It should be simple: You’re putting on weight or you’re not comfortable with your health or appearance, so you make a few changes to your diet and time for exercise, and voila. But like many things in life, it’s not.
With stalled attempts and broken promises eating at your self-esteem, it’s hard to find enthusiasm. Combine that with the wheezing that seems to be coming from you as you walk up the stairs, and the couch calls your name.
Why can’t that frustration rouse a reluctant exerciser into action? No clue. But we do have an idea of what it takes to become a lean, toned and chiseled paragon … or at the very least, a healthier, fitter you (we’re not magicians, just enthusiasts).
Thankfully, we live in a time when help couldn’t be more accessible. We have a wealth of motivational experience at our fingertips, and apps and technology that can help crystallize drive.
Here are some tips to take you there.
Photo by Nick Morales, courtesy of the Iron Cowboy
We live in an incredible era of information, ripe with tales of self-discovery and success. The internet is laden with inspirational blogs and sites that offer practical advice. Take the time to read some personal stories. And we don’t mean those corny “Success Stories” of women who got dumped and then got even. Find a story that suits your personality and sense of humor.
We like Angry Jogger, the website of Matt Waterworth, a Northern Irish man who reclaimed his life through running. His “warts and all” writing is gross, pithy and hilarious, but it catalogs a remarkable progression from lardy to lean.
The Iron Cowboy, aka James Lawrence of Utah, inspires fitness by attacking as many ironman courses as humanly possible. This would seem to have a natural cap, but Lawrence continually smashes it.
Don’t forget to look close to home, though. Your Twitter and Facebook feeds are likely full of friends and random people you grew up with who have established their own successful routines—for this to work, ignore the ones that annoy you, and focus on the people you admire. And never be afraid to reach out. Likewise, online groups can provide real strength-in-numbers support.
If you’ve suffered from numerous false starts, the frustration runs as deep as the indentations on the couch. You are not lazy; you just have to develop the mindset. The secret is that motivation comes from doing—it doesn’t precede the activity.
Keep your expectations reasonable and identify your progress. If you haven’t done any exercise in five years, don’t set yourself up for failure by trotting out for a quick five-miler. Start by testing yourself, then setting goals around that. The Goldilocks Principle applies to exercise—not too little, not too much, just right.
Apps like MyFitnessPal can help keep track of the calorie intake/exercise balance. Google Fit can even link with other apps to give you a measured perspective. The Fitbit and Samsung’s Gear Fit range are examples of wearable tech that can offer you an array of feedback.
Of course, you knew all that already. And you also know this stuff is useless without effort. But by using tech to track progress, you can create self-competition. The 10,000 steps a day thing can become quite addictive. Results and achievements will keep the motivation flowing.
As you improve, you will find your active lifestyle will start to influence your choices. It’s a snowball rolling toward confidence, esteem, well-being, health and self-respect.
Photo courtesy of Six to Start
The key to exercise is consistency. Integrating activity into your routine can help to form precious new habits. There are some tracking apps that work to enforce the creation of new patterns. Strides, coach.me, Streaks and Momentum are some of the best out there.
Plenty of specific apps tailored for things like running and cycling offer ways to plan routes and schedule time. You can do it yourself by fitting fitness in around tasks you tackle every day, like going to work or walking your dog. Then the exercise will become regular, just like the other activities. But if you really want something to stick, make it fun.
Do you like zombies and want to get fit? There’s an app for that. Zombies Run plays undead-apocalypse missions through your headphones. You have to run faster to escape the hoard. Runtastic offers story running downloads to add pace-quickening flavor.
There’s an impressive array of resources out there, but nothing beats your own ingenuity. The geocaching phenomenon has hooked millions of people. Try planning a run, bike ride or even a walk along a route of caches. Of course, if you’re reward driven, how about running for beer? Groups and events combining suds and exercise are springing up all over. Paste Health reminds you to exercise responsibly as you carve out a trim new you..
Benjamin Kay lives on the Suffolk Coast of England and has motivated himself into a regimen of cycling to the pub and walking around the countryside.