Do you need to kick-start your fitness mojo? Start right here!
I’m a bit full of myself today. I feel as if I’ve got second sight. I can see your predicament and I can see into the future.
So here’s your predicament, correct me if I’m wrong. I see you have a problem with exercise. You don’t want to do any exercise. You know you should - but the thought of it makes you so very tired. You certainly don’t like the idea of doing it regularly. You don’t know what you’re going to do. You don’t know when you’re going to do it. And worse - you don’t know where you’re going to find something to do that you will actually like (or not dislike) enough to do it often enough that it will actually have an impact. In short, you need to kick-start your fitness mojo.
Am I close?
Well, dear reader (and I’m not being flippant, because you really are dear to me), let’s break open the first aid kit and see if we can get you going.
Now, this is just the short term solution. Once your mojo is showing signs of life, the road to a healthier you is paved with regular - and more physical - therapy. But hopefully you’ll be ready to take that on one day soon.
Dodgy metaphors aside, wherever you are, whoever you are there are some things you can do at any time to ease your own path to better fitness. They may sound simple and straightforward - so much so that you might be asking me under your breath whether I really mean to patronise you like this - but that doesn’t mean it’s not good to point this stuff out once in a while. It shouldn’t hurt to hear it from time to time, either. Tough love and all that.
So here are 5 things you can start doing right now that will help you kick-start your fitness mojo. They don’t cost anything. You can start now. They don’t need any special equipment. You don’t need to buy a new outfit, match shoes and accessories or even change your clothes. You won’t have to have a shower straight afterwards.
Just bring your brain cells and a bit of time to think. Oh, and maybe a nice new notebook (Hi, my name is Kate, and I’m a stationery addict).
Try to make a conscious effort not to look at yourself in relation to others. Just because someone else is very good at something, doesn’t mean that you can’t do it.
This takes quite a bit of practice. It won’t happen overnight, but if you keep bringing yourself back to your own present when you find your buttons being pushed by others, eventually you will start to see some progress.
When you see photos, videos and posts of other people’s fitness exploits, remember you’re seeing only what they want you to see.
Just as with every other area of life, it’s other people’s edited highlight reels that you’re seeing. Also in many cases highly photoshopped edited highlights.
And don’t get me started on pouting-in-the-mirror-sucking-the-stomach-in-and-the-bum-out selfies.
Next time you catch yourself thinking “I’ll never be that fit, so there’s no point trying”, see if you can catch your thought patterns and change them just a little. For one thing, those models probably aren’t that fit either, they’re pretending to be. And what if they are actually that fit? One way or another it’ll have taken them time and effort to get there.
This is your journey, your life, not theirs.
Oh, and if someone makes a comment about your exercise journey, it says more about them than about you. Full stop.
Work out how to turn your exercise time into “me” time
Whether “me time” means time alone or a chinwag with the girls, it’s time to start working on how you can look forward to it. Get 2 for the price of 1. Or BOGOF if you like.
Depending on your circumstances this might take a bit of planning. But there’s nothing more likely to get you moving than the thought that exercise time is time for yourself.
Let yourself be entertained
Is there anything you’d like to be able to listen to in peace? Music? Talking books? Podcasts? Anything you’re particularly looking forward to which you can’t fit in?
Dig out your old earphones and give them a test drive!
Have a session to organise any downloads on your phone to make them easy to get at when you go out. With any luck, this session will give your fitness mojo a bit of a boost.
Learn a new skill
How about that Spanish course your Auntie Brenda to you for Christmas? Something you need for work? Now’s the time!
Try to visualise for yourself how you might combine learning verbs with lunges, or catching up on the latest industry news while power walking.
About that chinwag with the girls
The trick here is to avoid rewarding yourselves by eating and drinking afterwards. How about a group trip to a nail bar instead? OK, OK, so I’ve never set foot in a nail bar myself and I realise that might sound very cheesy - but maybe something cheesy is exactly what you need.... Binge-watching the Sex and the City back catalogue? How about my personal favourite, a light-hearted natter about the underlying causes of the fall of the Roman Empire. Anyone with me? Hello? Ladies?.....
