I am writing this article as a way to help adults develop the proper perspective and mentality when it comes to fitness. If you have struggled with fitness in your life, perhaps what you need is not just motivation or guilt to get you going. Perhaps you need a complete shift of perspective, and there are both motivational and informative tips to help you succeed in your fitness goals. This article is for the unmotivated and mostly sedentary adult.
First, if you absolutely dread doing physical activity, perhaps what you need to do is define exactly what you think physical activity is or what you think you should be doing when you say you are going to work out. I believe everyone has a different idea about what physical activity actually is.
Perspective # 1: Physical activity to you is not the same as physical activity to someone else.
At the end of the day, if you are burning calories and sustaining some type of activity that gets your heart pumping and a good sweat going, you are doing something beneficial for your health. It’s up to you if that’s a Zumba dance class or a brisk walk, and don’t let anyone tell you that what you’re doing for physical activity is wrong or inadequate if you enjoy it and it gets your heart rate up for about 30 minutes.
If you have been largely sedentary for years, you must remember you are like a rusty, old car that hasn’t had an oil-change or been maintained properly.
Even though you are going from point A to point B, that does not mean you can go from 0 to 60 in four seconds. Fitness takes a very, very long time to build up if you have been sedentary for a time longer than a couple months and/or if you are above the age of 40.
Perspective # 2: You must always start at a lower intensity than you think.
You absolutely cannot do activities that are very intense or physically demanding if you have been inactive for many months or years. To do so brings intense soreness and a huge risk of injury. This more moderate approach also applies to diet and nutrition. Cold turkey rarely works. Let’s be honest for a moment. If you have been eating cake and McDonald’s every day for the past ten years and you think you can completely stop these habits on a dime and eat Paleo, you have missed the big picture with nutrition. A more moderate, sensible approach to nutrition needs to be taken.
Perspective # 3: You should enjoy your diet and eat foods you like.
How many trainers or dieticians have told you that? I bet not many. The reason cold turkey diet plans fail is because you instantly hate your life for starting it. You resent fitness because of the extreme diet you decided to use on a whim, or because you read the latest fad diet book at Barnes and Noble. This creates a hatred or bitterness towards fitness that should never be established. Do not cut out a food or food group in its entirety. Limit the consumption of certain foods or food groups that are problematic for you and follow a structured, balanced, nutrient-dense system of eating that allows you the freedom to eat what you enjoy.
Perspective # 4: Perhaps the most important perspective. Fitness is a way of life, not a four week crash program before a high school reunion or vacation.
Extreme diets and extreme fitness programs that cannot be sustained for life should be avoided at all costs, because they will eventually burn you out, injure you, and/or damage your metabolism. If you have largely ignored your fitness and health for a decade or two, a four or eight week program will not get you where you need or want to be. It will take years in itself, most likely, to reverse your reduced fitness to proper levels, and likewise, your physique will follow the improved fitness. You must foster and cultivate a lifelong fitness mentality. Choose forms of exercise you enjoy and even try things you might not think you will enjoy. But you must remember, if you do not see yourself sustaining this activity or fitness habit for years or your entire life, you may want to reconsider where you put your energy, time, and money.
The Takeaway: Some may need to think about fitness differently than they currently are thinking about fitness. Slowly make changes to your fitness routine, or lack thereof, and your nutrition habits. Be consistent with your fitness and nutrition and enjoy yourself along the way. Fitness and health are for life (literally and figuratively)!