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Riding in Rocky Mountain National Park
An exercise program is like riding a bike. Depending on your level of fitness, it would be like starting to ride a bike at the bottom of a hill, on a flat road, or even at the top of a hill. The most difficult part is pedaling the first few feet to get moving forward. Once you have your balance, subsequent revolutions of the wheels are much easier. The path is not always flat, but full of hills and turns. You may get a chance to coast for a little while. You may have to pedal harder to get over a hill....

The point I'm trying to make is that, yes, the first couple of weeks are TOUGH. You have to change your normal schedule to fit it in. You're outside of your comfort zone. This is not a bad thing! After the first couple of weeks, it should get easier, more of a habit. It may take some of you longer to see results, but focus on the positive changes and build on them. Some of the first few changes will be mental--proud for sticking with your plan or enthusiasm for doing something different.

When you do get into a groove, adversity may occur--work becomes hectic, a family member gets sick, you injure yourself. Pedal harder! It's worth it.

Here are some of the common statements I've heard that can halt your progress, if you let them. When these thoughts enter your mind, try these ideas to keep building momentum instead of coming to a sudden stop.

Where does the time go?
I DON'T HAVE TIME. Really? How much TV do you watch? How much do you talk on the phone? I know everyone has many, many obligations these days, but even the busiest people can find time. It is less than one hour anywhere from 3-6 times a week (depending on your goals). Find a time that you know you will stick with. Make it priority! Make it fun! Once you get into the habit, you'll feel like you have more time because you have more energy and more motivation to do things.

I DON'T SEE CHANGES YET! Remember that exercising is about physical AND mental changes. It is not an overnight sensation. I bet you will find at least one "change" each week. Maybe you slept better, maybe you had more energy, maybe you were more assertive, maybe you lifted more weight, maybe you could see your bicep muscle! These are all signs--NOTE them and BUILD on them. I've been doing this seriously for more than 7 years, and I still see changes.

I AM SO OUT OF SHAPE THAT IT WILL TAKE ME FOREVER TO GET INTO SHAPE. Yes, it is not an overnight sensation. It's a lifestyle change. Incorporate new habits into your life. You don't have to change everything at once. Do the best you can do and be proud of your accomplishments. Remember to find your reasons for wanting to do it and stick with it. Although most people dread the thought of taking "before" pictures, they can really open your eyes. They can convince you to get active for the first time or to get back into it after losing track of your reasons for being fit. I wasn't always in shape and here's the proof. The second was taken when I entered a Body-for-Life Challenge to motivate me.

1993-After second son was born 1999-Muscle, but eating too much.
Holding 2nd son Before Picture for Motivation

I DON'T LIKE TRAINING BY MYSELF. Some people work better by themselves, some need a training partner. Which group are you in? Maybe you need to exercise with a friend to keep you going. If it helps to have a training partner, find one that will motivate you, not bring you down.

I DON'T LIKE WEIGHT TRAINING. What?! Are you nuts?! Just kidding. Give it a chance, though. There are many different philosophies to weight-training--powerlifting, bodybuilding, building a specific type of strength for a sport. Find an approach you like. Find exercises you like. Muscle is active. Fat is not. If you have more muscle, you will burn more calories just sitting there. Weight training is the most effective way to build muscle and lose fat.

Hanging in there MY FRIENDS OR FAMILY GIVE ME GRIEF AND DON'T THINK I'LL STICK WITH IT. Hang in there! This is not easy if your friends or family are not active or into living an active, healthy lifestyle. You can still go out with your friends and family, but they need to know this is important to you. Your lifestyle will change. Seeing the changes in you may even encourage them to make some changes. Just don't let them bring you down. Turn it into a motivating factor to prove you can do it.

I DON'T NOTICE NEAR THE CHANGES I DID IN THE BEGINNING. There will come a time when it doesn't seem like things are progressing like they use to. The body is amazing--it is constantly adapting to the stress you put it through. It is ever-changing with age as well. That is the challenge of it. You cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different results. If you're happy where you're at, keep doing what you're doing. If you're not, change something! Do different exercises, change your schedule, refine your diet. Create a new goal to achieve, like running a 5K or entering a contest.


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