When it comes to fitness, getting started is always the hardest part. Physically getting up and going to the gym. Making it a part of your routine. Taking that first daunting step on what seems to be a treacherous journey.
It’s not just you. It’s human nature. We like the status quo. We like safety, and we fear change. There is no bigger change than trying to get fit. You have to change your schedule, change your eating habits, your social life. Just about everything you know and currently do on a day to day basis, will be effected in some way if you are really committed to making real, long lasting change to your life and your body.
This may seem overwhelming. Trust me, I’ve been there. This fear of overwhelming change is quite often unfortunately, the reason that people fail to even start in the first place. They see getting up earlier, and going grocery shopping, and meal prepping, and working out endlessly, and being sore, and everything else, and it just seems like so much. Like TOO much. It’s easier just to sweep it all under the rug, and either give up before they’ve even started, or give the age old “next week!” for the umpteenth week in a row.
I get this way of thinking. When you add everything together, it seems like an almost insurmountable task. No one wants to start a task that they can’t possibly finish. Why set yourself up for failure? Better to just not rock the boat, keep things the same. It’s safer that way, right?
Wrong. So, so, so wrong. I’ve fell into this trap of negative thinking in the past. It held me back for years when I wanted to lose weight, but kept putting it off, and putting it off. I believe we all have done the same at some point in time. If this is you, or you’ve been that person before, don’t worry. It’s never too late to make a change. It all starts with one small step.
It's never too late to make a change. It all starts with one small step.
You see, the place that I messed up was getting so overwhelmed by the details, I never started. The thing is though, once you start, everything becomes so much easier. One step in the right direction begets another one. One small win, leads to many big wins. Just getting started allows the other dominos to all start to fall in place.
Once you start, however you start, you realize it isn’t as hard as you once thought. Or, at least it’s not as IMPOSSIBLE as you once thought. It very well may be hard, but once you start, you may come to realize that just because something is hard, doesn’t mean you need to be afraid of it.
Starting makes things easier not only mentally, but physically. When you first start an exercise routine, everything is hard. It hurts, the weights are heavy, you feel destroyed after every workout. Then a funny thing happens, and as you continue, you start to get stronger. Workouts that used to leave you beaten to a pulp, now just are mildly tough. You still get sore, but it only lasts a day or two instead of the whole week.
These physical benefits then loop around to being psychological benefits. You feel better, and you see improvement, so you want to do more. It is like an ouroboros (an ancient symbol of a snake eating itself) except in a positive, self-help way. One good decision helps you feel better and stronger, you feel better and stronger, so you can make another good decision. So on, and so forth.
They key here though, is for you to set off this chain reaction of events to unleash a positive tsunami of effects on your life, you actually have to start. You need to get out of the mindset of “it’s too hard,” or “i’ll start later,” and JUST. FUCKING. START.
Rather than getting bogged down in all of the details, lets bring it back to third grade. K.I.S.S.- keep it simple stupid! (Side note, I don’t think calling little kids stupid is a great way of teaching problem solving skills, but oh well).
Start with a few small goals, or even one small goal. Just one thing, that you feel confident that you will be able to accomplish with 100% certainty. Maybe it’s going to the gym two times this week. Maybe it’s limiting your fast food to only one dinner a week. No goal is too small. The point is to set a goal, so you can start winning. Once you win, you set another goal, and keep the wins rolling in.
Here are my 3 go-to pieces of advice that I give to all of my coaching clients to help them get started. They will allow you to overcome “paralysis by analysis” and get to business. Try implementing one, or all, of these tips the next time you set out to achieve a goal.
1) Set yourself up for success- eliminate excuses
Now this isn’t me saying “stop making excuses!”. Instead, I am asking you to take a deep look at whatever it is your goal is, and identify whatever problems you can foresee popping up that might delay or knock you off track.
Think about the last time you tried to accomplish this goal if you’ve tried in the past. What happened, why didn’t it work out? Or if you haven’t tried, use your imagination. What is gonna hold you back? Then, you are going to preemptively solve those problems, before they every have a chance to pop up.
For instance, say your goal is to go to the gym after work. In the past, you’ve tried but sometimes meetings ran late, and then when you did make it out on time, you forgot your gym stuff, and by the time you ran home to get it you never quite made it back out.
Knowing that these problems could pop up again, lets solve them before they have a chance. Set an alarm in your phone in the morning, after you wake up, but before you to work that says “take gym bag,” or leave an extra set of gym clothes in your trunk just in case. Set a time block in your calendar for the gym, and treat it just like any other event that you can’t miss or be late to. Maybe leave a 45 minute time buffer in there, just incase you get held up at work again.
If you want to eat healthy, but you never have food in the house, set aside a day to grocery shop. Sign up for a meal delivery service that drops healthy food options at your door every week.
Whatever it is, the point is to stop being reactive, and start being proactive. Don’t wait for problems to pop up and then try to solve them on the fly. Instead, go out of your way to make sure you are ready to handle whatever obstacles come your way.
2) Have a plan
The surest way to fail at any goal in life, is to just think that you are going to “figure it out.” While it may be possible for some, it unfortunately doesn’t work like that for most. In no realm is this more true than in fitness.
Having a plan of attack when it comes to working out has multiple benefits. First off, and most obviously, it allows you to actually know what you are doing. It’s no exaggeration to say that I see on a daily basis, people come into my gym, just to walk around aimlessly from machine to machine, maybe get a few half decent reps in, and leave forty-five minutes later. No plan = no chance.
The second, and often overlooked benefit of having a plan, is that it saves you time. If you know every set, rep, and rest period you have, you are much less likely to waste time in the gym. Considering that the main excuse people give for not being able to workout is lack of time, this can be a huge game changer.
3) Learn to accept mediocrity
“What? Huh? Aren’t you supposed to be teaching us to be great? Why would we want be be mediocre?”
I’m not saying to strive for mediocrity, I’m saying to accept it. Things are going to be tough at first. They are going to be hard, and you aren’t going to be perfect. Your workouts will be longer than you thought, the movements will feel clunky. This is not failure. It is part of the process.
Fitness as a whole is one giant learning process. You are training your mind, and your body, to be better, and stronger. It is literally impossible to be perfect at it from the beginning (or ever at all for that matter). So don’t be so hard on yourself. Realize, that messing up, slipping, sliding, and falling back, are all part of it. Everyone goes through it. The point is to keep going, that’s how you get better.
That’s it. Take this advice, and use it. You have to start. Don’t wait, just go. Jump in, and start the process. You will mess up, it will take time, but that is no reason not to do it. Learn, read, ask questions. Hire a coach (this is always my #1 advice for anyone serious about getting results). Have someone help and guide you, or do it yourself. Just stop waiting, stop making excuses. You will thank yourself when you do, I promise.
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