We live in an age where dedication to health and fitness dictates the lives of a growing number of people. Fitness models and health ambassadors are thriving in a sphere where everyone wants to look as good as their favourite social media celebrity. Although this manner of comparison can lead to toxic behaviour and depression, the raw emphasis on fit and healthy living is one to uphold. In this blog, while educating you on the best ways to stay healthy, I also want to urge you not to be caught within the negatives of health comparison. I want you to compete against yourself. In the end, the most significant challenges you will have to overcome, are the limitations set by yourself.
Staying Fit – Beating Yourself – Attitude
In the beginning, the biggest challenge won’t be the distance of the jog, the weight of dumbells nor the number of skips; the biggest challenge will be overcoming that which is most stubborn: You! Starting on the right track will demand facing reality – trust me, I am preaching to myself here – that your biggest problem is laziness. “Na, I’ll wake up early tomorrow” or “pfft, I’ve worked out once this week” are not valid excuses. These thoughts stem from your pursuit for comfort. This is exactly where your state of mind comes in. Attitude – and no, I am not talking rebel millennial type attitude. What I am trying to say is that you have to give kick yourself into gear and find that dogged drive towards consistency. You have to overcome your laziness and embrace a positive attitude. A thought that always inspires me is this:
“I am doing myself more harm by not facing the pain of exercise. Although it doesn’t hurt to sleep late or stay as comfortable as possible, my laziness will catch up to me. I will reap the negatives in the future, which will hurt far more than getting up early and lifting those weights, running the miles and overcoming my limits.”
You see, a fitness routine is not an impossible lifestyle, it is a choice. With enough mental training, anyone has the ability to overpower the wall of laziness. It starts here, today, with yourself.
Stay Fit – Finding Motivation
Well done, I am proud of you. You’ve finally admitted that you are the most significant factor that keeps fitness out of your reach. At this point, it is crucial not to be intimidated by the mountain that lies ahead. In my routine, I have been affected by this stage so often. You feel bad about yourself, doubt sets in and laziness starts to justify itself once more. The prediction of failure confronts your mind. Fatigue sets in after the first squat, and you can’t even make it to ten pushups. To make it all worse, you can hear your favourite Netflix series characters yelling at you to put the kettle on and get the popcorn ready. Don’t panic; this reality check is standard. Breathe, calm down and remember that you are competing against yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor were the fitness athletes you watch on the television.
At this point, you are most likely to lose focus and drop back into old habits – they do die hard. What you need is an inspiration (especially in the first month, where dropping pace is quite easy). Some of my favourite methods of staying motivated include:
- Talk to yourself. Self-motivation is vital. If you cannot talk yourself into a routine, you will drop off very quickly. Think of it as a team sport, except, your body and mind are the only members. Similar to a team, the most influential member’s demotivation will negatively affect the flow of the other players. In this case, your mind is vital. If you cannot support yourself mentally, your body will not follow. It would help if you learned how to back yourself. When it comes to this method, you should embrace an uplifting attitude – seriously, don’t verbally abuse yourself. Talk to yourself gently. “Just one more. You can do this. Let’s go.” Trust me; if you follow this tactic, you will notice that your mind can push your body further than you thought possible.
- Phone a friend who is into fitness, or wants to overcome the same challenges. Humans are meant to be together. Having a workout buddy can create the right level of motivation you require. Competition is natural, but should not be overdone. Instead, look to draw inspiration from a friend. Turning your workout routine into a social event will greatly benefit your rise as a fitness guru.
- Set realistic goals. It is very natural to aim for a fitness level that is unrealistic. What I propose is a slight goal shift, from short to long term. Don’t get me wrong, you can and should set those unrealistic goals: running a marathon, lifting a heavyweight or beating a certain amount of reps. What you shouldn’t attempt, is to achieve those goals in the blink of an eye – like my dad always says; the man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there. Short term goals are vital, as they will help you to give context and self-comparison to your workouts. Short term goals will also assist in your ability to find a source of motivation.
When it comes to motivation, you are in charge, once more. It won’t fall from the sky. Motivation has to be a conscious effort. You have to push yourself to find it.
Getting Into Your Stride
By this time, you have – hopefully – reached a point where your fitness isn’t a source of pain anymore. It has now become a healthy habit that you can even look forward to. You’re running faster, lifting heavier and reaching more. Heck, you are yet to see a slight tone in muscle, and you’re almost dead sure that an ab or two are making their presence known. This is one of my favourite stages. However, it is also a time where first-timers will require some extra top tips:
- Listen to your body. This is very, very important and something which I have ignored in the past. It is of utmost importance to always listen to your body. Do not exercise when you are sick or overly fatigued. It would help if you took rest days. If you do not listen to your body, you risk serious health implications and even death.
- A fit body was not built in a day. It is important to know that muscles grow while we rest. If you are continually exercising, you will hamper your ability to develop a better body. You do need off days.
- Low to Medium weight is where you impress. I promise you, any fitness expert worth their salt, will be more impress by a high level of medium weight reps in contrast to low heavy weight reps. Moderate to medium weight reps will help your body build resistance that is valuable within growing muscle and avoiding fatigue. The longer you can handle the medium weight, the stronger you will be. Eventually, you will easily be able to bench the big weights.
- Consistency. It is important not to be all over the show. When you’re exercising, you want to maintain a level of flexibility. Avoid blind exercising. Count every skip, lift and second. Conform to previous goals met. You can increase reps on the next workout.
I want to stress the context of this blog. I am not criticising, nor is it written to those who are plagued by severe injury or health condition. This blog is specifically for those who identify the problems listed within themselves. If you’ve found an inability to overcome laziness, I hope my thoughts can be of assistance. Always know that your body is made to excel. We are designed to be healthy and optimise who we are. There is still hope.
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