On Sunday, the Fit Facebook page contained a quote by Walt Disney, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” This morning, I was listening to a podcast that featured Jocko Willink, an ex-Navy Seal that addressed the importance of maintaining a regular fitness routine. He was talking about the emotional and physical benefits of exercise: how it helps you feel stronger, make better decisions, and pumps up your attitude. He spoke at length about the importance of eating good nutritional whole foods because they help your body battle all the negative things you encounter every day and they actually affect your motivation to exercise. He also talked about how crappy, processed foods that many people eat EVERY DAY drain you and can affect your energy, mood and motivation to exercise. All true and all great information!
Jocko spoke about integrating your workouts into your daily routine and how, after you have been consistent and have started feeling better, you WANT to workout – you gain a momentum that pushes you forward to maintain that workout routine. He also shared that, when injury (or other life event) prevents you from working out for a period, that momentum turns into inertia. When you develop the habit of NOT working out, it becomes harder to get back into a regular exercise routine. When this happens, discipline comes into play. Instead of relying on motivation, you will temporarily have to rely on discipline – on the understanding of the “why” it’s important to exercise and eat well. Discipline is also important to those who are new to exercise. Until exercise becomes a habit, until it becomes a part of your daily life, discipline to take that first step out of bed or to make the decision to stop at the gym after work will help you develop a routine. It doesn’t take long for that discipline to pay off – after a short time, you will begin to feel better – fitter, stronger, better able to do daily things like walk up stairs without becoming winded or carry the 40# bag of water softener salt into the house. When you start to feel better, that fitness routine is reinforced and you begin to develop momentum.
As I thought about Jocko’s message and the way it was presented, I totally identified with what he was saying. When you follow the routine that you have developed, you no longer have to make a decision. If your routine is to get up, get dressed and go directly to the gym, you no longer need to decide to go – you just automatically set your alarm, then get up knowing that your next move is to go into the gym (or go for a run or walk, whatever your preferred form of exercise is.) If evening workouts are better for you, you drive directly to the gym after work – it’s automatic, no decision needed. When you don’t have a routine, or regular schedule, every workout is a decision – what time will I workout today? What will I do? Who will I do it with? Just typing the questions is exhausting – no wonder it’s so hard to get out and get it done without a routine or regular schedule!
Another great tip – one that Jocko feels is one of the most important components – is to identify your best workout buddy – the person that helps you to be consistent and to move forward towards your goals. That workout buddy doesn’t necessarily need to be someone who is at your same fitness level, but someone that will respect your abilities and encourage you. At Fit, several friend groups and couples workout together and I definitely see that their commitment to their health and to each other helps them to be more consistent and to get more benefit from their workouts.
I love seeing people move from their first step/class/session to discipline in keeping their commitment to themselves to internal motivation. Everyday I have the privilege of watching people become stronger, feel better and experience the motivation that comes from moving forward in attaining their goals!