Today, Someday or Never
Someday isn’t a day of the week. How’s your week look? No time for fitness again? We’ve all been there. Maybe you’ve said, “I’ll get fit someday….”
The difficult part of this approach is that life will inevitably throw things at you needing immediate attention. And too many of us expect the most well-rested and focused version of ourselves to show up for workouts. We think, “I’ll start next week after the project deadline at the end of this week.” But when next week comes, it is not the bright green valley of energy and time that we had imagined it would be. Our energy is still divided among multiple responsibilities. And the week after that also has some unforeseen little challenges coming at you. So you put it off again. Someday slides easily into “never,” and you can wake up wondering, “How did this happen?”
The benefits of fitness are often mistakenly framed in terms of long-term benefits: look great next summer on vacation, lose that extra weight you’ve put on in the last few years, lower your blood pressure, etc. These don’t really motivate your tired, stressed brain right now, in this moment, when you are dealing with all the adult-level stuff that demand your time and attention. Under these normal, semi-chaotic conditions of life, when you are tired and frazzled, your brain looks for ways to feel good now.
The result is that you may choose to dive under a blanket on the couch to binge-watch a show, eat comfort food or have a few drinks—all because for one brief moment in life’s torrent of challenges, you actually feel good. In this moment, your brain can’t distinguish between long-term good and short-term good. It just knows that feeling good is good. Do more of this!
A Different Approach
With fitness, if you wait until you have the ideal amount of time, energy or motivation to get started, you likely never will. Fortunately, fitness doesn’t require you to be perfect to deliver benefits—it only requires that you get started and make today a little better than yesterday. Getting in shape or out of shape is a steady, daily process.
One of the hardest things to do in the world is to get started with fitness. Make the next time you start the last time you start. And if you’re already doing it now, don’t stop.
We’ve all been there. I’ve had periods where I’ve been travelling a lot for public speaking, while working with clients at home, while selling my home and moving, while helping move my wife’s business to a new location, while handling multiple major home and car repairs, while raising our daughter, while…you get the picture. During this particular period, I didn’t make much progress with fitness, but I stayed with it. I was treading water, which is always better than drowning. For about half a year I was in maintenance-mode in my workouts. But nothing in life lasts forever, and that applies both to the good times and the tough times. Once the “major stuff” period was over and it was back to the normal level of crazy in adulthood, I kicked my workouts back up to feel like I was making progress.
You can do this, too.
Your Latest Crush
If the thought of exercise makes your inner voice say, “Ugh,” and your eyes roll, we’ve got a problem. It can’t be that way if you want long-term, permanent success with being physically active. You don’t have to love exercise, but you do need to get a crush on it. In fact, it’s better to stop doing forms of physical activity or exercise that you dislike and start doing something you enjoy—even if you only enjoy it a little at first, because it starts to shift things in your head. It helps you focus on the “feel good now” aspect of physical activity.
Have you ever noticed how much better you feel right after you are active—how your mind is clearer and your sense of optimism is heightened? That’s a nice emotional sugar-rush from a single dose of movement. And that is a reward for your feel-good-now focused brain. You are one workout away from a good mood.
Which Day Will You Do It?
Today, someday or never? When will you start? Fitness isn’t optional if you want to be happy, have a well-functioning brain and body, and enjoy what you love about life more.