Often times when I talk to people about sports I hear stuff along the lines of “I like running, I just never get round to it” or “I want to get fit, but it is so hard”. Well, no, you do not like running. And you do not like getting fit. What you want is being fit and just having finished a workout. What you want is the feeling of accomplishment, but not the pain and struggle before that. So let’s talk about the difference between wanting to train and wanting to be in shape; let’s talk about priorities, habits and reaching your so called “goals”.
Know what you want
A friend of mine often fluctuates between short sport/fitness-crazes and lazy periods. What I realized is that, no matter what period he currently is in, he talks about the good feeling of being fit and in shape. He does not talk about the burning feeling of your aching muscles after a long run, about the sweat in your eyes during a heavy workout. Because he does not like those things. He likes being fit, he likes being in shape and he resents the effort it takes him to get there.
Another one of my friends is the complete opposite, he needs the sport. In times when he is sick and has to pause or even minimize his weekly dose of training, he gets mad and complains about how he misses his workouts. The one friend likes to be fit with the side-effect of having to train while the other one likes to train with the side-effect of getting fit. You have to ask yourself: Which type of person are you and do you really like to train that much?
It does no good to deceive yourself by assuming the wrong things. Let’s take the scenario that you actually like being fit, but you tell yourself that you love sports and getting fit. The result: You will constantly train less than you would have to in order to stay fit. It will feel wrong, it will not satisfy you and you will constantly find good excuses not to train (which is easy to do). In general: As long as you do not really like something, you will always find excuses. Finding excuses is the number one thing to do when it comes to avoiding stuff you don’t like.
The solution: Call it by its name: A chore.
The first step to get to your fitness-goal after realizing that you actually don’t like to train that much is honestly stating that truth for you: I do not like to train, I want to be fit and the training is an annoying necessity to get there. Good, now we can start working on your fitness instead of your training! As soon as you honestly admitted that you do like the “I just ran 10km”-moment and not the hour before that moment you can treat your training as a necessary chore that needs to be done. You can work on schedules and habits and especially the latter is very important. You do not need habits for stuff that you like, because you’ll do it anyways. But the more you loathe something, the more you have to implement it in your daily or weekly routine.
Do 20 push-ups every day after you get up for example. Start small, start simple, but make it constant. Doing 30 instead of 20 Push-Ups daily after a month of doing 20 is no problem at all. But doing 30 right now for the first time might seem difficult. Expanding existing habits is way more easy than starting routines or even starting one-time exercises. The first few days of a new habit your head might fight the workout. Especially during the first minutes of it you will constantly get good excuses in your head. But this period of “head fights against long-term goals” will get smaller and smaller and after a while you just get started without the pesky distractions.
When it comes to forming habits it often helps to make the actual workout as pleasant as possible. Take jogging for example: You certainly do not like those long runs, the monotony, the sweating, the pain. But you have to do it and you want to add it to your habits so you beautify it a little bit. You could listen to podcasts, audiobooks or some good music for example. You could also distract yourself from the monotony of the exercise by running in a beautiful environment that keeps your head busy or partnering up with like-minded friends.
Another helpful trick for the start of new habits is rewarding yourself. As soon as you admit to yourself that you simply do not like working out, you can treat is as a task that you can reward yourself for. Trained today? Check, reward yourself with half an hour of watching your favorite TV-series! Trained for a week straight without zero-days? Hell, treat yourself for a nice meal, a new Videogame/Movie, just anything that seems like a reward to you personally. The only reward that is not beneficial: Treating yourself a zero-day. Do not do that. The key behind forming routines is the exact opposite: Having no zero-days! It is way better to train at least a little bit than to skip a day. Make that your top priority: When it comes to forming habits you have to keep it up! Do not, I repeat, do not skip training days!
In a nutshell – Get your priorities straight
To sum this article up: You have to know what you want, you have to understand your goals. Do you like being fit or do you like the training? Do you like being wealthy or do you like working a lot? Do you like learning a language or do you want to be able to speak it? Don’t kid yourself, be honest! You need to know what you really want and what you have to do in order to get there.
Once you have established your goals, you can start working out routines and habits that get you there. Tips to actually do that: Start small, but start now. Focus on consistency more than on quick results. A weak day is better than a skipped day. Reward yourself from time to time. Never reward yourself with skipping your routine.
- Know what you want. Be honest with yourself and figure out your goals
- Determine what it takes to achieve your goals
- Start forming habits in order to get there. When it comes to habits:
- Start slow, start now, focus on continuity rather than short term impact
- Beautify your exercises, partner up with others
- No zero-days!
- Reward yourself from time to time
- Have the trust that your inner resistance will get weaker every day
Of course, this does not solely apply to training and getting in shape, but I like the example. In general whenever you realize that you talk about “liking” something but can’t find yourself doing it often you should ask yourself: Do you like the action itself or just being able to say “Hey I did it, that is exactly my thing”. Be straightforward and sincere, especially with yourself. Sort out your priorities and get to work. Godspeed!