We all know the reasons we should exercise, right?
Regular workouts give us energy, strength, a trimmer body, a healthier heart, a calmer mind … and that’s just the start of a long list of benefits that would make our lives better, sweeter and more satisfying.
And yet, so many of us end up being exercise dropouts. At least 50 percent of people who start an exercise program call it quits within the first 3-6 months.
Why? Why do some folks manage to stick with it while others fail?
There is a right way and a wrong way to approach exercise. Do it thoughtlessly, foolishly - bad attitude, unrealistic expectations, etc. - and you are setting yourself up to fail. Do it as a conscious being capable of enlightened thinking, and your chances of life-long success are greatly improved.
Here are the main ways in which people sabotage their own fitness:
- You aren’t truly committed.
Saying you want to get in shape is not enough. You must have a deep down, nothing-will-stop-me commitment. Developing an appetite for exercise will take work and time. Change will happen only when you are ready
- You have failed before.
Most people don’t understand that change is not linear. It’s often two steps forward, one step back. Exercise dropouts have failed before, and the fear of failing again often makes them quit. You can break this self-defeating cycle by taking fear of failure off the table. Know you can succeed, and you will succeed, if you are patient and persistent.
- You punish yourself instead of rewarding yourself.
Negative self-talk will derail you. Listen to your inner voice. If it tells you you’re lazy, stupid, ate too much and can’t get to the gym today, shut it down. Permanently. Start a new inner dialogue based on kindness and compassion for the healthier, happier person you are worthy of becoming. Create positive affirmations - I am doing my best; I am capable of change and growth - and repeat them often.
- You compare yourself to others.
Bill regularly runs half-marathons and you struggle with a 10K.
Irene can cycle 40 miles and you can barely finish 20. So what? Jealousy and envy are counterproductive and will lead you astray. Run your own race at your own pace. If you see others who are stronger, more flexible, thinner, more athletic, be happy for them … smile … and return your focus to your own situation. Be grateful you have a situation.
- You refuse to keep a journal.
If you can’t take five minutes a day to write down the exercise you did, how you felt, future goals, etc., then how serious are you about changing your life? Keeping a journal is a great tool for staying on track.
- You expect quick results.
Impatience is a big problem for people just starting to exercise regularly. You expect immediate results. When you don’t see them, you find a reason to quit. Grow up. Take it day by day. Find joy in just showing up. In time, all the benefits of regular exercise will come your way. But it takes the time it takes.
- You enjoy being the victim.
Many exercise dropouts blame their failure on someone or something: I can’t take time away from my kids. My job is too demanding. I travel too much. These are excuses created to test your true intention. When you take responsibility for your own health and wellness, you give up being a victim and start living the active, balanced, joyful life you deserve and have always wanted.
Marilynn Preston is a fitness expert, personal trainer and speaker on healthy lifestyle issues. She welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to MyEnergyExpress@aol.com.