Making Time For Exercise
Let’s face it: we’d all rather be at brunch with our friends talking and laughing for hours instead of dragging ourselves out of bed to get to a 6:15AM spin class. It is natural for us to avoid challenging, new, and painful situations (and brunch is not one of those, in case you needed clarification). Everyone knows exercise is good for them, yet it is often hard to develop a lasting, structured routine that results in consistent fitness that you can see and feel. Our hang-ups about fitness have more do to with our minds than our bodies, which is a major reason we fail to convert all our grand ideas of fitness into reality. As a result, “learned helplessness” roots deeply in our minds: we have failed in the past, and thus we think any new attempt will also result in failure…so why try.
As an athlete and amateur trainer, I have a strong passion to help people overcome their struggles with developing a fitness and exercise routine, and to watch them grow in confidence and healing in this area of their lives. As the new year unfolds, here are a few tips to help you tackle this elusive, nagging issue of exercise:
1. Don’t do it alone. Tell your girlfriends. Be vulnerable about why exercise is difficult, which will others will help you identify root issues. Is it intimidation? Learned helplessness? Fear? You’ll find you’re not alone, and your friends can help you walk through it. Bring your friend with you to the gym. Take a fitness class. Studies have shown that self-discipline goes only so far; we are more likely to be consistent when we do this together.
2. Be honest with yourself. An honest evaluation of your personality and fitness background is key. Your goals will not be identical to everyone else. What are your specific goals? What are you capable of doing? What negative habits do you develop when taking on challenging projects? Are emotional issues keeping you from the gym? Honesty will help you pinpoint past failures.
3. Develop a plan. Some people thrive on planning, and some don’t. Saying “I’m going to exercise in 2014” is a doomed statement. You need to be specific, and the best way is to develop SMART goals. If this sounds intimidating, work with someone familiar with various kinds of exercise or a fitness professional who can help address your needs.
4. Be intentional. We all could rationalize how we don’t have time for the gym. We could write pages and pages of SMART goals, but if we use “too busy” as an excuse, it’ll never happen. Cut out that extra brunch. Get up an hour earlier. Keep a strict, immovable exercise schedule (for example, Tuesday nights), and commit to it. The bottom line is, exercise and fitness aren’t attainable without time, commitment and pain. The end goal won’t happen unless you are willing to sustain a certain level of uncomfortableness.
Let’s own it: developing an exercise routine can seem daunting. Consistency, persistence, and tenacity have probably helped you overcome pain and challenges in other areas of your life. It is the same skill set. Implementing the above steps will change your mind about exercise…and your body will follow. Yes. You. Can.
Angie Van Berkel is a triathlete, volleyball player, and fitness enthusiast. She works in the field of disaster response management and is an active part of National Community Church in Washington, DC. She loves adventure travel and has a passion to see others receive healing from psychological trauma. She spends spends her free time grabbing coffee out with friends and dancing to 90’s music in her living room.