“Hey Uncle John, what if we just got one hamburger and split it between the two of us?” “Well Joseph, let’s think about that. If we eat that hamburger, will it bring us closer to our goal or further away from our goal?” He thought about it for a second and replied “it will take us further away.” “Exactly, in order to be extraordinary, you must make an extra ordinary effort.”
My 17-year old nephew was trying to lose weight after a football injury had derailed him from his season causing him to gain over 18 pounds. He is an all-star kicker and has aspirations to be a professional football player. I was trying to drop weight to win a gold medal in cycling at the Master’s Pan American games in Cuba. We had different reasons, but we were both on a quest to lose weight. Lofty goals for us, but no less challenging for those who incorporate little or no exercise in their life.
Why don’t we exercise?
There are many excuses for not exercising. Let me rephrase that. There are many reasons why people do not exercise. No one to go with, lack of time, money, consistency, desire, energy or motivation are the most common. However, the human body thrives on movement. Without movement, the body starts to wither. Let me be clear about something. Movement is not the solution to good health. It’s only part of the solution. Your health is dependent on four main components: Exercise, Nutrition, Rest and Genetics. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something. This article is going to focus on only one component, movement.
What if you don’t like to exercise? Be honest, is it because you’re not that good at exercise; you don’t have the energy, or, you don’t like to exert yourself? Ask yourself these questions? Are you happy with the way you look and feel, or do you hate the way you look and feel? Be honest with yourself. No one else needs to know. What do you hate more, the way you look or feel, or exercise? Which of the two evils would you choose? Whatever decisions you’ve made so far has gotten you the body you have now. Do you wish to continue? Exercise has been proven to help with a host of ailments: obesity, sleep apnea, hypertension, high cholesterol, low self-esteem, confidence and self worth. Remember, your physical health affects your spiritual emotional and mental health. They are all tied in with one another.
Unless you’re gifted or talented, any new endeavor will be challenging. You have to stick with it for awhile and then you’ll get better at it. I hear many people complain they have no one to exercise with. Start exercising at a particular place and time; you’ll eventually meet people who are doing the same.
A New Mindset.
If you haven’t been moving at all, then the first step is to establish a new mindset. Once the mind is set, the body will follow.Your present is the window to your future. This is extremely important. Your health is cumulative; each decision of your day affects your cumulative health. However, a misguided present, without direction or a plan to accomplish a goal, can easily go array. I want you to write down this goal, I will start to include exercise or movement in my daily life. This is very important. Write it down. You must also announce it to the universe. State the previous sentence out loud. Once you’ve done this, we can proceed.
For every decision there is an opportunity cost. If you choose to watch television for an hour, you lose the opportunity to work, study or spend time with your family and of course, exercise. This is where your past decisions must change. This is another important step. Unless you change, nothing will change.
Be careful of your friends and family. If they truly care for you they will support you. If they don’t support you, seek others that are like-minded who will support you. Maybe your family and friends were supportive, but you weren’t listening. They may now even seem uninterested or just ignore the problem. At some point, you, and only you alone are accountable for your decisions.
Give hope; you will find support systems. Yesterday morning, I cycled at 5:30am in the dark and it was only 33 degrees. Not, ideal conditions to say the least. If I hadn’t met up with seven other lunatics on the ride, I might have gone home.
How to start.
There are many ways to integrate exercise, but you must always keep your goal present in mind. For example, after picking up your children from school and arriving home, most people go off to their rooms. Instead, hold a mandatory 10-minute activity session in your yard or living room. Better yet, play with your children. You don’t stop playing when you get old, you get old when you stop playing. Skate, cycle, play catch, jump rope, etc. Even dance for 10 minutes. If you attend your children’s’ sporting events don’t sit and watch. Walk around the field as you watch them. You’ll be active and as an added bonus you’ll get different viewpoints of the game. Elevators and escalators don’t exist. Take the stairs. If you can’t make the whole distance, stop a few floors before and walk the rest. Plan ahead and bring a change of shoes. Never, ever leave a shopping cart in the parking lot again. Make the effort to walk it back. If you work at a desk, make a pact with yourself to stand up and stretch every hour, 90 minutes or two hours. No more television. It will still be there, you’re just going to limit it for a while. Television will not help you get healthy. It is a mindset. Again, your present is the window into your future!
A Daily Plan.
The plan actually starts the night before. Rest is essential. You have to plan your next day by the time of night you go to sleep. If you wake up at 7am, then you can’t go to sleep any later than 11pm. You can list all the reasons or excuses you want, but your health doesn’t really care. If you ignore or put it off, you will pay the consequences, unless of course you’re a genetic freak. I would not want take that gamble.
Upon waking, go through your normal bathroom etiquette but add these few steps.
- Drink a full glass of water.
- Stand in front of a mirror and spend five minutes doing these few movements
- Reach for the sky and then chop wood – with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and the hips back, reach as high as you can with both hands towards the ceiling. Now, reverse this movement; descend as if you were chopping wood; bend your knees and sticking your butt out, bring both of your hands between your legs. Inhale deeply as you rise up and exhale deeply as you descend. Do this a few times.
- From the same position, tilt your body side to side, bringing the left hand over the right side and then the right hand over the left side. Do this a few times.
- Same position. Twist like a washing machine.
When you get in the shower, stretch a little more. Squat down to get the soap. It may sound silly, but do it three or four times. Our joint integrity depends almost solely on movement. Stretch your neck as well.
Now go about your day. Keep your mind focused on your goal. Walk at lunch whenever you can. When you get home, walk, do some activity or play with your children. Even 10 minutes will make a difference. Before you go to bed, repeat the same few steps you started your day with. It’s not going to be easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. Your health is worth the effort. You’ll probably stumble and even fail sometimes. Don’t be too hard on yourself. We all fail. I’ve done over 150 bike races in the last three years and maybe won only 20 or 30 times. In essence, I’ve failed over 80% of the time. Persevere; it’s how you deal with the failures and disappointments that make you exceptional. It’s really a test of will. Your will must be challenged and exercised just like the rest of your body.
Do you want to be ordinary or extraordinary? Remember, extra ordinary effort will bring extraordinary results!