Our relationship with exercise is a rocky one. At first, we are infatuated with our new love, then we lose steam, the love may fade or we might even get hurt—literally. For many of us our relationship with exercise is “on again, off again.” It may be just a summer fling, a casual relationship, a fleeting New Year’s resolution or even a one-time thing. But what we really need in our lives is a devoted, long-term, loving, committed relationship with exercise.
Exercise should be the one we grow old with, the one we turn to when we are stressed or sad, the one we celebrate with and the one that sticks with us through thick and thin. Here are some pointers to maintain a healthy relationship with your exercise program:
- You win some, you lose some. In every relationship there are good days and bad days. Don’t hold a grudge against your exercise program. Forgive that treadmill for the battle it waged on you the day before. Forget about the terrible fight between you and your dumbbells. Come back the next day and move on. You may need to compromise or make some adjustments to your exercise program in order to continue happily.
- Be patient with progress. This is a slow and steady kind of relationship, not a brief flame. Be patient with yourself as you improve. Changes in the body generally happen slowly especially if they are meant to be lasting. Stay in it for the long haul!
- Spice things up. Keep the passion alive by trying new things, ramping up the intensity, cross training, or changing the order of your routine. Ruts are no good for a healthy relationship.
- Don’t sabotage. Don’t undo all your hard work by splurging on junk food or skipping workouts. You can counteract any good workout with a bad binge session. Stay faithful to your exercise regimen and trust in your hard work. Self fulfilling prophecy is a psychological construct that means if you think you can’t do something you may self sabotage and give up in which case your original belief comes true. Don’t do this! Don’t stop before you’ve started. Don’t hinder yourself from achieving your goals just because you’ve failed in the past.
- Spend quality time together. You and exercise can never be serious unless you spend time together. Quality time includes a commitment of both time and quality. You must schedule or set aside time to exercise. In addition, while you are exercising be focused and mentally present. Just “going through the motions” can lead to boredom, plateaus, or potential injury.
If you have been on and off with exercise today is a good day to sit down and think about your goals. Where will you be in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? How healthy will you be? Do you see yourself exercising regularly for the rest of your life? Begin and develop and cherish your relationship with exercise. Like any good relationship, you will get back what you put into it. There is give and take, good and bad, but the overall outcome is highly rewarding