In my last blog I wrote about how I overcame some serious inertia due to the flu that had me out of commission for 10 days. The 7 step process I followed to bust out of my funk was designed months before I had to use it.
Here’s how you can prepare:
Establish a workout habit.
It takes 60 to 90 days to establish a habit. Once established, a habit is automatic. Your entire system responds automatically to the physical actions involved in your habit. Once initiated, you unconsciously gear up in preparation for the action to come. That could be anything from flossing your teeth to performing brain surgery.
However, establishing a habit requires conscientious effort. There is an enormous, built-in inertia that you must overcome to establish a habit. This will require discipline and consistency.
Set a goal. Think deeply about what you wish to achieve. Set some quiet time aside to do this. Get into yourself to feel the true desire of your heart. Put aside any thought of failure or impossibility. Take yourself completely out of the realm of “realism”. So many great things have been done that had previously been thought utterly impossible. So don’t let that hold you back. Just understand what you really want.
Visualize what you wish to achieve – it could be losing some weight, achieving some physical goal, or just being able to keep up with you kids, or grandkids. Visualize what that looks like and then, and this is crucial, visualize how you will achieve that.
Imagine doing your workouts. Imagine sticking to your diet. Just imagine how you will feel – what you will look like.
Imagine the pleasure you will derive from looking and feeling good. Really take some time to do it. Picture yourself slipping into a pair of jeans that would not have fit a few weeks or months ago.
Now imagine how bad you will feel if you don’t achieve your goal. Maybe there’s a serious health risk that needs to be mitigated. Maybe you’re sick and tired of being embarrassed about how you look. Every time you want to excuse yourself from doing a workout, or pushing away a dessert, associate some pain and some misery to that.
Practice patience. Getting permanently fit is not an overnight proposition. So give yourself some time. Postpone your gratification.
Break up your goal into smaller, achievable chunks. In the case of getting fit, this can be individual workouts, or meals. Make each workout a mini-goal, and…
Reward yourself. When you accomplish a task or a mini goal, feel free to reward yourself. Your reward can be taking a nap, watching some TV, reading a book or anything else that you find pleasurable. But remember to reward yourself IMMEDIATELY.
No one wants to do something that is unpleasant, as in the case of a strenuous workout. If you think about it too much, or if you think too far ahead, you won’t do it. Your mind will come up with all kinds of creative excuses to avoid the discomfort. So train yourself to focus on the very next, small step. And then the next, and then the next. Train yourself to put blinders on. Block out distractions. Learn to associate pleasure with accomplishing your task, and pain with not doing it. And focus on only the next, small step.
Being able to focus may be THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILL you can possibly develop in your whole life.
For example, instead of thinking about the workout to come, think about just putting on your workout clothes. Tell yourself this is the only step you need to take. Just put on your sweats, or your tights, or whatever you work out in. Put your socks on, and then your shoes, and tie them up. That’s it – no need to think further. Mini goals. Do it the same way every time. Don’t deviate. This will train your system and reinforce your habit. Done enough times, in the exact same way, this will become a powerful workout primer.
Establish your pre-workout routine
Many great athletes have a pre-performance routine. They execute the same moves in exactly the same way, every time they’re about to take action. A golfer may tug on his/her gloves a certain way, and address the ball from a certain angle. A baseball player may swing his bat a pre-determined number of times before stepping into the batter’s box. A bowler may caress his ball just so before delivering it.
The same goes for your workout. In my case it involves ingesting a pre-workout supplement, then donning my workout clothes, and then moving my body into my home gym. That’s it. I’m not thinking about anything except what I am doing at the moment.
For a long time my pre-workout “supplement” was just a glass of water. Then I discovered ribose was a great energy booster. But, I think some of it may just be a placebo effect. So, in the end, it probably doesn’t matter. What DOES matter is that you have a routine. A process for gearing yourself up.
When you’re very young, the gearing up process can last all of 2 seconds. But when you get older, it makes sense to ease into it. It makes your workouts more effective, and it’s something you can do your whole life, even into very old age.
And then I start my warmup. At this point, if I’m still feeling un-motivated, I just tell myself – LITERALLY – that I’m just doing the warmup. Just four or five minutes of really easy lubricating moves that will end soon.
So far, I have never not completed the workout after finishing my warmup. I’m taking decades. That’s how powerful the process is.
Supplements are OK
I have learned over time that it helps to give my body a boost to get things going. In the morning I take a cup of coffee with a teaspoon of maple syrup and another teaspoon of coconut oil. This is my morning “brain” food. I don’t know if it will work for you, but it definitely works for me.
I also take a stem cell booster that has L-carnosine, L-leucine, blueberry extract and green tea extract. You can read about it on line and you will find that conventional medicine believes this supplement is a waste of money. That same conventional medicine also acknowledges that the placebo effect is as powerful a medicine as there is. To me it makes no difference what underlying cause creates the effect, I just know it works for me.
So my advice is do your own research and pick something that works for you.
Reinforce your habit – Reward Yourself
DON’T QUIT!!! Commit to your habit for 1 week, every week, for 8 weeks. But don’t think about the eight weeks at first – just the one day, and then the one week, and then the next. Keep your head down and do it. And think about how great you feel every time you finish a workout. Relish in that thought. Reward yourself. I do it by having a glass of wine, or by taking a nap, or by doing both.
Figure out what your reward is. Maybe it’s having a treat, or watching a TV show. Just be sure to reward yourself. But DON’T OVERDO IT. If you have a whole cheese cake after you work out, well, your good feelings will just go out the window. The same goes with alcohol, or anything else for that matter. So keep it moderate. And, as you mature in your habit, adjust your rewards accordingly. At first maybe you reward yourself every day. But as you mature in your habit, you reward yourself less often – maybe after you complete a whole week. Or if you achieve a weight goal, or some other fitness objective.
So there you have it. Now go DO IT!!