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Photo by: miamism
Photo by: miamism

Most people want to get fitter. Most people intend to get fit. Most people have started some exercise regimen in the past. Most people have done this more than once. And most people quit.

So why is it, exactly, that we’re all so determined to get fit, it seems, but so few of us are willing or able to see it through?

Well, the reasons are likely manifold, but the solution is pretty simple.

Firstly, when we say “everyone” we don’t really mean it. There are plenty of people out there quietly content with who they are, the shape they are – and the lives they lead – so a big kudos to them.

On the other hand, there are many people – perhaps even a majority – who meet the stereotypical person we’ve outlined above – who desires to get fit and in better shape, and who has also tried (sometimes on several occasions) to do so and failed.

Your attitude to work

The single main reason we fail lies in our attitude to what we term “work”. You see, to most people work is a real four letter word. It has distinctly negative connotations for many people in the same way that perhaps school and education did before they started work. It’s a chore; another word that has distinctly negative connotations.

Again, please note, this does not apply to everyone by any means. There are millions of Americans out there who can’t wait to get up and get started in the world each day – and again, credit to them all. But there are more people for whom the daily grind is a real grind.

So let’s just imagine for a moment that you could choose any career you wanted. What type of role would you then fulfil? Try this out for yourself and remember – there are no limits; just think of any type of occupation you can that would mean you couldn’t wait to head off to work every day of your life. It’s a useful exercise and, who knows, it may just help you’re-direct what you’re doing for a living.

There are people out there who achieve this. And there are other people out there who don’t really “love” their work – but manage to have a positive attitude to it nonetheless; approaching every work-related task with their best efforts and putting their hearts and souls into it. This is highly desirable if you can possibly achieve it.

Exercise isn’t the same as a chore

So what’s all this got to do with developing an exercise regimen and getting in shape you might well ask?

Well, if you’re the sort of person who gets that Sunday night downbeat feeling at the prospect of going back to work the next day (and most of us do exactly that) then it’s highly probable that you approach exercise as a chore too. And let’s face it – if you’re overweight and/or unfit, exercise can be a chore. You have to work hard and get sweating to shed the pounds and hone your physique – there’s no way around this.

However – what we shouldn’t be doing is approaching the task as if it’s a chore. If this is what you’ve done in the past then it’s no wonder you haven’t managed to stick at it; you were effectively defeated before you began unless you’re some sort of masochist.

That’s because you could drop it so you did. You don’t have the same choices when it comes to earning a living and paying the bills – so most people simply persevere with their heads down year after year. But you were never going to do the same with your gym membership, running club or whatever else you decided at New Year’s or on that vacation you took when you decided that when you got back – things were really going to change! You kept it up for a couple of weeks, but then missed a couple and it kind of petered out right?

That’s because your heart wasn’t in it. You didn’t really have to do it, you weren’t loving it enough, and you quit. That’s perfectly understandable and you certainly shouldn’t be down on yourself for it – but you were anyway right?

The truth is that exercise has to be fun and enjoyable for you to be able to keep it up. It is not “work”. So find a sport you love. Watching sport on TV and maybe even gambling on the sport you like can be a good way in here, as you will become accustomed to the rules and the players. Just find out what you like.

Leisure means leisure

This is your leisure time and you should approach it as such. It is a treat. It is something you can’t wait to get back to each time you stop. It isn’t something where you’re watching the clock, gritting your teeth to grind out a couple more reps or to bench press a couple more pounds. Instead, it’s something you absolutely love doing – something to which the exercise benefit is completely coincidental. This is the key to success.

No-one can really tell you what this is. There’s only one proviso here – it has to be quite energetic for a reasonably long period, of say 30 minutes or more, a couple of times a week. The rest is up to you – just make sure it’s something you love doing and the pounds will drop off as if by magic. What’s more – you’ll be able to keep it up this time.

Whether it’s running, swimming, tennis, squash, football, hockey, the gym, dance classes, aqua aerobics, walking long distances, hiking, climbing, cycling, basketball or anything else you find you like doing – just do it.

Try to find the child in yourself again that loved playing – and go and play. This is your leisure time after all.

It isn’t work – or if it is, you need to be able to find a way of loving that work. This potential is in all of us. Good luck…

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