Like most of you, I know that exercise is essential to a healthy life. Essential. Yet I always feel I lack the time and certainly the drive to get myself to the gym. Why not exercise in a park or at the beach instead of the gym, you might ask? I’ll tell you why… because who wants to bounce around in public?! High kicks and squats – of course everyone is watching me! What a silly question. Well, why don’t I exercise in my house where no one can see me then? Because I live in a little apartment where my skipping rope hits the ceiling and the only space for burpees is in the kitchen, and that’s an OHS issue.
Yep, I’ve got an excuse for every suggestion you’ll give. Time, money, effort, energy, embarrassment… you name it.
I could easily play sports all day. I’m a social and active creature who is all about that kind of fun exercise, but the gym…different story.
I tried jogging once upon a time. The problem with that one was I like to jog with music playing in my ears (blocks out the sound of my thumping heart), which is near impossible when every step I take the earpiece pops out. Trying to keep those things in my ears is exercise enough! I remember watching a scene on the movie ‘Bride Wars’ when Anne Hathaway tells Kate Hudson “only people who can’t be alone with their own thoughts use iPod’s.” Well Anne, of course I don’t want to be alone with them – my thoughts are telling me “OUCH YOU B!@#$, this hurts, why are you hurting us like this? You pick up these legs and you take us home right now!”
So I put my jogging days to rest. Apparently it’s not good on the knees anyway. Justified.
I am describing my mental battle with exercise in great detail because I’m sure many of you can relate! But more importantly, so you understand the gravity of the achievement I am about to share with you…I’m going to show you how I’ve learnt to get myself to the gym, regularly… I’ll pause for applause…
The Barrier – I learnt that at any given moment when you have the impulse to do something you know you should, that you know will improve your life, but that you also know will cause you pain or stress in some way – your brain gets to work at stopping you. A simple summary of the brain: its sole purpose is to keep you alive and to keep you comfortable. The end.
So if you don’t want to do something, you naturally hesitate. You go from a state of action to a state of thinking. And any woman can think her way out of any decision!
The point is, you’ll never feel like doing things that are difficult to do. Never. And if you listen to your feelings rather than your gut, you will stop yourself from achieving your goals. Every. Single. Time.
I know that each of you remembers multiple times when your gut told you to do something or to avoid something – perhaps to walk away from someone – and you listened to how you felt about that decision rather than the instinct. And let me guess…your instinct was right, and you kicked yourself for not listening later on!
The Lesson – I go to bed at night with every intention to wake up at 4:45am and get to the gym (I’m super motivated at bedtime). But then I am woken up by that obnoxious alarm and for some reason my motivation does not wake up with my eyes. In other words, I hesitate and roll over. In this moment my brain takes over and keeps me laying there thinking about all the ways getting up is going to make me uncomfortable. I realised if I stopped hesitating then I’ll stop triggering the part of my brain that wants to stop me!
Or even if I do hesitate (which is often), I just have to start moving. Have you experienced that before? Maybe you were sitting in a meeting and you felt like making a comment or asking a question but immediately you were paralysed by fear of what others might think. Eventually, you just thrust your hand up, and then it’s too late – no more time for thinking, you’re already doing. Same principle.
The Secret – I never feel like going to the gym. I also never leave the gym regretting that I went. I always feel better afterwards. When I go to the gym it is because I have ignored my feelings and done what I know I needed to do. I get myself to act before I stop to think. It is a practice I am using now for most things I don’t want to do. Start the forward motion, don’t wait to feel like it (because you won’t), and JUST DO IT.
I know this is simple – and maybe you were expecting something more complicated or systematic or in an app form – but nope. It really is this simple. Try it out. Let me know how it transforms your life.
P.S If you are interested in understanding the science behind this principle you MUST go check out this book: ‘The 5 Second Rule’ – Mel Robbins. She’ll change your life.