One of the secrets to sustainable fitness is…
Finding something you like doing.
While this might seem obvious many people confuse it with something similar:
Finding something they like the idea of doing.
Let me give you an example. When I was managing a yoga studio back in Baltimore I would have conversations with people and yoga would come up.
Upon hearing that magical word many people would tell me, “That’s so cool – I love yoga.”
In my naïveté I then asked them about their yoga practice. Which was almost always close to nonexistent. They had invested in an expensive yoga mat, fancy clothes to do yoga in, and often a monthly membership to a gym or yoga studio where they would occasionally take classes.
But they mostly liked what they thought having yoga practice would do for them. They envisioned that if they were yogis they would be less stressed, more zen and look like the woman in the yoga studio advertisements.
Then there were the people who liked doing yoga. They usually came into the studio at 6 am bleary-eyed holding coffee 3 or more times a week. Often they would stay after class to ask the teacher details about a pose they were struggling with in their practice. When there were workshops on the weekend they were the ones who showed up and many of them even signed up for Teacher Training – even though they never intended to teach.
There is nothing wrong with liking the idea of something. In fact there are many things that I myself like the idea of.
For example, I like the idea of having six-pack abs. In fact, I have had six-pack abs before so I know what type of commitment and sacrifice it actually takes to get them.
But when it comes to the effort of planning meals and tracking calories, and saying no to pizza, ice cream and alcohol, it is not something that I am currently willing to do.
If I could effortlessly have six-pack abs by a financial sacrifice of purchasing some equipment, clothes and a membership to a gym, like those yogis who like the idea of doing yoga, then I would have them.
But you can’t just throw money at your fitness problems, you have to do the work. You have to invest the time and effort.
When you like the idea of doing something it is easy to invest some money in it, but when your alarm goes off at 5 am you will turn it off and go back to sleep instead of working out before going to work.
On the other hand, I like being strong…and not just that I like the idea of being able to lift heavy things when the need arises (even though I do), I also like the process of becoming strong.
When I am walking out of the door at 5:20 am to do my workout I am not excited or thrilled or motivated, I am dedicated. I show up and doing my sets and reps, even on days I don’t feel like it. I enjoy the process of seeing my numbers improve and if I have a bad workout I remind myself that I need to stick with it and be patient, the results will eventually come.
I read books on getting stronger, watch YouTube videos, and slowly advance towards my goal.
I am dedicated to investing time and effort into the process of getting and being strong.
When you like doing something you enjoy the effort and process. Not just the outcomes that you expect if you do it. You do other related things that indirectly help you reach your goals and you are patient while you advance.
You don’t have to like being strong to be fit. You can like running, swimming, biking, basketball, tennis, hiking, or even having a six-pack.
The list is endless. But if you find a process you enjoy staying fit is much easier.
Because then you will want to invest your time and effort into that process.
When you fall in love with the idea of being a fit person you look for the quick fix, the shortcut, the hack that will get you there.
When you fall in love with doing something you are too busy doing to worry about the end result, that is the path that will help you achieve your goals.
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