Over many years I have worked hard to make exercise a consistent part of my routine, but I must confess to finding it a real challenge. Having grown up training in the martial arts, being physically active has always been a part of my life but I, like so many other people, struggle to maintain consistency in my training.
There is no doubt that when I am active I have more energy, positivity and determination than when I allow myself to slip into ‘couch potato’ mode. I’m less likely to be stressed and entirely unlikely to get sick. My diet tends to be healthier and I spend more time doing other activities like walking rather than driving, gardening rather than watching TV.
Despite appreciating the benefits there are times when I tell myself “I’m too busy to train today”, “I’m so tired, I really can’t face it”, “I’ve trained twice already this week, it doesn’t matter if I don’t go today”. Or the big discipline killer “there is always tomorrow”. Sometimes I win the argument with myself and sometimes I don’t. There are periods of time when I win it more often than others. To be clear, winning the argument means I actually turn up for training.
Recently I read a fabulous article by Natalia Jastrzab ‘When is the best time to exercise?’. Natalia shares her own experiences of becoming a runner. While a light hearted and entertaining article it also makes a powerful point – that is, the best time to exercise is when you are actually going to do it.
Reading Natalia’s article made me reflect on the most important things I have learned over the years about maintaining my exercise routine. From there I started to reflect on how the same things matter in doing anything in life that we know is important and yet struggle to do consistently. Here’s the list I came up with:
- Understand why something matters to me and keep reminding myself; not just why I should do something, but why I really want to
- Be prepared to sacrifice (including those comfy moments in my pajamas) for what I want
- Tune in to the conversations in my head and choose to give power to the voice that says, “I can” and “I will”. Ignore the voice that says “I can’t” or “I won’t”
- Enlist the support of others who encourage and hold me accountable to promises I make to myself
- Remember that things usually don’t last forever and a break is around the corner – that one really helps when I’m ¾ the way through a training session and really want to stop!
- Trust that I have the courage and resilience to do hard things
- Focus on the end result not the discomfort of the steps along the way
I’d love to hear your views – how do you keep doing the things that are hard and yet you know are important?