I had been thinking about starting this blog for some time now. It occurs to me that the process I’ve gone through is not unlike what someone goes through when they are thinking about starting an exercise program. It’s common for many (if not all really) of my clients to confide in me that they have been thinking about starting an exercise program for a long time — three months, six months, even years.
So what is it that will determine the success of this blog? Will writing a few good articles be enough? Of course not. Success will be measured much like it is measured for individuals starting an exercise program. Will I still be blogging in six months or a year? Will I still be exercising three months, six months or a year from now? This should be the ultimate goal and brings me to the main point of this post.
One of the first things I discuss with a new client is the need to develop discipline. Discipline is a scary word. I try to take the fear and apprehension out of this concept and discuss it in terms of keeping your eye on the long term goal. That is to say: success will be measured not by any single workout in a single day or even during a period of weeks or months but rather by what we can accomplish over the next six months or a year. As a result, I tell new clients not to focus on the make-up of a specific workout but rather on just putting in the time.
Are you exercising? Are you maintaining consistency? Are you putting in the time? This is the key to developing discipline, habit and long term success. So what is it that so often derails people? Well more often than not, life of course. We have jobs, children, and other obligations not entirely in our control. We’ve all experienced the pattern. We enthusiastically begin an exercise program, getting our workout in two, three, even four times a week. We haven’t felt this good in years. Then we get sick, injured or have a business trip, or a project at work that is keeping us chained to our desk ten or more hours a day. We miss our workout on Monday, then Tuesday and Wednesday. We feel guilty each day we miss another workout. Finally, we have an opportunity on Friday, but tell ourselves instead, we’ll start fresh on Monday. Fighting against this natural impulse is the moment of truth and often critical to developing that long-term habit that is so paramount to success. You may have had a miserable week, missed workout after workout, but you have to take the opportunities when you get them to continue to develop this new discipline.
Do I have to work out hard? Am I a failure if I can’t finish that new workout? I only have twenty minutes, is it even worth bothering? I don’t care what you end up accomplishing when you get to the gym. I don’t care if you can’t make it through your entire routine because you are worn out mentally or emotionally. I don’t care if you can only put in twenty minutes or even fifteen. I do care that you make it to the gym. That you put in the time. Regardless of what you may accomplish that day, you are laying the foundation for success.Exercise is a self-perpetuating activity — exercise reinforces our desire to continue to exercise. For some it is the success of losing weight. For some it is the bigger biceps or the ability to run a little further or a little faster this time. For many it is about just feeling good that they got it done. Sometimes our expectations also get in the way. I’ll post about how to manage those soon. Until then, go put in the time!