Explore your motivation
The word motivation is bandied about way too often. I have actually tried my best to avoid using it, but sometimes you’ve just got to look something in the eye and stare it down.
So what can you do to break it down for yourself? Try to get still and think about what might just get you over the threshold between not doing and doing some exercise.
There’s an awful lot of advice out there about how to motivate yourself to get exercise. The truth is, we are all so different when it comes to motivation and finding your own takes some effort
Let’s start to break it down. Firstly, do you prefer being out and about on your own or with others?
Would you rather exercise on your own and learn to treat exercise as me time or could the idea of being with others and having a good natter be the thing?
This isn’t about whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert. My sister and I, who are similar in age, run about the same amount at roughly the same speed. She’s an extrovert, I’m an introvert. But we both run on our own, to give ourselves time to think. My sister values her running “me time” as much as I do.
If you’d rather exercise with buddies and can’t easily find any near you, why not do some research into virtual exercise groups and social sharing apps like MapMyRun, MapMyWalk.
Do some research on when you can get regular exercise.
Try this exercise on for size: List 3 ways you might be able to plan exercise into your life circumstances in the morning, 3 in the afternoon and 3 in the evening. Try to consider exercise you might like for its own sake, but then think about how much time and effort you need to put in to get ready, whether you need to travel to get there, whether you can combine it with your commute or with waiting for your son’s football practice to finish - or whether it’s something your partner and/or children do or might do too.
Now you have 9 options on paper, so you’re starting from a place of abundance. You have the luxury of narrowing that list down. Which of these 9 options appeal to you the most? Which other 2 make up the top 3? And perhaps most importantly, why?
Take some time to plan through these top 3 options now, and you have something to actually try out when you have the chance.
Get to know your body and mind a little bit better
Slow things right down and get mindful about your physical self and your thoughts about it.
Aim for 10-20 minutes but do as much as you actually have time for; don’t miss out because you’ve only got 5 minutes to spare today. Don’t stress if you can’t find the time every day.
Start with the things you like about yourself. Don’t even think of missing this part out! Maybe you are really happy with the way you feel when you dance. Perhaps you can point your toes really elegantly. Can you make a good snap when you snap your fingers?
Here’s an example of mine. Even in my darkest days, I have always loved the way my body is very at home in water and how being able to keep myself afloat effortlessly is so liberating.
I’m not for one moment trying to suggest that if you can fold your tongue in half that tongue folding is an Olympic sport and you’re right up there with Serena Williams as an athlete.
No, not at all. I’m trying to get you to think about your body in a different way, and to think about it positively at least some of the time. By all means think about your genuine limitations too. But if you exercise a bit of lateral thinking at this stage you might learn some things about yourself that surprise you and help you out later on.
This kind of thinking helped me to learn that I have a lot of patience for learning to do things properly for their own sake, By adapting my health goals accordingly I’ve managed to keep going way beyond what I ever thought I could do.
Start to establish your personal comfort zone
How ”in” is getting out of your comfort zone right now?
And how exhausting is it to be constantly out of your comfort zone? No one can genuinely keep that up for any length of time.
Your comfort zone is your launch pad. This is where it all starts. It’s a place to catch your breath, a place to get the rest you need in a busy life.
Knowing what feels comfortable, what you can rely on in yourself is always useful. It’s both something to fall back on in dark days and a platform for spreading your wings in the good times.
OK, intuitively you know it’s not good to spend your whole life in your comfort zone. Impossible, in fact.
But instead of trying to either constantly escape from it or to it, why not try to be intentional about your comfort zone. That way you can enjoy it while you’re there and appreciate it when you leave it from time to time.
I challenge you do start doing these 5 things today and not feel the beginnings of some fitness mojo before long.