Work flew by last night and here I am, back home, cozy and warm with a cup of green tea on this gloomy chilly morning. I am trying to decrease the amount of coffee I drink and so far I have been successful substituting it with green tea. I don’t drink coffee to wake up or have energy, in fact, my energy levels are through the roof and the nature of my job taught me to wake up and fall asleep on a moments notice without any trouble. I love the taste of coffee and the ritual of coffee and having been an addict for close to 20 years it is difficult to wean myself off. I don’t think I will ever stop completely, but I would like to limit myself to 1 cup a day and currently I have about 3.
But I digress.
Let’s talk about inspiration a little bit. So many people at work are asking me to share a secret of inspiration with them. How do I keep myself motivated to run? How in the world can you run non stop for 3 hours? Is it boring? Painfully horrible? Or what? How did I even start with the whole thing of transformation from the most professional couch potato ever to a health fanatic?
After years and years of procrastination one day you just have to say: Buck Stops Here and I am changing for good. I don’t believe in half ass transformations. I don’t believe in instant change. I believe in making a firm decision and having a plan. For example, don’t say I will start working out, a lot, real soon. Say - I am going to sign up for gym membership on Wednesday and will go 3 times a week and my first day is Friday.
Get your support circle involved. Announce your decision to your family, friends, coworkers. Social networks are great for the purpose of accountability. One Facebook status can go a long way. If you announce something to 100 friends of yours on Facebook, it will be difficult not to follow through.
Lower your expectations and set realistic goals. Don’t expect to be able to run 5 miles right off the bat, start with small increments, more like 0.1 mile. I am not kidding – you won’t be able to run longer than 1-2 min in the beginning and that’s normal. The same goes about weight loss. Stick with 1-2 lbs a week and keep trucking along.
Get yourself equipped, but don’t go overboard. To work out you need clothes. Start with basics – pants, shirts, socks, shoes. Don’t worry about heart rate monitors, Garmin, Camelbacks, etc. Most likely it won’t be necessary for the beginner as you are and it is easy to get confused and disoriented trying to buy the latest gear and not really knowing what to do with it. And it adds up financially. If you want to start running – get yourself a good pair of running shoes right from the start. The best way is to get fitted with the right pair at a specialty running store. Consult your runner friends, Google or Yellow Pages for locations and price comparison.
Get yourself a workout buddy. No matter how much motivation you have in the very beginning, you will need somebody to keep you accountable and push you along the way. It is difficult to skip a workout at 6 am if you know your friend is waiting there for you. In my case my friend Marina was absolutely perfect for the job :) She was in the same boat needing an overhaul to her life and our partnership worked out wonderfully. Both of us have gone through a successful transformation, lost a considerable amount of weigh and became fit.
Don’t be discouraged with minor setbacks. This is very important. If you get sick, take time to recover, but come back at it the first chance you get. If there is a tornado in the area and you can’t run, wait and run tomorrow. So many people are all or nothing kind of guys. If I can’t work out today, then forget it, the whole week is screwed! Oh, I ate a donut at work, let’s pig out the rest of the day and the rest of the year while we are at it! In your overall endurance and conditioning taking 1-2 days off won’t matter, but if you take a month off you might as well start from scratch. An extra donut won’t damage your day of healthy eating too much, but a month of overeating sets you back significantly. I learned how not to stress out over these type of things and I advise you do the same.
Read fitness magazines. Subscribe or buy regularly. There is a ton of knowledge, inspiration and motivation there. You can share them with your work out buddy to reduce costs. Read healthy living blogs, books, visit websites, such as runnersworld.com for more info.
Get a physical and clearance from your doctor if you have chronic illnesses or you are older than 35 and have been sedentary. This one is frequently overlooked and it can be dangerous not to know what your health status is and engage in strenuous physical activity.
Do what you like and enjoy it! If you absolutely hate to swim, then banking on regular swimming workouts is probably silly. If you enjoy playing tennis and riding a bike you are more likely to stick with the program if you do these activities as a mainstay of your fit lifestyle. If everything else fails or you don’t really know where to start - start with walking. It is free and it is great!
Take rest days. To keep your motivation high and avoid burnout, please take regularly scheduled rest days. For example, in running all the magic happens on your off days when you heal and repair your muscles and rest your cardiovascular system. You have to let your body and mind recover, it will thank you later.
I think I did pretty good with this post, right? :)
Have a great Sunday.