Sunday, January 3, 2010
Fleshy Friends and the Ten Steps to Exercise Commitment
Okay boys and girls, it's that time of year again. The time when that nagging little voice in our heads pronounces, "I can no longer shovel another piece of pecan pie down my throat and contemplate the fleshy friends that hang over each side of my jeans." It's the start of a new year, and as cliché as it might seem, a new year inevitably feels like a fresh start with renewed hope that this will be the year those fleshy friends pack their bags and disappear. Ah, but experience tells you you've been here before. You've been here and the best laid plans always have ended with a whimper instead of a bang. Those friends are still hanging around you. So what to do?
Here's the plan:
1. Create a Goal and a Strategy. This is the easy part. You know what you want. You want to lose weight and get in shape. There's so much information out there on the internet and in books about exercise and weight loss. You could lose weight just reading them all. Decide your personal goals, and then find a plan that suits your needs and schedule. There a million ways to leave your love handles. Pick one.
2. Make Yourself An Offer You Can't Refuse. Would you jump into a pool of freezing cold water on a winter day even if you knew it was good for you? Probably not. Would you do it if someone threw your puppy into the water? Of course. You have to throw something in the water to create serious motivation. Start day one of your exercise plan by sending an e-mail to 10 people stating your specific intentions and goals for exercise. Offer each of them $5.00 for every day you don't follow through on your plan. That's $50 a day if you slack off. Or create something for yourself that is really painful if you break your promise. You must do this to get the commitment ball rolling.
3. Start Slow and Small. Odds are you will have regrets after throwing your puppy in the water. You're going to be PO'd that you told everyone you'd do this thing, and now you have to do it. So go easy on yourself the first week or so. Start with ten or fifteen minutes of exercise a day. Cut back on just 100 calories. You will find that action begets action. Just start moving and your commitment and intensity will follow.
4. Create More Accountability. What? More than telling the whole world that you'll give them money if you screw up? Yep. Find a friend, a trainer, or a coach, who can provide you daily accountability. E-mail them at the end of each day to tell them how you've done with your exercise plan for the day. Find someone to whom you can report your successes and failures. Ask from them what you need to hear-- an "attaboy" or a wrist slapping
5. Visualize. This sounds woo woo to some, but there's science behind it. Visualize yourself at your goal weight with a fit body. Visualize yourself exercising and weight lifting. Do this every day in the morning and evening. You will rewire neural pathways in your brain that will support and enhance your exercise program.
6. Make An Unbreakable Appointment. If you had an appointment to meet the Queen, have gallbladder surgery, or fly to Europe, you'd keep those appointments. Make exercise an unbreakable appointment. Find the best times for you and put them on your calendar. Decide three urgent events that could break your exercise appointments and allow no others. Be sure to let your ten friends know your exercise days and times.
7. Redefine Who You Are. Don't allow yourself to think that you are lazy, non-committal, weak, or dishonest. Even if you backslide. Every day, out loud, tell yourself that you are fit and healthy, that you will do what it takes to stay fit and healthy, and that's who you are. Even if you don't believe it. Again, you are rewiring neural pathways. Give it time. Eventually you will believe it and be it.
8. If You Backslide, Let It Go. Enough said.
9. Acknowledge Yourself. For every little, teeny tiny positive thing you do in the direction of your goal, say "Hallelujah"! Tell someone, give yourself a reward, do a little dance. You are moving forward just by putting on a running shoe.
10. Couldn't Think of One. So there are only nine steps, but ten sounded better. Maybe the last step is saying goodbye to your fleshy friends forever. I hope you do!
Go get started right now. The year is slipping away!