Enthusiasm can be our worst enemy. And of course, a great ally when harnessed correctly. From an acute standpoint our initial enthusiasm about starting an exercise program can help us get off to a great start and keep us motivated for some time. I have seen though on many occasions a new client be overly enthusiastic to the point that they make themselves so sore or uncomfortable and possibly even injure themselves that their efforts our derailed almost instantaneously. When starting an exercise program one’s enthusiasm needs to be tempered carefully so that continual progress can be achieved. We can’t expect to go from zero to sixty without our bodies paying for it. The point of this article is to learn how to manage expectations so that we can have a realistic outlook on achieving success in the long run.
Understanding ones goals is important when starting an exercise program. We all have goals. I want to lose weight. I want to be able to run a 5k. I want to be healthy enough to enjoy playing with my grandchildren. We have to though manage our expectations when trying to accomplish these goals. We didn’t gain that extra weight over the course of a month or two. We didn’t get out of shape just yesterday. It is going to take time to reach our goals. We have become so accustomed to the quick fix and so often are persuaded that there is a magic formula to reaching that goal.
We are going to have setbacks. This should be an expectation. This is one of the points that I try to hammer home to new clients. We are so excited that we are working out more often than we ever have. We set a new standard for ourselves. We create expectations for ourselves that may begin to become too rigid or unrealistic for our present circumstances. Then we have a setback and it all comes crashing down around us. When starting an exercise program it is important to remind yourself that we are making a lifestyle change. We are committing ourselves to new habits and goals. We should expect these new habits to take some time to solidify and we should expect our goals to take time.
Much of the challenge is overcoming human nature. It is important to keep in mind that fifteen minutes of exercise is always better than no exercise. Thirty minutes is always better than fifteen, and forty-five is often better than thirty. But fifteen is still always better than nothing. We tend to develop a mind-set that if I can’t do a certain amount of exercise than it’s not worth doing it at all. This is an attitude that must be discarded immediately.
Don’t focus on what you didn’t get done last week or on what you didn’t accomplish during your last workout. Focus on what you can do today. Just put in the time. Regardless as to whether you have fifteen, twenty or only thirty minutes to exercise: just do it. You will get more fit, you will be able to run further and faster. You will start to lose some weight. Start developing the discipline and the rest will fall into place. Expect it too.