My 7 Step Kick-Start Ritual to Overcome Inactivity Inertia – And How It Can Help You Too
I caught a nasty cold a couple of months ago which was unusual – I had not been ill in over 2 years. The cold went through its typical cycle. During this time I was seriously tempted to continue my workout regimen but thought better of it when I detected a fever. I was down for almost 10 days. On day eleven I finally felt well enough to resume my workouts. And while my brain said yes, my spirit was unenthusiastic. My heart wasn’t in it. Working out was about the last thing I wanted to do. This despite the fact I could literally feel my body decomposing slowly. In his book “Stronger Next Year” co-author Chris Crowly describes the process of breakdown that your body undergoes every minute of your life. The inexorable outgoing tide of deterioration that is a natural process of the body system. You have a built-in defense against this negative force, but it must be stimulated into action – it doesn’t happen automatically. And vigorous exercise is the only way to activate it.
I can tell you, I literally felt this happening to me. The weakening of vigor. The lack of motivation. The general malaise. So, as I faced the ceiling lying in bed early on morning eleven, it was almost impossible to imagine that I would get up, that I COULD get up and start a workout. So I did what I imagine any normal person would do – I DIDN’T! I just COULDN’T! So I stayed in bed for about 30 more minutes. I did this knowing with absolute certainty that I would overcome the inertia and I would resume my schedule. And I also knew with equal certainty that this bit of procrastination was part and parcel of the restart; a delay designed right into the solution, and to be used only when absolutely necessary, but essential to reactivate a habit that had been long cultivated.
Hitting the Wall
You see, I’ve run into this before, hitting a wall while attempting to achieve a goal. The goal in this case was simply to restart my workouts. I imagine you may have run into something like this as well – I think most of us have. You have an objective, and you run smack into a major obstacle. Well, there is a way to overcome these moments, but that way is prepared well before that moment comes.
The military and the Boy Scouts both operate on a creed of preparedness. Absolutely nothing compares to careful preparation, of your team, your organization, yourself. The reason is that when the need comes, when the confrontation begins, when the challenge presents itself, the best prepared team or individual will have the most positive outcome. The same goes for you and anything you do in life. But preparation takes time and, in the case of physical fitness, involves a few key components. Before I get into that, I will describe what I did to get back into my regimen.
The Kick Start
- After 30 minutes, I got out of bed knowing I was not going to go straight into a workout. I went to the kitchen instead and poured myself a glass of water and took a couple of gulps.
- Reaching into my cupboard I pulled out the bottle of Ribose and put a teaspoon into my now half-full glass of water. I added a teaspoon of maple syrup to the water
- I went back to bed, sat up, closed my eyes and went back into semi-sleep sitting straight up. Some people would call this meditation – my mind was very still, my awareness centered between my eyes. It felt wonderfully relaxing.
- Every 5-10 minutes I would take another gulp of the water/ribose/maple syrup solution.
- After 30 minutes, the glass empty, I got back up, made myself a cup of coffee and added a tablespoon of pure coconut oil and half a teaspoon of maple syrup.
- I drank it while I read a few pages of a book. This took about 20 minutes.
- Halfway through my coffee, I was feeling much more energized – a product of the water, the ribose, the maple syrup, the coffee and the coconut oil, so I got up and got my workout clothes.
Fight or Flight
If you’ve ever tended cattle, or spent any time with a horse, or if you know anything about habits, you will understand when I tell you that grabbing my workout clothes put my mind-body system into auto-pilot where every body system ginned up for a workout. This response was totally automatic and required no effort on my part. This is due to the fact that I perform my pre-workout routine in exactly the same way every time. It’s called a sympathetic response – an automatic process that puts your body into a “fight or flight” state during a dangerous situation, but that is constantly working in the background to maintain basic homeostasis. Cows and horses experience this and get excited when they approach their home after a long day in the field knowing they’re closing in on their source of food, water and rest.
By the time I laced up my shoes I could feel myself totally prepared and excited to get my workout in. And that is exactly what I did – I got a 40 minute weight workout in, with weights at 80% of the amounts I had recorded in my last workout 11 days before.
You are welcome to adopt all or part of my kick-start routine – which I use only when I have to invoke emergency measures to overcome some obstacle, like, in my case, a nasty cold. Or you can come up with your own. Before you do, however, I suggest you wait for my next blog where I will explain the principles behind these emergency measures, and why they work, and why you would be more likely to succeed if you understand them first.