Wanting to get on track and actually getting (and then staying) on track are two totally different things. The million-dollar question is: how do we find the inner motivation to go from thinking about a healthier lifestyle to actually adopting one? How do we get off the sofa and out the front door? Finding Your Fit: A Compassionate Trainer’s Guide to Making Fitness a Lifelong Habit provides readers with practical tools that will allow them to connect the dots between wanting to make a health and fitness change, and actually making it.
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Chapter 2: Make Daily Movement Non-Negotiable
The worse your mood, the more important your workout is probably the Kathleenism that I personally find the most useful. I use it daily; I repeat it to myself like a mantra whenever I’m contemplating skipping my workout. My other mantra is “You are not the type of person who picks watching TV over exercising. If you want to watch a show, either watch it after your workout, or get on your bike and watch it as you cycle.” The main take-away of both mantras is that movement is non-negotiable.
I define non-negotiables as life events that, for the most part, you just do. You don’t seriously contemplate if you should or shouldn’t do them; they seem natural a part of your everyday.
Everyone’s non-negotiables differ slightly. Some people decide that saving a set amount of money each month is non-negotiable. Others decide that a daily family dinner is a must. Most people don’t question if they should go to work or pick their children up from school. One is not born understanding these events as non-negotiable, but they become an unquestioned part of our identity and routine.
Moving and eating well are two of my personal non-negotiables, but they have not always been. Even now, after years of learning to love exercise, I still don’t always jump for joy before a workout. I do, however, know that I will ALWAYS feel better after working out which is largely why I am no longer as tempted to skip as I once was. I used to do maybe 75 percent of my scheduled workouts. Now I do maybe 97 percent. I’m proud of that percentage, but it took work. My follow-through rate increased because I gradually changed the structure of my life and, possibly more important, I shifted my mindset so that daily movement became one of my non-negotiables. It became a non-negotiable partly because I can honestly tell myself that I will be a happier, peppier version of Kathleen when I move and the more of a funk I am in, the more of a non-negotiable I know my workout is.
My body has a kinesthetic memory of how great I feel post-workout. Years of experience have taught me not only to push through the “will I or won’t I” phase of my internal exercise question, but also to try not to even allow the question to enter my head. This relates to a point I have already made that maintaining a healthier lifestyle takes perseverance, and that it is not simply enough to work through challenging times, you also have to learn from your mistakes. A Kathleenism you’ll see me repeat many times throughout this book is, when you fall off the fitness horse, don’t give up. Use it as a learning experience and get back on a more informed rider. Setbacks are inevitable. You can either be discouraged by them and let them defeat you, or you can learn from them. The former is not helpful; the latter is. Learn from setbacks: use your experiences as building blocks in your quest to make healthy eating and movement non-negotiable.
To do this, we have to change the way you frame the exercise debate in your head. Notice that I said “we” I’m invested in your fitness mission too. I want everyone to succeed and feel more energized and empowered. My ultimate goal is to minimize the times you have the internal “will I or won’t I exercise today” debate. To do this, we have to reframe the “exercise question” in your head.
Stop saying, “Will I exercise today?” Instead say, “WHEN will I exercise today?”
Tell yourself, “I AM the type of person who makes working out a priority!”
Substituting when for if may seem like a silly semantic change, but it’s not! Asking yourself, “Will I exercise today?” gives you a loophole, an option to skip moving altogether. People who ask themselves, “Will I exercise?” give themselves the okay to decide that today is not the day to move. Let’s look at the following scenario: You sleep past your alarm and miss your workout, so you think, “Crap, too bad. I have plans after work, so I guess I can’t work out today.” That’s the thought process of someone who asks themselves, “Will I exercise?”
