It can sometimes feel as if getting fit and losing weight is all very hard and about restricting yourself. Trying to add in more time for training or for planning and preparing meals can feel really difficult. It has been exciting to see a number of clients switching their training and absolutely smashing it over the last couple of months. So what can you learn from this and how can you access these results?
Maintaining the status quo
Our bodies like homeostasis. Put very simply this is about ‘status quo’ for our body. It is about keeping everything stable and operating as usual. That is why our body constantly adapts to the load that we put it under. From a training point of view a new workout will only challenge you for around 6 weeks after which your body adapts and it will feel easier. So running the same route at the same speed will cease to result in change for you very quickly. That is where the frustration comes in and where motivation can fall.
Changing the stimulus and load
So what is the answer? It is all about continually changing the stimulus and load. In the gym it could be increasing weights, doing more reps, changing the order of exercises or adding in intervals. It could be trying a different class or adding in another session. What we have focused on over the last month is trying a different activity which for September has been swimming. To complete the challenge you had to commit to swimming a specific distance over the month. It was up to you when and where you did your swimming. All you had to do was to complete the swim by the end of September. Once successful you would get a stylish purple swim hat.
Finding the time and motivation
As with any challenge people approached it in different ways and with different goals. It always amazes me how a specific goal can result in extra time being found for training that you would struggle to find beforehand. There were swims early in the morning, after dropping the kids at school, lunchtimes and in the evenings. You have to plan your swims armed with the pool timetable or it won’t happen. Some of you went from not having swum for years to swimming 3 times a week. Doing something different can really help to get you out of a rut and charge your enthusiasm. I love the fact that many plan to keep going with the swimming and to either improve distance, stroke or speed. That shows me that these kind of challenges really do work and make lasting changes for some. Not everyone completed their distance with reasons from time, work pressures and health issues. So why did some complete the challenge and others didn’t?
Being self aware
Clearly there are genuine reasons in a time specific challenge that will limit your chances of completing the distance. You can’t swim with a chest infection and if you can’t get to the pool as planned it won’t happen. I know that I could ask any of you to put together a training plan and most of you would do a pretty good job. The tricky part is always making yourself do it. This leads nicely into looking at how we are motivated as individuals. This falls broadly into 2 camps.
This would be where you train because of the way that it makes you feel or because it satisfies a need within you.
This is where you do the training because you will get something from someone else whether that is a swim hat, praise or other reward.
We can all be motivated in different ways for different actions. It could be that at work you are intrinsically motivated but when it comes to exercise you need the accountability and extra push of a challenge in order to get you going. Perhaps you are intrinsically motivated to do the exercise you schedule each week but you need an extrinsic element to do more or to try something different. We are all individuals and being self aware is really important in driving our success.
How does this help you?
It is all very well setting goals and signing up for challenges but you need to think carefully about how you are motivated. I certainly swam more this last month because of the challenge but I would have done the same by setting myself the goal. I am very intrinsically motivated and driven to complete the training. I firmly believe that by focusing on our fitness we can supercharge all areas of our lives.
That is what I really love about exercise. It makes you feel great and that has a transformative effect on every aspect of your life. When you move your body you start a chain of events that make you feel stronger, more optimistic, more capable, more energetic. You feel good and start to take better care of yourself. Your diet improves, your mood lifts and your outlook changes. You focus your time and energy on what is important to you and move away from the negatives. If you have goals and need to spend time in the pool or in planning your meals for the week you stop wasting time on tasks that don’t matter or support your priorities. Self awareness is a real gift and can drive truly dramatic results.
I started today with the well peddled excuse that getting fitter and healthier can be hard. I really do challenge that in view of all the positives that you will gain. Getting started and taking those first few steps can feel daunting but you will never look back and wish you hadn’t started. What I would like you to do now is to think really carefully about your own motivation. Think about what helps you to achieve your goals and what the stumbling blocks are. Do you need support, direction or a reward? Can you go it alone or do you need a buddy or a coach? Is it about planning and scheduling or actually doing the workouts? Once you start to answer these questions and drill it down you will see what you need in order to be successful. You can then find the most effective way to hit your goals for you.
I would love to hear your thoughts and what works for you. My passion is to get you all to move more and to move well. If you are looking for more help in getting started or in upping your game then you will find lots of practical help and inspiration in my first book ‘Moving More – Your path to a stronger, healthier, happier you’. You can follow the link below to order your copy.
If you are looking for a structured plan, lots of support, help and motivation whatever your current fitness level then take a look at my ‘Group Get Moving Plan’ here. The next plan starts in January and you can register for your place now. It will fill quickly so you will need to be quick!