After a long week of partying and drinking, guilt-ridden, like every year, Kevin had started off his new year with a resolution to get fitter and healthier.
The plan was to quit smoking, exercise every day and cut down on pizzas. He signed up for a gym membership, shopped for new workout clothes and got himself those pair of Nike trainers he saw were the rage on Instagram.
Everything seemed excellent in the beginning when he clocked 20 hours at the gym in January. However, laziness soon started taking over and, when I met him in May, he confessed he had gone back to his old ways. “I don’t see much progress and it’s so hard for me to drag myself to the gym,” he said.
A gym is not a place you need to drag yourself to
What makes gyms and other fitness centres an unwelcome or uncomfortable space for many? It is definitely not the lack of information. Thanks to social media, there is no dearth of free fitness advice available to you. Every second health magazine or fitness blog is flooded with articles with headlines that scream “six-pack abs in six weeks” or “10 ways to lose tummy fat in 10 days.”
Now, attaining those coveted 6 pack abs or being able to give a bikini model a run for her money is not the sole mark of being fit. Being fit is a lifestyle choice. It is not a quick fix project with unrealistic goals.
The goal of exercising and mindful eating is not always to lose fat. For someone with a weak knee, being fit could mean being able to climb a flight of stairs without pain; for someone who is stressed and fatigued, it could mean being energetic throughout the day and being able to have a good night & sleep and for someone else, it could merely mean being able to fit into an old pair of jeans. It’s about progress, not perfection. Miss this small point and you miss the very point of your fitness journey.
So, what is to be done?
1. Appreciate Progress
When you decide to start off a fitness regime, you need to understand that it is going to be a journey, and like all journeys, you are not going to magically appear at your destination overnight. All that matters is whether or not you are making progress every week. Progress doesn’t always translate to dropping kilos on the scale. If you are able to run a little faster, walk a little longer, push a little more weight in the gym, stop using that blood pressure medication or even if you find it easier to carry your grocery bags, it is progress. Experience the joy of these small signs of progress that tell you that you are on your way. After all, what good is a journey, if you aren’t feeling the wind on your smiling face?
2. Have a Clear Direction
With the plethora of information available online, it is not always easy to identify what may be good for you. The best and safest approach here is to seek professional guidance. Nothing like a good coach who knows his/her stuff to start you off and guide you in this journey. Training and nutrition guidance that suit your body and lifestyle will be different from those best suited for your friend. If your budget is limiting you to train one to one with a coach, join a group training program run by a good fitness coach and consult a nutritionist.
3. Find your Support System
When you have a solid support system, your goals are more attainable and your fitness journey becomes a lot more enjoyable, and hence easier. Surround yourself with positive people, people who care enough about you to hold you accountable in those weak moments you find yourself slipping. A lot of people complain about the lack of support system for their inability to maintain a healthy diet.
But in most of the cases, it is your attitude towards diet that comes in the way. Develop a healthy relationship with food, so that your loved ones who may insist you to choose a slice of pizza over a salad at a family dinner refrain from doing so, as they know you are enjoying what you are eating and there is a purpose behind your food choice. Make your goals known to people around you, communicate powerfully and seek support from loved ones. Lacking that support doesn’t mean you have to give up the goals, it just means you have to be even more determined to press forward.