I’ve had the pleasure of being a personal trainer for over 14 years now. I’ve seen all walks of life during that time. Despite everyone’s differences, when I ask people what their goals are the vast majority will answer the same things, to “lose weight” or “tone up” or “lose fat.” Not surprising considering 70% of the American population is overweight with nearly 30% of them being obese. The who, what, when, where, why, and how is a complicated, multi-faceted issue that we’ll save for discussion another day. On a superficial level I understand. We all want to look good. But honestly, more than anything we want to feel good and we think by achieving the ideal body it will do just that…make us feel good. Unfortunately, most won’t allow themselves to feel good in the present moment until the body fat goal is reached. This is a double edged sword and where a lot of people can get stuck seeing little or no change. In order to see the change you have to become the change and this requires you to align yourself energetically and emotionally with the feelings you are after. If you are constantly in a state of dissatisfaction with how you look and not achieving your goals in light speed that’s exactly where you end up staying. Essentially the process becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, the good news is that we can utilize the same principle by embracing the process and emerging ourselves in the journey towards our goals. How you may ask?
The first thing that you can do is change your approach to the process. Rather than having all of your happiness ride on how much the scale says, begin to focus on the benefits and feelings that exercise produce.
More energy – Despite what you may think, energy begets energy. By working out consistently your physiology changes to the point where your body is able to deliver more oxygen to the body, this increases it’s efficiency to produce and utilize more energy, which of course allows you to handle the demands of the day to day grind with ease.
Mentally clarity – Life can feel like an absolute shit storm sometimes, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and paralyzing you to the point of being unable to think straight. Working out eradicates this feeling almost immediately every time. The fog lifts so to speak, answers to questions you have suddenly come to you, and your problems seem to shrink exponentially by the time you’re done.
Empowerment – Nothing can help you gain confidence more when you begin to realize your true strength and potential in the gym. Having the strength to do a pull-up, bench press your weight, running a personal best in the mile, or simply being in the best shape of your life is HUGE for your self esteem. And it carries over to every other area of your life as well.
Getting high – No I’m not talking about drug use! I’m talking about the natural high from the feel good hormones that are released during exercise…specifically endorphins. These babies are what give you the euphoric feeling from a workout. J. Kip Matthews, Ph.D, a sport and exercise psychologist explains, “Endorphins, which are structurally similar to the drug morphine, are considered natural painkillers because they activate opioid receptors in the brain that help minimize discomfort.” So getting in and getting your “natural” high on will certainly have you feeling good more often.
Increased libido – No explanation necessary! 🙂
The second step is to develop solid “fitness goals” that empower and fulfill you. If you have personally read even a fraction of my writing you’ll know that I’m big on finding a fitness event to train for. It produces greater purpose to our workouts and puts us on the track for long-term success. It could be anything from running your first marathon, doing a Spartan, or participating in a triathlon. As long as it’s an activity you find enjoyable and is within the realm of physical fitness, you are on the right track.
Always remember this…the scale can have you jumping for joy one day and crying the next, but the exhilaration of crossing the finish line after months of preparation and training is something that will stay with you forever. And more often than not, the pounds will come off as a result of your training. So in addition to creating good memories and getting into fabulous shape, you become lean and mean in the process.
Here are three tips to getting started on your fitness quest:
1. YOU ARE ALWAYS READY: Does this sound like you? “I need to get into better shape before I can do that.” Quite the contrary! At any given fitness event, there will be a range of participants with various fitness levels. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to participate. So set the goal. You will get ready in the training process.
2. CHOOSE AN EVENT: This may seem obvious, but too often this simple step continually gets put off. Until you make the commitment and actually sign up, it’s only an idea. After you register, you will have an official training deadline. You will be less likely to skip workouts because you’ll want to do your best for the big event.
3. RECRUIT YOUR FRIENDS: Why do it alone when you can have buddies be a part of the process? There is added accountability and a tendency to strive for better results when you have the positive support of your friends. Plus, people create a special bond when they sweat together, and you will just have more fun!
And last, find other activities and hobbies that get the good vibes going. These can be fitness or non-fitness related. As long as they aren’t counterproductive and/or destructive to the path you are on. Physical activities could include hiking, yoga, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, sports. Some non-fitness related ones, meditation, hanging out with friends/family that help lift you, playing a music instrument, reading things that inspire you, etc.
All in all, the objective is keeping yourself in alignment with feeling good…NOW! This is the best way to ensure that you achieve your goals without being at the mercy of the outcome and realizing that the journey itself is the ultimate reward.