Improving health and fitness is a goal for millions of people around the world every year. Everyone has been told the benefits of being healthier. Everyone knows that regular exercise and healthy eating habits will make them live longer, feel stronger, look better, and be the envy of much of their social circle. Then why do millions of people make a new years resolution every year to become fitter and healthier, and then don’t do it? Why are so many commercial gyms able to turn a profit on the back of countless memberships that will be forever unused? The answer is actually very simple.
People hate change.
Right down to our bones, we as a species hate change. What we like even less than change is sacrificing something that we DO enjoy. This is key when it comes to health and fitness. What people do not realise when they embark on a journey to lose weight or gain muscle or get a six-pack, or whatever their goal, is that to reach that goal you will need to sacrifice a part of your current life. This is where people come undone.
Think about it. You want to go to the gym four times a week for two hours each time? That is great! You have a workout plan ready to go that was written for you by an expert and you are confident you can achieve exactly what you set out to achieve. But then after a few weeks you decide to stay home one day and play with your dog, or trim the plants in your garden, or anything else you love doing. Then this happens again and again until you are no longer going to the gym, you are no longer eating healthily, and you are right back where you started. Most people say that this is because you burnt out or that people’s body type and ability to maintain an exercise regime is predetermined. Not true.
The reason people stop working out is because they did not anticipate the changes they would need to make. If you decide to go to the gym or go for a run or do any form of new activity for two hours a day, four days a week, that is eight hours of your week you need to set aside. We’ll make it 10 hours, because you probably require half an hour to prepare and travel to your destination each day. So we have 10 hours of your week that will now be devoted to exercise and fitness. There are almost certainly more hours needed to deal with the nutrition side of things, but we will focus on the exercise for now. 10 hours. Think you can do that?
Now, free up 10 hours in your schedule. This is the big thing. I don’t just mean put aside 10 hours and promise to make it up later, I mean clean out 10 hours. Health and fitness is a lifelong journey that does not end, so you will be doing those 10 hours a week for a long time. You can’t just take the 10 hours out of your sleeping time, because then you will be too tired to work during the day. You can’t cut 10 hours from family time, because family is important. You also can’t get rid of 10 hours at work every week, because you need to pay the bills. People often just say they will take the 10 hours out of their free time, but you do lots of things in that free time. That is probably when you watch your favourite TV shows, talk to friends on Facebook, schedule dinner dates with your significant other or your group of friends, do your gardening, attend cooking classes, or any number of other things. At least one of these things needs to go.
You need to clear that 10 hours from your schedule permanently, and you need to clear it by eliminating certain things that you may enjoy but that are not necessities. If you play video games for three hours a day, there you have it. Play video games for only 1 hour a day and you’re sweet. The problem is that you like playing video games for 3 hours a day, otherwise you wouldn’t do it to begin with. You don’t enjoy training yet. You come home sore, tired, and stiff. So you desperately want to go back to playing your video games instead of training, and eventually you will cave into this, because in your mind it is only a temporary thing and you will eventually get back to playing for 3 hours a day.
Fitness is not temporary.
To become as fit and healthy as you want to be, you will need to be exercising regularly for the rest of your life and planning healthy meals and all sorts of other things that contribute. This means that if you truly want to be fit and healthy you will need to actually change your life. Your fitness needs to become one of your hobbies. You cannot sustain a fitness regime while despising it at the same time. You will eventually succumb to your cravings for whatever you would be doing if you were not exercising, or your cravings for whatever you would be eating if you weren’t eating your grilled chicked salad. If you grow to love your fitness and everything that goes into it then it becomes an integral part of your life. A habit that you don’t do because you have to, but because you want too. Anything short of this is doomed to failure.
I have been quite lucky when it comes to my lifestyle. My father was quite a decent long-distance runner throughout my childhood, and we always had weights and fitness equipment in our garage and throughout the house. Even in his fifties he is still in the garage several times a week, staying fitter and healthier than the average 20-year-old. His example meant that I experienced fitness as being a vital part of everyday life from childhood all the way through to today. Because I grew up with fitness I have never needed to sacrifice any part of my life to include it. Fitness was always there for me, it was always in my schedule.
You need to make it a part of your schedule too. Don’t think it will happen overnight. Don’t expect to just cut three of your favourite hobbies and interests and then get a six-pack within weeks. You need to find ways to gradually change your lifestyle. Small things make a big difference initially. Try doing squats during commercial breaks on TV until eventually you would prefer to be exercising the entire time. Try eating an apple after dinner a few times a week instead of your regular bowl of ice cream. Try going to the gym with your partner or go for a walk once a week.
I am not writing all this to discourage anyone. I am writing this so that you can be prepared for the task you have ahead of you, and so that you can understand why you feel burnt out. I am also writing this to encourage people. If you have tried losing weight before, smashed it the first few weeks or months, but then fell apart and gave it away, please have another go. I hope that by reading this article you have discovered the true reason you were led to giving up, and I hope that you can make the changes necessary to lead a full and healthy life.
If you need any advice, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.