Now, imagine this scenario instead: You sleep past your alarm. You wake up and say to yourself, “That’s too bad, but since not moving is not an option, what is my plan B? When will I exercise?” In the second scenario, the person fits in movement by going for a walk at lunch, taking the stairs throughout the day, and doing core work on the floor in the evening as their kids play. Sure, they didn’t get to do their full workout and, yes, a full workout may have been ideal, but aiming for perfection is not usually useful. The fact that a full workout would have been better is a moot point because it didn’t happen. In scenario two, at least the person didn’t give up. They formed a contingency plan and did something. Not moving was simply not an option. The next step in their fitness journey is to analyze if their original goal of training in the morning is realistic. If training in the morning is an unrealistic goal, they will continue to miss workouts, so they might need to rethink that goal. I discuss goal setting in detail in chapter 4. Get excited!
Thinking, “When will I exercise today?” makes movement non-negotiable.
Now, I get it if you’ve never worked out, the idea of daily non-negotiable movement is probably daunting. It can be hard to make yourself move when you’re not in the habit of exercising. I remember how hard it was at the beginning. My mom had to drag me to the gym. The good news is that it does become easier. Once you have established a habit, you’re less likely to ask yourself that “will I or won’t I” question. Plus, when you exercise regularly you develop a kinesthetic memory of how great you feel post-workout, which will help motivate you to exercise.
I’ve been able to make movement non-negotiable because for the past fifteen years or so I’ve learned from my health mistakes and gotten right back on the horse. Through some successes and many errors I’ve learned what works for me. I’ve consciously formed positive habits that create an environment where daily movement and healthy eating can both be non-negotiable. The three key words from the above sentence are learned, consciously, and habits. Apply the information I suggest in chapter 1 to learn how to consciously create healthy habits and how to set yourself up for success. Once you’re set up for success, understanding daily movement as non-negotiable will be that much easier.
How Can You Make Movement and Healthier Eating Non-Negotiable?
First, try to implement the concrete steps I outlined in chapter 1. To review:
1. Stop aiming for health and training perfection. Perfection is not possible.
2. Remember the two Cs. Make your workouts convenient so that you do them consistently.
3. Work toward finding your exercise bliss; find things that you LIKE to do so that training no longer feels like an obligation.
4. Find your health dream the emotional reason WHY you want to move.
5. Flip your negative thoughts; turn “I don’t want to train” into “I am so lucky that I get to train.”
6. Find your inner athlete; learn to be proud of what your body can do, not just of how it looks.
7. Mindfulness + Preparation = Success. Become mindful of your particular health pitfalls so that you can prepare solutions in advance.
These steps are described in more detail in chapter 1. Following them will help you create healthier habits and thus an environment where daily movement can become one of your non-negotiables. Soon you will think of moving like brushing your teeth something you don’t even contemplate not doing; you just do it!
Now, as I stated earlier, I have not always considered moving and eating well non-negotiables. I have spent fifteen years making them my non-negotiables. Even now it sometimes takes more than these seven tips to keep me on track. Whenever I feel like I am slipping backward in my health journey, or I am frustrated with my progress, I remember these next four tips. They help me continue to make movement and healthy eating non-negotiable, even when I just want to sit on the sofa and eat chocolate.
Never give up on making moving and eating well non-negotiable!
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: How to Set Yourself up For Health Success
- Chapter 2: Make Daily Movement Non-Negotiable
- Chapter 3: Some Movement Is Always Better Than No Movement
- Chapter 4: Make Fitness Goals, Not Fitness Wishes
- Chapter 5: Adopting a Healthier Lifestyle is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
- Chapter 6: The WWH Rule of Your Eating Habits and Adopt the Captain Obvious Approach to Health
- Chapter 7: Establish a Health Entourage
- Chapter 8: Stop Fixating on the Scale and Aim to Get Out of Body Debt
- Chapter 9: Ways You Might Be Unknowingly Sabotaging Your Progress
- Chapter 10: Variety Is the Spice of Life
- Chapter 11: The “Choose Your Own Adventure” Exercise Program
- About the Author