Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to start exercising. You’ve chosen the program you’re going to use. You have your workout gear and a spiffy new pair of sneakers. Now what? What happens after you start to exercise?
Commitment to your health
It’s been a few days. The initial exhilaration of the newness of your exercise routine has worn off. You’re starting to realize that exercise may not get easier as time goes on.
You’re right! And that’s the point. Exercise will not get easier. In order for you to get all the benefits of exercise (improved cognition, increase bone density, increase strength), you have to challenge yourself every day. Of course, the point is not to challenge yourself until you’re ready to drop, but at the end of a workout you should feel like you really can’t do any more without some recovery time. Your final cooldown and stretch should be absolute bliss. After a cardio workout you should be warm and sweating. And after a strength workout you should feel like you couldn’t do another push-up if your life depended on it – at least for a half hour or so.
You know that old saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going?” The same applies to exercise. Exercise is tough – you’re tougher. You’re exercising to reap those health benefits I mentioned above. And know that you’re not alone. Exercise is hard every day for me. It should be hard every day for everyone.
Make it a habit
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about habits. It takes about 3 weeks for anything to become a habit. If you do the same thing at pretty much the same time every day (or almost every day) for 3 weeks, the better the chances that it will become a habit. The same for exercise. I work out in the late afternoon 4 or 5 times a week. I get home, walk the dogs, check on the bearded dragon, get the mail, change my clothes and exercise. That’s my routine. We humans love routine. Exercise is a part of mine. A few weeks after you start to exercise, it will be part of your routine too. But before exercise becomes a routine, you must put thought and deliberation into it.
I’ve emphasized the use of a calendar or planner in the past. If you’re serious about making that commitment to your health, make appointments with yourself to exercise. (Here is Zapier’s ranking of the best calendar apps for 2021.) Four days a week for the next three weeks – just write it in or make a repeating event on your digital calendar. And keep that date with yourself. You’ll find that in a few weeks, you’ll start your workout routine as a matter of course. Remember that you’re doing this not only for you, but for those who depend on you. Like an oxygen mask on an airplane – when they drop, put yours on first so that you can take care of others.