Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fitness for lazy and frugal. Part 2. General rules to follow.

30 August 2009

Hi there!
It's me Svetlana.

In my privious post I was planning to tell you how to change your self-perception to a one of a habitual exerciser. How do you stop thinking of yourself as a couch potato and start thinking about yourself as a habitual exerciser? Definitely not by sitting on the couch and repeating out loud, "I am an athlete".

Rule of thumb #3: think of yourself as a regular exerciser, and you will become one. You are what you think of yourself. This principle is universal, it applies to every single aspect of life. In fact, this is probably the best self-improvement tool a human being posesses. I am planning to elaborate on the role of power of mind in weight loss and meintenence in my later posts. When it comes to habitual exercise, you literally become what you think of yourself.

If one person comes to me and tells me I am an idiot, I will laugh and ignore it. If a thousand people come to me and repeatedly say I am an idiot, I may start thinking I may be an idiot. This is a point of no return: once I start thinking I may be an idiot, I will start looking for supporting evidence. Was what I just did stupid? Did I just say a dumb thing? Eventually I may become persuaded that people are right, and I AM an idiot. Then I may start behaving like one, and eventually may become one.

Why am I saying all this? Because the importance of this step, a self-perception step, can not be overemphasized. Let me explain. If you are still reading this chapter, you are probably thinking of yourself as a couch potato, or a yo-yo occasional exerciser, and as long as you think this way about yourself, you will BE just that. To become a habitual exerciser for life (and as the by-product result achieve a permanent weight loss), you should start thinking of yourself as a habitual exerciser. I can hear you say, “Wait a minute, how can I do that if I am not one of them”? The answer is to become one of them…but to do it effortlessly and painlessly, so the habit “sticks”. This is how you do it.

The first step is to agree that you will never ever again start exercising for quick rewards. The second step is to agree that you must give your body some kind of exercise for life. This is unconditional. The third step is to decide what kind of exercise you love or at least like, that makes you feel good. In case you don’t like any exercise at all, you nevertheless should pick something that seems relatively easy for you to start and keep doing regularly. Walking is a good example. The exercise of choice has to be convenient/practical, cheap, and easy to commit to in a long run. For instance, you may love snorkeling, but this is neither convenient, nor cheap (unless you live in a tropical paradise), so it should not become a basic exercise activity for you (but rather a great occasional supplement). Snorkeling is not practical. For the same reasons you should not chose unusual and expensive activities like rock climbing or horse back riding to become your “basic” exercise, unless you really have perfect setup for them. The bottom line: pick something that will be easy to do day to day, month to month, year to year without interruptions. If you are not sure what that is, try out different exercises to see which one you really like. Then imagine yourself twenty years down the road: will you still be able to do it? If the answer is yes, go for it!

The next step after you picked you “baseline” exercise is to agree that you will set for yourself an absolute basic minimum that you will be able to maintain no matter what. Set perfectly realistic goals for your absolute minimum baseline. Don’t plan to run for 45 minutes six days a week if you never ran before. You will be sore and short of breath, and will hate it – a perfect setup for failure. Don’t be shy to tell yourself that because you never really exercised on the regular basis, you body is completely out of shape. Don’t feel bad if can walk only for 5-10 minutes before feeling tired and short of breath. Girl, we have to start somewhere. Let’s say you are both out of shape and short on free time. In this case give your body 5-10 minutes of walking three times a week. Sure you can find 5 minutes three times a week to give your body a little gift of exercise. Put it on your schedule; make an appointment with yourself for 5-10 minutes of walking three times a week, just like you make an appointment with your dentist. Keep doing this no matter what until you feel it became your second nature.

Rule of thumb #4: never stop exercising because you think you look ridiculous. Nobody cares. Don't be shy if you look awkward or even funny at first. Eventually nobody would care how you look while exercising, so you should never care how you look to others, or what the others will think. I sucked so much at tennis at the beginning that my ex-husband had to pretend he did not know me. In fact, if you want to learn how to do something well, prepare to suck at it with style. For me and tennis it “only” took a year. With time you will suck less and less, and less. You should always remember this. In fact, all great athletes in the world were not born that way, and started climbing on top by sucking at whatever they did. If great athletes at some point were great suckers, so you should agree to become one for a while, until you notice some changes.

I was talking to my boyfriend George yesterday how the fear to look stupid or ridiculous in other people's eyes can prevent people from exercising or from doing some forms of exercise which they would enjoy otherwise. I said, "George, but this is wrong!" I imagined if I was a total stranger who saw him, a 52 year old guy trying to learn ice skating. Well, I would probably giggle for a couple of minutes looking at him, and then went on with whatever I was doing, thinking "Good for him for trying this!". Believe me, nobody ultimately cares, more over, if people see a genuine effort, they would rather admire you for trying hard.

Now you noticed that you started craving your little walk, anticipating it with pleasure. Gradually you noticed that you are not short of breath and tired anymore at the end of it. Congratulations! You just achieved the most important step in transforming your body into the healthy one: you became a habitual exerciser. This is a great mental trick: by committing permanently to even 5-10 minutes of walking three times a week you started thinking of yourself as a regular, habitual exerciser. In fact, you became one. So, by starting low and going slow, you gained a new status. 

In my next post I will talk about how to make sure your new status of a habitual exerciser sticks with you for life, in other words, once you became one, you never ever be a couch potato again.

See you later.


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