The first thing you must do before starting a new workout program or changing your current program is to ask yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish with my exercise program?”
“The answers we get in life are only as good as the questions asked.” – Bruce Pahl
“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” – Voltaire
Here are some additional key questions you need to answer before getting started:
- What are my reasons & motivation for working out?
- What are my specific goals?
- What are my limitations or what is holding me back?
- Will I train at home or at a gym?
- What is the best type of home equipment & workout?
- What can I do if I have limited space?
- How much time do I have & what time will I train?
- How should I eat?
- Will I train alone or with a friend?
- What is the best type of workout for me ?
- What is the cost?
Reasons & Motivation
Most people who don’t exercise regularly have not found the right reasons or personal motivating factors to do so. It’s natural to move away from pain or the things we lack confidence in. Whether that pain comes from the effort & discomfort from working out, not knowing what to do, or not wanting to be looked at or judged by others for being overweight or out of shape.
Stop Thinking Short Term
When you focus on short term thinking you’ll come up with all the reasons & excuses why you don’t want to exercise, won’t stick with it, or just don’t have the time. People who don’t plan ahead live reactively. They’re reacting to daily situations and impulses looking for instant gratification or a quick fix. Plan out your most important priorities everyday and make some sort of exercise or physical activity part of these priorities. I would tell my personal training clients to block out a meeting on their schedule with themselves for personal workout time just like they would if they had a meeting with a very important person (which they do…themselves!).
Don’t Have The Time
You can skip your exercise now and save a few hours a week for months or even years but eventually you’ll start feeling stressed, tired, weak, and start to gain an average of 10 lbs of fat a year! You’ll also lose your muscle tone, strength & increase your chances for osteoporosis (brittle bones), high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, increased chance of stroke, and a decrease in mental focus & memory.
People who workout regularly have more energy, drive & motivation to do other important things. They also don’t get sick as much, miss work, and don’t catch colds & flus like most unhealthy people. You can pay the price now on your terms or pay the doctor later. YOU CHOOSE!
Think BIG PICTURE
Start to think long term and get an image of the BIG PICTURE. Thinking & picturing long term thoughts of where you’ll be & how you’ll look & feel in 6 months, 1 year or even 5 years. Writing down all your must change reasons (not shoulds, but musts) and what you will enjoy & feel like once you have made these life style changes and have reached your goals. Think of it as investing your time now so that you can reap a harvest of good health & vitality later.
What you’ll get if you exercise three times a week:
- More energy, endurance & strength
- Less stress & anxiety
- Improved moods
- Better focus
- Increased productivity
- Look and feel better
- Less pain & health issues
- Increased sexual drive & performance
- Lower body fat & increased muscle tone
- Motivated to eat healthier
- More flexible & less joint stiffness
- More confident
- Better example for family & friends
- Make more money
- Save the planet (ok, that’s a stretch, but you might have more energy to volunteer for a good cause!)
What Are My Goals?
You need to be specific & realistic in what it is you want to accomplish & change. A previous principle was to look at the big picture and not focus on the short term. Well when it comes to setting goals & reaching them it is best to break down your big goals, like lose 40 lbs or gain more muscle, into a smaller more easier attainable goal. Such as: “I will lose 10 lbs of fat in one month by doing the following: workout 3-4 times a week doing strength training & cardio, cut out all junk food & sugar for the next 4 weeks until I hit my goal of 10 lbs then I will have a treat (not a binge).
Keep a daily food journal, increase your water intake to a minimum of four 8 oz glasses of purified water every day. Do some outside activities like hiking, playing ball, biking, or yard work each week.
By breaking each task down you’ll be more clear about what you’ll be doing each day. Don’t give yourself too many things to do or you will not be able to maintain them for the long term.
I’ve seen this so many times as a gym manager and a trainer. Most people go from one extreme to the other & go overboard & try to do too much. Like they workout 6 or 7 days a week for 2 hours or more, cut calories too low, or go on a fad diet (which is unsustainable for long term and leads to burnout, guiting and your metabolism slowing down.)
The most important things to do regularly is move your body so you can burn off those extra stored fat calories & eat nutritious foods while stopping processed/junk foods.
Things such as injuries, handicaps, too tired, too old, afraid of getting hurt, can’t afford it, concerned that strength training or weight lifting will make you to bulky or muscle bound, or you just don’t know where to start. Some of these reasons are valid and you might need to hire a trainer to help you design a program. The local YMCA has lots of classes and trainers who can help. But the real limitation that holds most people back is their negative attitude or the condition of excuse-itis.
Excuses are easy and making personal changes is hard. If looking & feeling good was easy then everyone would do it. It’s the opposite – most people are tired, stressed, lazy, overweight (50% of Americans are obese) and unhealthy. Don’t let your limited thinking hold you back from what you can do and accomplish!
The key is desire & passion! Have you ever wanted something so bad that’s all you could think about? When someone has enough reasons and motivation (leverage) to change, they’ll move mountains to reach their goal. This is where your ability to change lies…in your thoughts. Stop telling yourself that you hate exercise, or you can’t stand going to the gym, or you don’t like vegetables or worst of all…I can never change. The truth is that you can’t or won’t physically change or reach any worthwhile goal if you don’t FIRST change your stinking thinking & negative self talk.
Just remember BE, DO, HAVE. You can do it, but first you must be-come what you want. That means change how you’ve been thinking about yourself and stop making excuses or finding reasons why you can’t.
Start speaking out loud all the reasons why you can! Then take action and DO IT (thinking about it is not enough, get moving and fail forward fast!). Buy some equipment, join the gym, call a friend or buddy and tell them that you’re going to make some big changes and want to know if they will do it with you. If not then you just go and get started and after they see those positive changes in you they might just ask you for help or advice!
Lastly, you can HAVE what it is that you desire. If you want to become healthy, fit & feel fantastic then you have to WORK for it, that’s why it’s called “working out”.