The positive aspects and benefits that you get from exercise are endless but to get there it takes a lot of effort and enduring what's difficult, which is why it's best to start off by focusing on the hard stuff.
Maybe you're thinking of exercising for the first time, getting back into a fitness routine, or you're already on the go and making it happen. No matter where you're at there's some things you NEED to come to terms with if you're going to do things the right way and see consistent results.
In order to not be defeated and give up when things get tough along your fitness path, and they will get tough, it's vital that you accept some hard truth(s) first.
Getting started is easy. At the beginning, motivation and excitement are at their peak. Then you show up and very quickly you start to realize that what you've signed up for is not easy at all.
HERE'S A GLIMPSE OF WHAT THE UNPREPARED MAY GO THROUGH IN A WEEK:
Your first workout felt amazing and you felt invigorated on the way home.
The next day your motivation fades a bit and showing up is a bit more difficult even though you're still excited. You finish your second workout, you feel good, but not as good as the first day.
Day three: you start to have negative thoughts about working out. You show up to the gym anyway. The workout starts off slow and sluggish. Somehow you finish strong though, you're feeling better. You get home to a messy place with little time to clean and prepare food. Down time evaporates. The pressures of life weigh on your mind, that better feeling gets lost, and you find it hard to sleep through the night.
The next morning: you hit the snooze button. You decide to skip your workout because the pace you set is too much to take, at least that's what you're telling yourself.
Day 5: You literally drag yourself to the gym. Motivation is running low and your workout isn't much of a workout. You leave feeling defeated and low energy.
The weekend arrives. You decide to give yourself some "well deserved rest" to recover. While you're resting you realize that the next week is fast approaching alongside your workout plans.
You make a decision to keep up with your workouts but end up just going through the motions, unmotivated, half-effort, to your own detriment.
Eventually, you quit working out all together, or just for a while (so you say), which is the case for most.
TAKE OFF THE BLINDERS!
The majority of individuals start off running into their new exercise routine on a high, without ever visualizing the long-term commitment or considering the obstacles they're BOUND to face. Before they know it they call it quits and give up for good or an extended period of time.
Some press on without truly visualizing the long-term commitment required or grasping the mindset that it takes to continue showing up with a POSITIVE OUTLOOK ON THE WORST OF DAYS.
Few mentally prepare for the fact that there is no finish line when it comes exercise, fitness, working out, and eating clean . . . healthy living.
These individuals show up consistently, understanding the importance of what they're doing and how it impacts their life as a whole, ESPECIALLY THEIR FAMILY. As a result, they embrace the obstacles and growing pains of daily discipline when it comes to exercise and health.
They show up with a smile and enthusiasm that becomes a part of who they are, propelling them forward towards their endless future workouts.
That's what I hope for you. That you eventually become one of the few, which takes time. But for now, I hope this inspires you to keep chipping away despite the difficulties, I hope you keep showing up.
It's time to take off the blinders and realize the path to success in your health will be difficult to say the least, but it's worth it . . .
Here's THREE TRUTHS for you to dwell upon that will help you become one of the few:
1) IT WILL "SUCK" MOST OF THE TIME
The fact that we have to workout and exercise to sustain our health sucks. It's no different than brushing your teeth, dressing yourself, showering, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, running errands, and the list goes on and on. It never ends. But you have to, and you MUST, do these things to take care of yourself and thrive.
Who really enjoys putting the body through pain consistently each week other than a few wild cards out there? I mean, at the end of the day, when you get home from working extra hours at the office and you're drained . . . do you really enjoy the fact that it's in your best interest to shower and brush your teeth before bed?
Answer: No. And I'm sure we've all had those evenings where you skip brushing your teeth and passed out the moment you hit the sheets, too exhausted to move.
It would be nice if the mundane things in life took care of themselves. Imagine if there was a button that we could press and all of these things were done for us. It's a brief and blissful thought but not reality. Brushing your teeth and taking a shower is required daily to sustain your health, so is exercising.
It sucks, it really does. The sooner you come to terms that it's always going to "suck" and there is no end for daily human upkeep, the sooner you'll be at peace with the gym and exercise.
