setting ourselves up for failure by blindly buying into the faulty thought processes surrounding the idea of exercise.
Let’s see if any of the following well-worn excuses feel vaguely familiar.
“I’m not the exercising type”
Physiologically speaking, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Our bodies are designed for movement. From our carefully crafted skeleton, to our intricately flexible muscles and tendons, to our oxygen carrying vascular system – every part of us is made for action. With our lifestyles becoming increasingly sedentary we have sadly lost sight of this fact.
Further proof of this is that our brains, emotions and social well-being are all positively impacted on by engaging in physical activity. We can think more clearly when we have oxygen pumping through our veins, we feel uplifted when endorphins are released via our endocrine system and we re-connect with the people around us when we emerge from our technological cocoons and are physically present with others.
“I’ll never look as good as …… so why bother?”
Competition can be an effective motivator – if used correctly. However, engaging in a pointless exercise of self-comparison between yourself and the current ‘It’ celebrity is simply soul destroying and the quickest way to sabotage your efforts.
Each and every one of us is a unique creation and its time we embrace and celebrate this reality. Shift your focus away from others and strive to become the best version of yourself that you can. The version of yourself that is healthy, happy and capable of great things.
Enter into the process with a realistic assessment of who you are and select and adapt your exercise activities to meet goals that are aligned to your unique characteristics. You may need help with this as we often aren’t the best judges of our own strengths and weaknesses.
“It’s too expensive and I can’t afford it right now”
Let’s break this one down. With the sharp increase in the availability of gyms, membership costs have gotten increasingly affordable. In addition, a number of loyalty programs mean that going to the gym can potentially save you money in other areas.
Of course you can always opt for exercising at home which is certainly cheaper over the long term. While some may view the cost of home gym equipment as being high, if one starts slowly and purchases only one or two key pieces initially, it needn’t break the bank. One can add additional equipment over time as your needs change and your bank balance allows.
There are also a number of exercise alternatives that involve minimal costs – walking, running, yoga or engaging in body resistance training simply requires the purchasing of suitable workout gear for you to get started.
Comparatively speaking the cost of not exercising is much higher than anything you’re likely to spend on your exercise regimen – escalating healthcare costs and the potential loss of income due to ill-health and disability will set you way further back on your path to financial stability.
“I’m just not a gym person”
With the proliferation of gyms that we have experienced in recent decades we are now presented with a veritable menu of options to select from. Gyms, like people come with their own personalities and special focus areas, and given some experimentation and time it’s likely that you can find one that suits you and your needs.
Take advantage of visitor/day passes often offered by gyms to get a feel for what’s on offer and to decide whether it’s the right fit for you. Most gyms also offer a wide selection of programs, equipment, and activities so you can find the workout that helps you achieve your fitness goals and which you enjoy.
Still not convinced? There are plenty of ways to increase your activity levels without going to a gym – walking, running, swimming, playing sport, taking up yoga etc. are just some of the avenues that you can pursue – don’t give up before you’ve found what works for you.
“I never have the time”
We are all blessed with the same 24 hours each day. There are many people who are even busier than you, who manage to make exercise a part of their routine. The fact is we make time for that which interests us and is important to us. The solution? Identify an activity that is enjoyable for you and link it to a goal that holds meaning for you.
Science is also on our side here. Research indicates that we don’t need to exercise for hours on end to see and feel the benefits. As little as 30 minutes, 3 times a week can already make a profound difference in terms of your health. In addition, exercise is cumulative – this means you can break up your exercise into smaller chunks throughout the day and still reap the rewards. Few of us can seriously argue that we cannot find a spare 10 minutes here and there to do some form of exercise.
While no one can promise to increase the number of hours in your day, it’s a safe bet that increasing your activity levels can improve your life expectancy – in essence, therefore actually granting you extra time rather than stealing it.
“Exercise is boring”
OK, so some of us are never going to become yoga converts, and for some the thought of engaging in an hour long cross-fit session is enough to send you screaming for the hills. That being said, with a bit of experimentation and patience you can find a form of activity that is stimulating to you, both mentally and physically.
To help you along the way, try and combine your exercise initiatives with more pleasurable activities as extra motivation – for example, rocking out to your favourite music while spinning, or watching your favourite 20 min sitcom while doing some weight training or listening to an audiobook while taking a brisk walk.
“It’s too late for me to start now, I’m too (old, over-weight, unfit) to exercise”
While it’s true that turning back time is still only a possibility in sci-fi dramas, it’s never too late to undo some of the damage caused from poor lifestyle choices. Even small changes can help improve the quality of life going forward. The aim? Start small and simple and be consistent in your efforts. Remember it’s much easier to lift the performance bar when it’s starting point is on the ground. The vast majority of exercise programs have versions designed for beginners or for the older individual – don’t try and do too much, too soon – you’re setting yourself up to fail when you really don’t need to.
So rather than scrapping those drunken New Year’s resolutions, replace it with a revised one. Take the time to really think and identify your why – why do I want to start exercising? What do I want to get out of it and why is it important to me? Until you’ve identified this it’ll be difficult to make a radical lifestyle change. Be prepared to stumble and perhaps even fall – the goal should never be for perfection but for improvement. Make a sound investment in your future good health.