If getting active and staying healthy were easy, everyone would do it...but we don't. We come home after a long day at work and we try to find the easiest way to release stress. And that’s by relaxing and switching off the brain with a movie or a book. We are mentally tired, therefore our body just wants to relax, and the sofa is the most welcoming place to spend the rest of the night.
To top that, sometimes we even open a bottle of wine for a full relaxation.
Now this is a habit that it’s not easy to change, but if your mind is ready for it, it’s achievable. Let's break down the mental walls keeping you from taking care of yourself.
First of all, if you're struggling with a sedentary lifestyle, you're not alone. Millions of us are just like you, and we all know we should get moving, but we stumble and fall back into old habits or never get the traction you need. This is completely normal, don't think anything otherwise. Very few people spring out of bed one day and say "I'm going to change my behaviour for the better for the rest of my life," do it, and never look back. In the real world things are different. Here are some things to remember:
1. Make the change step by step. Don’t try to change everything all at once.
First, do the obvious and easy changes. Use the stairs instead of the elevator where you can. Walk up the escalator instead of just standing. Wherever you see the opportunity to challenge a bit yourself physically in life, do it. Stand on the train instead of sitting. Walk to a destination if it’s close enough instead of taking public transport or your car.
Similar with the food. Be conscious of how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol gives you energy but has no nutritional value. It adds empty calories to your daily consumption. Moreover if you don’t drink, you naturally will eat less as well :)
Swap fries with boiled potatoes. I know fries taste much better but what you need to focus on is to understand what your body needs as opposed to what your body wants.
2. Understand how habits work.
Recent research led by a team at the University College London think they have uncovered just how long (on average) it takes for something to become habitual. They do not think it takes 21 days to form a habit. They believe it takes an average of 66 days to create a habit.
Richard Talens, co-founder of Fitocracy, your pick for best fitness tracking site, explains it like this: "Most people fail in fitness because they never enter a self-sustaining positive feedback loop. In fact, most people don't even start. In order to be successful at fitness, it needs to be in the same category of the brain as sleeping, eating, and sex." He explained that if exercise worked the way it does in the movies—where a montage plays and after every workout you look better and see results instantly, more people would stick to it. The key is to find a routine replacement that works for you, and that gets results for the energy you put into building it into your habits.
3. You’re not lazy, you're just starting from zero.
One discouraging thing you've probably thought (or heard) before is that you're just lazy and will give up eventually, so why bother. Richard dismissed this idea: "To say that people don't exercise because they are lazy is actually backwards. Often times, people are actually lazy because they're out of shape and don't exercise!" He points out that it's easy for someone in-shape to tell someone who's having a tough time that they're just lazy, but the truth is running a mile for a couch potato is far more difficult and requires more physical and mental will than it does for someone who does five every day. Recognise that, especially when you start down the slippery slope of comparing yourself—and your habits—to others.
4. Find exercises that motivate you.
There are so many bloggers and social media gurus nowadays that finding fitness content and videos of exercises is not hard. If you prefer starting something at home that’s perfectly fine however if you have a gym where you actually need to ‘get to’ could give me a bigger motivation and add a routine to your life. Hiring a personal trainer is not a bad idea to start with. This way you can get more knowledge and education on how your body works, help you outline your goals and adapt the appropriate training routine. A good PT will help you stay motivated in the most critical phase of the change: the beginning and will make you look forward to coming back to the gym over and over again.
5. Join Communities that Build Positive Habits.
Meeting likeminded people always helps in creating a new lifestyle. Join communities, attend classes, team up with gym buddies. The more you engage with people who have similar goals to you, the more doors will open for you to get involved more in the new lifestyle and ditch the old habits.
Remember to follow your progress. Take before and after pictures, use a tape measure and read my Training and Nutrition section to use it as a basic guide.
For more information or Personal Training feel free to contact me.