Building and Maintaining Momentum
One of my favorite quotes comes from Herophilus, the physician to Alexander the Great who wrote: “When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot become manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied”.
The more I digest the meaning of these words, I cannot help but think how many of us have such good intentions about beginning a new exercise program yet find it so difficult to get started. If we are lucky to begin it becomes somewhat of a daunting task to maintain any sort of momentum that will produce the results we desire.
At the age of 46, I shared the experience of training for and completing a marathon (26 miles) with a close friend. Prior to this event and for many years after, I couldn’t seem to maintain any momentum with exercise. The more I reflect on the experience, I believe we were not merely interested in running the marathon- we were committed to completing it. This kind of thinking can apply to any exercise program.
Interest vs. Commitment
Research shows when we are only interested in improving our overall health through exercise there is a tendency to quit during the tough or inconvenient times. I am sure we have heard most of the following excuses: no time, tired, too busy, don’t know what to do, don’t feel like it right now and many, many more. Well, it is excuses like these that dominate our thoughts when we are but interested in implementing a lifestyle change.
The fact is when we are committed to our health we accept no excuses, only results. When we are committed, we understand that we are in it for the long haul and will do whatever it takes to feel the many benefits of our efforts. We make health our #1 priority.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to speak with many people about the above situation. Some who have mastered their commitment with respect to their exercise routine and others who continue to be challenged with not being able to maintain any sort of momentum.
How to Maintain Momentum
Here are a few ideas that will help you “jump start” your exercise program and maintain momentum:
1. Begin by creating/writing a Personal Vision Statement of the quality of life (changes and resulting benefits) you want to achieve and affirming a positive belief about yourself that your healthier lifestyle will result in increased effectiveness at work, a happier and more positive attitude, more energy for loved ones and friends, hobbies, reduced levels of stress, more relaxed and composed, more productive, less wasted time, etc… Think about the positive consequences for family, friends and others through the greatest gift that you could ever possibly give, the gift of health.
2. Read your Personal Vision Statement including benefits/consequences at the beginning and end of each day.
3. Set a weekly, bi-monthly or monthly goal related to your exercise/nutrition plan. Break each goal down into sub-goals and specific action steps. For example: First day- to run 3 stop signs at a slow pace and walk the next three and repeat. Each goal/sub-goal should be written down in a note book or personal agenda. Record your progress along with feelings and benefits. This provides a boost and can be a catalyst to establishing some level of momentum, especially in the early stages of starting a new exercise program.
4. Establish a schedule and mark it in your agenda. Be as specific as possible with respect to time, location, and duration.
5. Do not let thinking or feeling block you from implementing plans for a particular day. Remember you think first, then you feel, then you act. If you think that the weather is too cold to go for a jog, you will most definitely not feel like going. Having enough discipline to ignore your initial thoughts or how you feel and replace it with action will result in execution and positive consequences/benefits.
Repeated success with the above technique will help establish a daily routine and like a ball rolling down a hill, there will be no stopping you. You will have achieved the momentum needed to maintain healthy living which will guarantee the benefits you are looking for. As the days, weeks and months pass; you will continue to become stronger, healthier, happier and more productive.
Stop being inspired to workout and make a commitment to regain your health today.