Every year, swaths of the population try in vain to stick to an exercise program. More often than not, these efforts cease after just a few weeks or months. People earnestly desire to improve their health and fit in the exercise they know they need, but working out and eating well is hard. These goals fly in the face of our environment. Feeling the squeeze of escalating responsibilities and distractions, people eventually make the unconscious choice to sacrifice their health. One day turns into a week, which snowballs into a debilitating belief that fitness is just impossible in this busy world.
Most people attempting fitness improvements are relatively inexperienced exercisers or have had a significant hiatus from consistent exercise. Still, the overwhelming impulse is toward brutal, exhausting workouts. They see the images portrayed on TV, and look at the fitness enthusiasts who haven’t missed a day in years, and assume that is what they have to do to meet their goals.
Rather than approaching this as a lifestyle change which can only be accomplished over time with intentional habit formation, they attempt to overhaul the patterns they established over a lifetime. Then they become overwhelmed when this painful work doesn’t bear fruit in the first few weeks.
The Concepts and Constraints That Keep Us Unhealthy
The media and the fitness industry has fed the public a model that doesn’t work for most people. To create lasting change, a few essential concepts must be properly understood:
- Goals don’t drive success. They provide a vision, but motivation waxes and wanes. Achievement comes from lots of tiny, consistent actions. It comes from habits. While the concept is about as sexy Jim Gaffigan eating Cheetos in his underwear, it remains the truth.
- Willpower is like a muscle, which means it can be grown. However, it is also like a muscle in that it grows gradually. It’s far more effective to start small, gain momentum, and then increase intensity, time, or difficulty than to bite off too much early on.
- Everything has a cost. Most people think they will just add in the time to work out at the end of the day. Never mind that the day has drained a lot of their willpower. More importantly, they don’t factor in what they may have to give up: time with family, space to accomplish necessary household tasks, or maybe just rare freedom from responsibility. Every decision is a tradeoff.
- The 21st century has too many distractions and pulls on your attention to not have a systematic process of prioritization and attention management. If we don’t clarify priorities, establish boundaries, and take deliberate steps to set habits and shape our environment, then we are doomed to fail. This is the focus of my work with clients in my Inspired Lifestyle consultations.
These understandings led me to create an adaptable workout program that works for even the busiest people. Most people seeking to begin exercise should start with a plan like this. It can be scaled to any level and should become a staple of most people’s lives, whether they grow a passion for fitness or not.
Sneak In Your Daily Workout
Here’s how it works. You will pick five times each day to take a three-minute movement break. For example, you could choose 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, and 5 pm. Set daily alarms on your phone for these times. Each time the alarm chimes, you will do…