A quick tip to wrapping your mind around the struggle of working out with no end in sight:
Be grateful that you still have the ability to workout and consider those who still go to the gym all the time despite their physical limitations and circumstances in life . . . or just stop making excuses and suck it up (no offense).
2) IT WILL ALWAYS BE PAINFUL
You've heard it before, probably more than once: "No Pain, No Gain".
That quote has been increasingly stated over the years. In fact, #nopainnogain has been used as a hashtag more than 22 million times and counting on Instagram as of today's date. Here's the link if you want to see exactly where it's at right now:
And that's just the amount of times this term has been used on Instagram. Imagine how often it's used on other social media platforms, let alone said out loud.
It's used so much because it's true, you have to put your body through a certain amount of pain and discomfort to achieve your desired outcome, just like anything in life. Then you have to keep enduring a certain amount of pain to maintain where you're at..
Your fitness goals will vary but the constant commonality for everyone is that reaching and sustaining them is always going to be uncomfortable and painful to an extent.
A quick tip to realizing that no matter what your fitness goals are, even if it's just to sustain a basic level of health over a long period of time:
The pain isn't going away so you might as well become friends with it . . . or don't befriend pain and live with even more of it down the road.
3) THERE IS NO FINISH LINE
This is one of my favorite topics as of late, how there is no end to doing what it takes to see results. What do you think happens when you achieve a goal and then stop doing what you did to get there in the first place? Eventually nothing happens.
When you stop doing what you did to achieve a certain goal, you begin to slowly drift away from that place and state of being until it's non-existent. It's much like the expression "Never sleep on a win". Because once you win and the celebration ends, what's next? If you don't know you'll be stuck, stagnant, and atrophied.
Imagine running your first marathon and crossing the finish line close to or faster than you hoped for. You celebrate your amazing achievement. Eventually you go home. You recover.
Once you heal from the marathon do you stop running and exercising completely? You certainly can. But your fitness level will regress and the level of endurance that you've built up and earned within your mind and body will soon wither away!
Now, I'm not saying you need to pursue marathons or the like for the rest of your life. However, I am saying that you'll need to consistently engage and commit to some sort of exercise long-term if you intend on living the remainder of your life in a healthy state.
The sooner you understand that there is no such thing as a finish line when it comes to exercise, the easier it will be to show up and get it in.
A quick tip to understanding what "there is no finish line" means:
Your very own eulogy and epitaph, your actual finish line, will be a reality much sooner than later if you continue living like your exercise days are over . . . keep showing up and working out for the sake of your family and future generations.
IT'S TIME TO FACE THE TRUTH
Consider this: before an army is conscripted to war, they prepare tactically and mentally for every situation that may occur. Especially things that could and will go wrong or cause difficulty. The uncomfortable situations are going to happen and it's best to be ready for them rather than ignore them.
Your preparation for fitness should be no different than one preparing for war. Any form of pursued exercise is a battlefield of it's own. It's a battle between you and you. The aim is to be as efficient and effective with your workouts as possible so you can win in life.
If you start with the hard truths about fitness, it makes exercise much easier to approach. Once you know the obstacles that you'll be facing you can plan accordingly. And once you've developed a plan of attack it's time to fight and go to war!
Prepare your mind before you workout as if you're fighting for your life, because you actually are. Tell yourself this: it's going to suck, it's going to be painful, it's never going to end . . . but I'm going to keep showing up anyways.
It's time to face the truth and press on. Take the blinders off and come to terms with the challenges of exercise before you rush into your next workout. Purely relying on the feel-good aspects of fitness will only get you to the right spot, it will never get you through to the other side.
Don't forget to apply these tips:
Suck it up if it sucks, befriend pain or you'll have more pain to deal with down the road, and exercise to extend the date of your very own eulogy and epitaph.
Don't forget what truly drives the human spirit to press on:
Faith, family, friends, and helping those in need.
Get Fit, Stay Fit, Enjoy Life!
Stephen C. Langhjelm
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
Health & Wellness Advocate