The biggest hurdle before us in our fitness journey, undoubtedly, is procrastination. We all want to be healthy and fit, but we want to be there without taking the disciplined effort required to reach there. We postpone doing physical exercise, always looking for excuses to keep away.
One moment we are full of resolve to be consistent with our workout. The next moment we push that resolve to the background and carry on with our fretful, pressure-driven responsibilities at home and at work. We keep telling ourselves: “Let today be like this. From tomorrow I am going to be regular”.
We are very much like the cat in the old adage, which would love to eat fish, but would rather not wet its paws fishing.
Is it because of laziness that we could not do physical exercise daily?It need not be the case. Life these days have no space for laziness. Most of us are active, very active, though not physically. We have so many responsibilities that we have no breathing space for laziness. In many cases, it is not laziness, but just an inability to prioritize health and fitness amidst all other responsibilities that pile up on us day after day. Lack of intelligent time management.
We wake up wanting to do physical exercise first thing in the morning, but postpone it for the evening because some responsibility or the other had unexpectedly come up. However, in the evening, something else is sure to turn up requiring our time. This pattern is repeated so very frequently that we tend to drop physical exercisealtogether from our daily routine so that we can be free of at least one botheration.
One of my trainees, who was very irregular attending the gym in spite of his genuine desire to be regular, was telling me what his problem was: “There is a guilt feeling at the back of the mind. I had resolved to do daily workouts because I knew I had to recover my health and fitness. But life is so busy from morning till night. When I skip exercises one day, there is guilt. When it happens the next day, there is more guilt. Then one gets to a point when it seems best to go without carrying that guilt. One way to do that is to forget the exercising altogether.”
However, how can we drop the burden of the guilt over neglecting our fitness without actually looking after our fitness? It can be done only by givingfitness due priority and attention in our daily journey through life. In other words, only by being physically active, consciously so. The cat has to wet its paws to catch the fish.
Seeing it not as an idea, but as an actual fact, do we recognize the importance of fitness in our lives? Once that is done, there shall be no problem incorporating a fitness plan that fits usin our daily routine. To keep us constantly interested and passionate about fitness, we have to only watch the improved efficiency with which we now handle our other responsibilities at home, work, study, or whatever.
One would suggest the following steps for the consideration of the chronic procrastinators among us. Simple steps to help you get over the problem–in fitness, as well as other activities in life:
Do hardest things first
Start rolling from the moment you get up. If exercise is the hardest thing to do for you, do it first thing in the morning. It sets the tone for the day. You may notice that it has a ripple effect on all your other activities of the day and you feel as though you are always riding the crest of each wave of activity that comes along. You feel great. You have a bounce in your steps.
Block your calendar
There is nothing like allotting a fixed time of the day for exercise, whether it is morning or evening. Morning, may be difficult for some of you, because it is rush time cooking, sending children to school and starting in time from home for work. But, if you can make time earlier in the day, it is the best. Else, find out the time that suites you best for exercise and block your calendar. You need to defend that time you have blocked, with all the might.
Choose consistency over perfection
Procrastination means carrying over in our mind the unattended tasks of the day. We cannot carry today’s burden to tomorrow, because, in this fast world, tomorrow has its own obligations to be attended to. We get bogged down for all time if we carry the burden of yesterdays. We call this the responsibility debt – when you transfer responsibilities of the present to your future self. We are never free.
We have heard procrastination being linked to perfectionists. The so-called perfectionists get started on any task only when all conditions are suited for doing the task to perfect satisfaction. They are waiting for Godot, the guest that never arrives.
If we choose consistency over perfection, there is action happening. Exercise need not be a full hour affair all the time. If you have only fifteen minutes to set apart for physical exercise on a given day of other hectic activities, that is enough.
Perhaps, eighty per cent of one’s daily workouts might be of indifferent quality. But the remaining twenty per cent might be of inspired quality. Together, they keep us in great shape.
At the gym, we tell the trainees not to worry if they could not find time every day for their gym visits. On days they could not make it, let them do some simple exercises at home, or wherever they are. The important thing is not to get off the fitness wagon.
(The author is co-founder and Product head at Alpha Coach and writes a fortnightly column on fitness for www.tribuneindia.com)