Inviting fitness into your life is, hands-down, one of the best things you can do for your mind, body and soul. Forget that it will help you get a “fit” body – because that’s really more of a side effect of fitness. The real benefit is the cascade effect of transformation it brings about. Fitness will reach into every corner of your day-to-day life; it will improve every part of you, strengthen every little thing that makes you, you.
While I get so excited when someone starts to get into fitness, a secret part of me knows that the chances of success are significantly less than that initial enthusiasm would seem to suggest. But my doubts aren’t about judging others or blaming them for not following through. On the contrary, I want others to succeed, but I know how hard it is to develop habits – and building the habit of fitness into your life takes a very, very long time.
Because that’s what fitness is: a habit. The only way to actually get into fitness is to build it as a habit in your life, and there are many obstacles you will face. Getting “fit” is as much about overcoming those obstacles as it is about getting a “good” body.
Three Big Obstacles You’ll Face When Getting into Fitness
Like any relationship or job or life change, know that the first year or more of hitting the gym will be trial and error. Fitness is not a get-fit-quick weekend bootcamp, and “fit” is not something you arrive at like a graduation ceremony. To work, fitness needs to become a part of your life in the same way as eating food, going to work, sleeping.
Challenge the part of your mind that approaches fitness as a temporary thing you endure before arriving at the end goal of being fit. Click here to watch a great little video that captures what I’m speaking about here in a really clever way.
For fitness to become a part of your life, other habits will need to change. Consider that this is a new thing in your life that will occupy part of your schedule. Fitness will absorb a part of the week, and the week after, and the week after that, etc. This means that other habits in your life will be affected – you might need to skip that last glass of wine, or pass up meeting your buddy after work, or go to bed earlier.
Remember that we are creatures of habit and any change to those habits, no matter how big or small, requires effort. It isn’t that change isn’t doable; it’s more that we forget just how challenging it can be to change.
The hardest parts of my workouts are not that last heavy rep I eke out, or the extra km I run when I’ve got nothing left. All of that is easy compared to the will power it requires to actually get up and go to the gym. I have been going to the gym regularly for seven years now, and I’m telling you that while it does get easier to get up and go, it never gets easy. And in fact the only reason it’s easier is because I’ve gotten better at ignoring the part of my brain that wants me to skip the gym and stay in bed or on the couch.
Never underestimate the sheer force of will it will take to get yourself to the gym.
So – Have I scared you off? 😀
If so, that isn’t my intention. On the contrary, my goal is to prepare you for what truly comes with getting into fitness. Preparation is the key to success for pretty much everything; the same is true for getting fit.
How to Actually Get into Fitness? Try This
Rushing out to buy the best gym gear and then jumping into an intense routine from bodybuilding.com is inspiring in its intention; however, not altogether practical. Before you do any of that I would recommend tackling the three obstacles I’ve outlined: time, change, and will.
There are a lot of big questions you could ask yourself to prepare for how to approach these obstacles, but hold off for now. Leave all of those questions on the back burner and instead try this:
That’s it, just walk.
Of all the exercises out there, from CrossFit to high-intensity interval training to marathon running, walking remains one of the best exercises because it is practical, non-stressful for the body and mind, and functions as a gateway into other forms of exercise.
Start by fitting a walking routine into your week to prime yourself for tackling the three obstacles. Here’s how it works:
- Time: Find time in your week to commit to a walking routine.
a. When will you go for your walks?
b. Is there some way you could integrate the walk into your week (e.g., walking to work)?
- Change: Consider how your walking routine will affect your other habits and routines.
a. Will you need to get up earlier in the mornings?
b. Is there anything you regularly do that might be affected?
- Will: The best way to strengthen your will is to design a program that you commit to following – then the program decides for you when it’s time to go for a walk. Your program will need three things:
a. How long will you walk for during each session? (e.g, 30 min., 40 min., etc.)
b. How many times a week will you walk? (e.g., three times, four times, etc.)
c. What total duration will your walking routine go for? (e.g., 1 month, 2 months, etc.)
d. What time of day will you go? (e.g., morning, night, etc.)
e. Which days of the week will you go? (e.g., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)
Here’s a sample weekly routine you could try for one month:
Tips for Making Your Walking Routine a Success
- I would highly suggest not listening to music or audio books while you walk. Take this time to be present in the moment, in your body, with your thoughts. Look at the world around you; listen to the sounds; breath the air. Focus on how your body feels. Music is generally about distracting us from the present moment; take this opportunity to be present.
- Don’t rush out and buy new shoes or clothes. Start with what you have, then – as you go – if you find you need new stuff, then go out and buy it. If you bring a bag with you, I’d recommend a comfortable backpack rather than a satchel or purse that pulls your body one way or the other.
- Focus on your posture while you’re walking: chest up, shoulder blades retracted, eyes forward. Avoid stomping on your heels and try to distribute the impact between the three points on your foot (your heel and the two pads at the front). Walk with mindfulness about your body and walk with grace and confidence.
While the walking routine might seem, at first glance, to be too easy, keep top of mind that your goals aren’t to “get-fit-quick” – but rather the following:
- To commit to something for a pre-determined period of time
- To practice fitting your new routine into your pre-existing weekly routine
- To get a feel for how your other habits may be affected or need to be adjusted to accommodate the new routine
- To prime your will power to get up and get out there and do something good for your mind, body and soul
- To begin to strengthen the connection between your mind and body through mindfulness and being present in the moment
If you felt discouraged by my earlier warnings, I hope you leave this article with the feeling that, Hey, I can actually do this. Because you can. You actually can get into fitness by taking it slow, preparing yourself, and simply tying up your shoelaces and going for a walk.