THIS WON’T BE EASY… But it will be worth it
So it’s day one of your first work out. You made the decision to get onto the healthy bandwagon. You have the tools you need, even a brand new pair of sneakers. You step onto the treadmill/ put on your home work out DVD… you go ALL OUT BABY! The work out is done, and you feel like a MILLION DOLLARS! Nothing can touch you… YOU ARE GOD!
Fast-forward to three weeks later.
You wake up guilt ridden knowing you haven’t worked out in three days. You are tired. You are frustrated and you don’t even know why you bother working out anyway. You hit the snooze button and fall asleep thinking about that sugary bun you plan on having for breakfast later. Your sneakers gather dust under your bed and miss the attention you once gave them. You are sad.
Ladies and gentlemen, this tale is not new to any of us. We have all been there. Have you ever asked yourself why/how you got to that place of discontent? Allow me to give you my little slice of logic on this conundrum. Ahem…
The first week of a work out regiment is what I like to call the Golden Age. Expectations are high, motivation is at 110% and your energy levels are (mentally) soaring. You are dedicated to the cause and you are willing to make the sacrifices to achieve your goal. Unfortunately, this is the period of mind-numbing delusions. Most of us start off with the hardest and most difficult exercises/ routines we can find. “The harder the workout the faster the effects, right?”. You find yourself constantly staring at your reflection on the mirror and start envisioning the new you that you expect to appear instantaneously.
The second week is known as the Silver Age. If you managed to survive your first week of lunacy, this second week will be your make it or break it period. At this time, you find it harder to get into your workout gear, there are so many other more pleasant things you figure you could be doing with your precious time… but you grudgingly get your butt up and into your training arena. Everything hurts. You barely make it through the entire workout. Towards the end of the week, you find yourself stopping halfway or not starting it at all. Your reflection shows no development or advancement. You curse out aloud.
The third and most critical period is what I call the Bronze Age. At this point, you try to convince yourself that the two insane weeks that you put into your workout deserve a reward, and what better reward is there than sleep! You are sick of the dull ache in your muscles and even angry at yourself for starting this stupid quest… Procrastination is a devilish imp that whispers in your ear; you succumb to it with a guilt ridden heart, but you succumb nonetheless. Deep down, you know that your exercise days are long gone.
This Cycle is repeated throughout the year with each new burst of inspiration to get fit. It happens to a lot of us and is the main reason we can never reach our goals. So why does this happen? And how do we fight it?
Well first and foremost, I found that the only way to avoid this sick carousel is to simply, be realistic … and to get rid of that f*%$ing weighing machine. Start off by taking a fitness test; this can be done professionally or at home. A detailed assessment of your fitness level will aid you in picking the right gym routine or home work out DVD that will work for you. For instance, don’t take on P90X or the Insanity workout if you have never trained consistently. Don’t join a professional spin class if you’ve never even tried it before. In as much as hard work guarantees results, it is important to build you way up to it.
Secondly, get rid of that gaddamn weighing machine and measuring tape! You only need them for your initial check up and for your next scheduled weigh in; possibly one month or two months depending on what program you are following. These satanic devices will only serve to demoralize and dismay your efforts.
So how do you set goals if you are not measuring your progress you ask… ALLOW ME TO ANSWER THAT!!! Know right now that this process will be more mental than physical. Change your definition of a goal! When I say ‘goal’ don't think of a measurement or weight… Instead, think of a challenge. Give yourself realistic physical challenges and most importantly monitor your progress. At all times, keep your mind engaged and focused on overcoming the next level of difficulty (be it a day, week or month away). I find that if I start a work out knowing that it will get harder along the way, I am motivated to keep at it until I am strong enough to take on the impending challenge.
Let’s say you wake up and decide to go for a 30 min walk one day, you should be aware that the same time next week, you’ll be aiming for a 45 minute walk. If you walk for 5km one day, work your way up to 10km and so on and so forth. You are working knowing that each day you are building up to a specific mark that you have given yourself. This is how I tackle my runs; at present, I can comfortably handle a 10km run in 60minutes (that’s awful by my standards). By the end of the month I want to finish my 10km in less than 50 minutes. But it will take much more than a hope and a prayer… :(
The same principle applies for any and all work outs. If you are doing a home work out DVD, start slow and monitor your progress; make sure you don’t find yourself gasping for air, if you do; you are probably overdoing it or possibly using a DVD that wasn’t meant for you. Work out progressively until you find that you are able to finish an ENTIRE workout comfortably and with ease. Getting to this point will take time and consistency. Once you find yourself getting bored (and what a wonderful day that will be) start looking for the next level up… (for example work from P90 and graduate to P90X).
If you work out at a gym, pacing yourself is that much more important. Remember ladies, use light weights and work to increase your repetitions. Resistance training combined with cardio training is quite possibly the best thing you could ever do for your body. Resistance training burns calories faster and is more targeted than cardio training. It also offers the best method of monitoring strength development. Always work out with a written program, be fully aware of your repetitions, jot them down on a journal and work steadily to out-do yourself.
Find a work out that you LOVE. Try them all out! I know I have. Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, P90X, HIIT, running, walking, dancing, kick boxing… there’s loads to choose from! Mix them up and get into a routine that works for you and your lifestyle. If you don’t find a work out that you love, tough. Man up, Just Do It and stop your bitching.
In short; work to achieve a goal that is dictated by your fitness regimen. Do not use the weight or inches lost as your source motivation. Instead, challenge yourself; keep your mind activated and conscious during each and every work out. Know that with each bead of sweat and each burst of energy, you are getting stronger and fitter. I promise you, at the end of your first cycle (2-3 months), you will SEE and most importantly FEEL the difference.
NB: I implore you to consult with your physician before embarking on any fitness program. And remember, we are not experts in this field; all we aim to do is relay our experience and offer you our support and encouragement.