FITNESS: Chris Sharp
I’VE BEEN in the health and fitness industry for over 25 years now and the thing I see most that stops my clients achieving their goals is self-doubt and not believing they can actually be the best version of themselves.
Life’s pressures such as relationships, work and illnesses will halt them and, on many occasions, they give up.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself; if you get off the fitness wagon, you just have to get back on.”
It’s always important to look at the big picture; one of my favourite sayings is “health is not just for now, it’s for life”.
Dealing with Setbacks: How to Stay Motivated When Feeling Flat
It is estimated that 60–70 per cent of the Australian population does not engage in regular physical activity.
The most common reasons as to why people fail to stick to a regular exercise regimen include lack of time, inability to get to a gym, lack of motivation, fear of injury, and misconceptions about exercise.
Barriers such as these have caused a majority of us to sacrifice regular physical activity, an element that is as vital to our health and well-being as food, water, and shelter.
By taking a closer look at the barriers that keep us glued to our couches, I hope to help anyone out there who is struggling to overcome them.
Here are some common excuses and ways to combat them on days you’re feeling flat: “I don’t have the energy to exercise.”
It can be a struggle to get moving at times.
But I can guarantee that once your body becomes accustomed to regular workouts, not only will your energy levels soar, but sitting still will become the struggle! I still remember being new to exercising on my own, not playing a team sport and sometimes dreading what lay ahead, but before I knew it, I began craving the workouts because I loved the way I felt afterwards.
“I don’t have enough time to exercise.”
This is the one I hear most of all and I often use this equation to quantify my response.
There are 168 hours in a week.
If you exercised at least three hours, that’s only 5.6 per cent of your time consumed by exercise.
It’s really not much is it?
One of the leading reasons many of us fail to stick to a regular exercise routine is the belief that we never have extra time.
With the busy lifestyles most of us lead, it can seem almost impossible to fit in a workout every day.
However, studies have shown that if we can commit 30 minutes a day to some form of physical activity, our health, well-being and productivity can improve dramatically.
I don’t believe there is anyone out there who is unable to dedicate just a half hour a day to their fitness, even if that means splitting 30 minutes into two sets of 15 minutes or three sets of 10.
Whether it be taking the stairs instead of the lift to the office, taking a walk during your lunch break, kicking the footy or throwing a ball or Frisbee around with the kids after work (I’m sure they would appreciate it!) or hiring a mobile trainer to train you at the destination/time of your choice, there are plenty of ways to keep active throughout the day.
When we exercise, endorphins (AKA ‘happy hormones’) are produced by and released into the body, causing an overall sense of happiness, relaxation and well-being.
So, if low energy levels are preventing you from staying active, focus on how fantastic you will feel if instead you were wide awake from working out!
“Exercise is boring…”
This is one I also hear a fair bit!
This is only the case if you choose boring activities!
You wouldn’t wear the same clothes all week, or eat the same food every day, so if physical activity is as vital to our well-being as these things, why choose the same boring exercise?
Choose something you enjoy, whether it is dancing, a sport, or having a personal trainer provide you with a program that caters to your likes and dislikes.
Ensure that you mix up your exercise routine, so you are not taking part in the same activity every day (e.g., Monday night dance class, Wednesday night personal training session, Friday afternoon beach jog/walk).
Do whatever it is you enjoy doing.
This way your mind stays motivated and your body stays challenged.
“Exercise is too painful”, or “I’m afraid I’ll injure myself”
The old saying “no pain, no gain” is one that should be disregarded completely! Exercise DOES NOT and SHOULD NOT need to be painful to be beneficial and effective.
Yes, it may be true that if you are training towards an elite level of fitness (such as an athlete or bodybuilder preparing for competition), you will need to endure an elevated level of intensive training.
However, for those of us who wish to exercise for the sake of general health and happiness, a moderate level of activity will suffice.
Still, it is important that as fitness increases, the intensity of our workouts increase as well to ensure that our bodies continue to respond to the activity by getting stronger and more capable.
You can do this on your own by increasing duration of activity, or number or sets per exercise.
Alternatively, a good personal trainer will be able to provide a program suited to your goals and adjust it according to increases in your fitness levels.
At NO stage throughout a workout should any pain be experienced, and if it is, the activity should be ceased immediately.
But there’s a difference between the pain of injury and the burn you feel when challenging your body.
A great instructor once told a class I was participating in, “This is not pain. This is just necessary discomfort!”, and I think a life of looking and feeling fantastic is worth enduring a bit of “necessary discomfort.”
The barriers mentioned above are only a few of the ones that can prevent us from engaging in regular physical activity, and I have only offered several of the many ways you can overcome them.
The main idea is to work on changing your perspective to get the motivation you need.
Next time you are tempted to put off your workout regimen until tomorrow or next week, remember all the benefits of exercise awaiting you, pull on those trainers, and get yourself on the track towards achieving the optimal health, fitness and well-being you deserve!