According to some statistics, only 8% of people succeed at keeping their New Year’s resolutions. 66% give up before January is even over! So it’s clear that New Year’s resolutions don’t work – I’m sure this comes as no surprise to you!
The problem is the way we make our resolutions. We feel we’re not good enough we must improve (there’s a whole industry built on our need for ‘self-improvement‘ in other words us not being good enough the way we are. but that’s a rant for another day…), I must do this in order to be a better person because I’m not good enough as I am and only when I’ve achieved this, can I be happy.
So we set a goal, such as run 5k, and think that that goal alone should motivate us to get up and go running 3x a week for couple of months. It’s like we must be punished for being lazy slobs or just generally not good enough. No pain no gain and keep your eye on the prize, we say. This is awful torture. It might be the way we are used to doing things in our society but it doesn’t work and this is why we always fail and why most people feel they’re not good enough.
The key to success in anything is enjoying what you do.
Exercise because you love your body, because you love to move and love how it feels, not because you hate your body and need to be punish it.
Life is short and it is here and now, don’t waste it doing things you don’t enjoy.
Often you have to do things that don’t seem so enjoyable, like exercise, so then you have to challenge yourself to learn to enjoy it. With the right approach, you can learn to enjoy most things in life.
YOU GOAL THIS YEAR: Learn to enjoy exercise (bonus: get fit and healthy in the process)
If this seems impossible, then make it your mission for 2017 to test this – can I find a way to enjoy exercise? Is it really possible?
HOW TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL:
- Be in your body. When you move, breathe deeply and focus on your body. Get out of your head. How does your body feel? Most likely, it feels great to move. Notice how alive your body is, it’s strong and it’s able. Forget what it looks like. Try to stop your head from piping in with criticism and purely focus on how your body feels. Focusing on your body also helps you notice any niggles before they turn into injuries.
- Focus on the positive. Every time you’re out, in your head list 5 to 10 good things you notice around you. To really live in the moment and enjoy it, you need to be present to what’s around you. Again, get out of your head. Feel your body, look around you. See the beauty around you. See the sky, the trees, the flowers, birds, people…. Choose to focus on the good stuff around you and ignore everything else.
- Realise that your body (and mind) benefits from every single step you take. You do not have to wait until you can run 5k or until you’ve lost weight for your health to benefit from exercise (and eating healthy). Every time you go out and move, your body benefits. You can be healthy and fit while you’re still overweight as long as you move and eat well -just like you can be unhealthy and unfit when you’re at a healthy weight if you eat junk! We must stop focusing on weight as the only measure of health and fitness because it’s misleading. Enjoy this feeling every time you go out. Enjoy looking after yourself, treating your body with the respect it deserves. Be proud of yourself.
- Focus on the instant (or almost instant) benefits of exercise. Such as stress relief, mentally you’ll feel uplifted, you feel good about yourself, your immune system strengthens very fast after taking up exercising outdoors (as long s you don’t over train!), you feel more alive, you sleep SO much better, you have more energy, that nice tired feeling you get after exercise that tells you you’ve done something…. Make your own list. All you have to do is really tune in to your body, notice how it feels and notice how you feel mentally. Once you’ve started exercising, notice how these feelings change. Before you go out to exercise, notice how you feel and then after your session, pay attention how you feel now. Write these observations down. This is what is going to keep you going far more than reaching a goal such as a 5k or 10k or what the scales say.
- Make it easy. I mean REALLY easy, too easy, even, to start with. This is the absolute key if you’re a beginner. This can be hard to get in our results obsessed world but just remember that it’s not about the results, it’s about enjoying it here and now. There will come a time when you enjoy pushing yourself hard but don’t even think of going there until you’ve realised that moving your body can be fun and easy. Keep it to a level where you’re able to keep up a conversation easily and stop while you’re still finding it easy.
- Do something outdoors – walk, run, cycle, circuit training. Some people do enjoy the gym too but it is far easier to enjoy it outdoors, especially if you’re a beginner. Researchers have found that exercising outdoors is far better for mental health than indoors. Green spaces and fresh air do wonders for your mind and body and I love seeing what’s going on around me – I get bored in gyms and the atmosphere is far too serious. Yoga is the only exercise I enjoy doing indoors.