“First you just want to look good, Then you realize, its deeper than that.” -unknown
Before you step on foot on a treadmill or pick up a weight let’s look at three key factors in getting fit: Motivation, humility, and goals.
In a country leading a more sedentary lifestyle every day, often the most important aspect of what makes us “man”, is our body, and it's often overlooked in its care. In the transition from youth to adulthood it’s sometimes easy to let the upkeep of our bodies fall by the wayside. Whether it be school, work, or starting a family, we spend more time neglecting our bodies than maintaining them. Obesity and inactivity are slowly killing the across the country and world. While we may only notice it as an extra breath or two climbing the stairs, the effects of a lack of physical fitness are many. Increased risk of heart disease, decreased sexual stamina, diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea are just some of results of being overweight and out of shape.
Ask yourself, why are you doing this? Is it for yourself? Your spouse? Your children? Maybe it’s for a friend who’s overweight and needs a little bit of boost to start working out? Whether it’s a single factor or many, the motivation to get in shape will be the core principle that drives every workout.
When you first start, when you’re six months into a fitness plan, there are going to be times when you don’t want to work out. You just won’t. These are going to be times when you’re going to need to refocus on why is it you’re working out. There are plenty of doomsday scenarios to motivate you to workout, but I won’t touch on those. Instead let’s touch of a few happier, more applicable motivations.
Maybe you’re tired of standing on the porch watching your kids play football in the yard and you want to join them. It could be as simple as wanting to be able to take your shirt off at the beach without embarrassment. You don’t need to have six pack abs, but do you want to feel confident about your appearance. Maybe it's the mental aspect, you just need to release that energy.
When you find out why you want to get back in shape, find some way you can remind yourself of this reason. I was never a big believer in doing things like writing on your bathroom mirror or wearing a bracelet with some inspirational message on it. You need to be reminded of your motivation, not smothered by it. I have a photo of myself right before competition a few years ago. That was the best shape I’ve been in in my life. Every so often I’d take a quick glance at the photo to remind myself I was capable of a high level of fitness. How you choose to remind yourself is up to you, but make sure you do it.
You are NOT 17 anymore! Got it? Whenever people ask me how to get back in the gym I tell them going to the gym the first time isn’t the hardest part, it’s the second time where many fall short. Too many times people fail in their quest for fitness because they pretend like they’re still 17 and go full speed on the first workout. If you don’t pull a hammy during the workout you wake up the next morning feeling like you went three rounds with Kimbo Slice. Your knees, back, and neck all hurt and you can barely stand. So when you think about the next workout, the words ‘Hell’ and ‘No’ usually follow shortly thereafter.
I’ll get into a plan in subsequent columns but here’s how I started out last spring with my workouts: 30 minutes on the treadmill, walking at 2.4 miles per hour with varying degrees of incline. It is impossible to look cool when you’re slogging away on a treadmill dripping with sweat doing a workout like that. But starting slow will provide a stronger foundation for fitness gains. Getting past the EGO aspect of ‘looking cool’ when you’re working out requires a certain level of humility. Isn’t that something all people need more of anyway?
Setting and reaching goals is a big part of getting back in shape. Having a benchmark to reach as a measure of success provides positive reinforcement that your efforts are worth your exertions. The easiest goal to set is the bathroom scale. Goals can be small or large. You might just want to run a mile without stopping, drop 10 pounds, or complete a 5K race.
The best thing about your goals is you can easily set new ones when you accomplish the others. My first goal was very simple, Lift my weight in Deadlifts. I figured if I could do that then everything else – losing weight, quitting smoking, getting in shape – would take of itself. That’s exactly what happened.
Don’t set too high a goal though, you want to be able to reach it in a reasonable amount of time. You might want to run a marathon someday but starting with a 2 mile fun run may be the better goal. The key to remember is that no matter how out of shape you may think you are, getting back in shape is possible. It took you years to get to this point but you can get back on the road to health in a matter of weeks. You’ll be a better person for it too.
So, don’t give up trying, It takes just one day at a time. Leave your ego at the door. You aren’t doing this for anybody else and it won’t take one day, but you will get there if you just walk through that door and do your best. When all else fails, hire a professional to help you or guide you with your goals. And lastly, remember you are worth it. Nothing in the life is more important than your well-being. NOTHING.