If you have made the decision to get fit, congratulations are in
order, but unfortunately making the decision is only half the battle.
Keeping motivated is the single most difficult part of the road to
fitness, and often a lack of motivation can lead to us slipping right
back into the same old, unhealthy habits. So how can you convince
yourself to stay on the right track for longer than a week or two?
Unfortunately, the reward of fitness usually does not have a strong
enough pull in itself — if it did, we wouldn’t have gotten out of shape
in the first place. You need something more concrete to keep yourself
in line and headed toward your goals.
Setting yourself up to participate in future amateur athletic events
can be a great way to get fit while holding yourself accountable.
Running, cycling, swimming, tennis, and bodybuilding are all
single-person events in which you can find competitions local to you.
Likewise, there are team and partner sports with regular competition
leagues that you can join at any time. So once you’ve chosen an
activity, it’s a great idea to sign up for an event as soon as you can,
to give yourself something concrete to work toward.
Be ambitious with your goal, but also be realistic. If you have
never run before in your life and get winded going up a flight of
stairs, it probably doesn’t make sense to sign up for a marathon that’s
happening in three months’ time. It’s great that you’re excited about
learning to run, but be warned that nothing kills a dream faster than
realizing after you commit that you have taken on more than you can
handle. It’s a much better idea to sign up for something like a local
5k fun run, and see how you get on with that. It’s still going to be a
goal you’ll have to work hard for, but if it’s something you’ll
definitely be able to achieve, then that will give you the confidence to
move on to more challenging things in the future.
The more you get yourself entangled in your event, the better. Just
signing up for something can be enough sometimes, but if you’re really
worried about giving up, then it’s time to jump in feet-first. Get
people to sponsor you for charity, and tell as many people as possible
about what you’re doing, to increase the chances that people ask you
about it on a daily basis. If you’ve signed up for a team sport, that’s
much easier, because your team is counting on you to be there for every
single practice and game, and they’ll keep you in line. Also, team
sports often seem more like fun than hard work, so that’s likely to make
you want to come back as well, even though the exercise is pretty
Accountability is a great way to pressure yourself into doing
something you might otherwise give up on.
Fitness is notorious for
attracting people who quit within a week or two, because they feel the
benefits of sticking with it are not worth the effort they have to put
in. But if you have a concrete date and a lot of people counting on
you, you’d be surprised just how much you’re capable of accomplishing,
and how proud you’ll feel after you’ve reached your goal.