3 Practical Guidelines.
If you read the previous post, “How to Commit to Fitness, Part 1,” you already know several powerful ways to motivate yourself. This post describes three practical guidelines to help you realize those intentions. Together, these guidelines provide structure, a framework to support your efforts and encourage consistency.
Guideline #1: Do it everyday.
Exercise a little bit each day to make it a habit.
This one may sound daunting, but don’t panic. Even if all you do is stretch for two minutes while you nuke a burrito, it still counts. You might be thinking: “But two minutes won’t do anything!” Think again. Though it’s true those two minutes of stretching may only offer marginal physical benefits, daily exercise is daily exercise. Some days you do more, some you do less, but every day you do something. The point is to establish a beachhead in the battle against inactivity — to create a new habit (however modest) that will eventually lead to “full mobilization.”
At this point, I want to remind you about the importance of awareness, as I described it in the previous post. When you exercise, even if you’re only taking two minutes to stretch, pay attention to your body and all the changing sensations that accompany movement. Then, at the end of each session, ask yourself ‘why is exercise important to me?’ This helps rewire your brain to make health and fitness a priority. It might seem silly, but it works very, very well.
OK, say you’ve established a habit through daily exercise (of whatever kind). Now it’s time to extend your gains.
Guideline #2: Seven minutes.
Warm up for 7 minutes, and then decide about the day’s workout.
Have you noticed how getting started is usually the hardest part? That’s why we stripped Rule #1 to its essence (daily exercise of any kind), and it’s also the insight behind this seven minute minimum. Even when you’re busy, tired, or otherwise unmotivated, you can always spare seven minutes, so commit to just 420 seconds of activity every day. If you decide to call it a day after seven minutes, that’s fine. You’ll probably find, however, that seven minutes is just enough time to get the blood pumping, and for your muscles and joints to start moving freely. You’ll notice that as your body becomes ready for exercise, your mind does too. Most days, seven minutes is just the beginning.
Guideline #3: Fitness in action.
Find ways to integrate fitness into other aspects of your life.
For some people, fitness lives in the gym. For the inspired, though, fitness lives in the world. The qualities you develop through dedicated exercise can and should enrich your life in new and even unexpected ways. Looking better naked is nice, of course, but I’m also talking about things like playing with your kids, running with your dog, or helping a friend move. In a way, fitness is potential energy looking for action. So put it to work! You’ll find that fitness not only improves your life, but also allows you to have a stronger impact on others, and nothing is more motivating than making a difference.
I hope this and the previous post have provided you with some useful methods to fuel or reignite your fitness efforts. I’m also curious:
What practical guidelines have you found to work well in your life? Feel free to add your own tips and tricks in the comments below, so everyone can benefit from your experience.