Why is this a problem? Isn’t exercising simple enough? If you want to run, then go out and run. If you want to gym, then go out gymming. Why is this such a hard thing to do?
When you ask this question to someone in a one on one conversation, you get a predictable set of answers.
I’m just not cut out for it
I can never do something like this I just never get the time
As you dig deeper, you realize that this is a psychological issue. It is further complicated by our ignorance of how habits work!
When someone says, “I am lazy!” they have ensured that they will never exercise in their life. This belief tells the person that “Exercise requires energy and commitment. I am lazy. I do not have energy. I can never exercise.”
It becomes impossible for you to even consider the possibility that you could exercise. Answer the following questions:
Can you stand up, right now?
Can you jump thrice?
Can you repeat this every day?
Can you increase your capacity everyday?
The answer to these questions is yes. Some people might disagree about the last question, but we can come to that later.
So, the basic idea is that we can do a minimal exercise right now. The problem is that even if we could, we don’t.The answer to that does not lie in a philosophy but in the architecture of our habits.
Exercising would be easy if instead of thinking and deciding about it, we could just make it a habit.#Habits need triggers and an #action Click To Tweet
What is a trigger? Do you remember clicking on that red notification icon in facebook? That red icon is a trigger that makes you form a habit of checking out notifications. When you keep checking notifications, you reinforce the habit. You keep checking notifications because you like to see likes!
In the above example, we have seen a trigger, an action and a reward in place. That is what makes for a habit.Can we use the same thing for an exercising habit?
Let us say that you are an absolute bum. You have never exercised in your life. Let us try and make a habit loop.
You are at your desk. You receive an email. Now you have to reply to it. Let this be your trigger.
Get up and do a bit of stretching. Jump, maybe once. Keep it an easy task!
Reward yourself by saying that you have exercised once more. Keep a tally mark, perhaps.
Such an easy loop, right? That is the least that you can do.
If you have more time, or if you are not hopeless, you can do a better job. Instead of a single exercise, do a regimen. Instead of an email, let a time slot be your trigger. The reward can remain the same.
Another tip: it is easier if you can follow instructions instead of thinking about them. This means that you should look for tried and tested regimens.
You are your own gym has an application that comes up with routines for you. C25K is another program that promises to take you from the couch to a 5K race. That’s all folks. That’s all there is to exercising, a habit.
There is one more thing left, the code red. This is what you will do when all hell breaks lose. You have an exam, and you cannot exercise.You have a deadline, and you cannot exercise. You have an emergency and you cannot exercise.
What should you do in such a circumstance? It is again simple. Have an emergency protocol ready. Do not focus on getting a full session. Focus on completing a small session. It could be a 30-second session or a 2 minute one, but don’t break this.
The reason behind this is an interesting discussion in itself. What I find more interesting is this approach:
If you can’t fly, run.
If you can’t run, jog.
If you can’t jog, walk.
If you can’t walk, crawl.
If you can’t crawl, try to crawl.
That is how I remember the code red of emergencies. This approach is bound to work. The question is, what are you going to do with it. Are you ready to be awesome?