The workout paradox

Did you go to bed last night thinking about how early you needed to wake up to squeeze a morning workout into your day? Only to barely open your eyes and re-evaluate all your life goals, determine sleep to be your own ally in this big bad world and struggle to reunite with sleep until the next alarm.

This tends to happen, as most of us set impractical goals of starting a workout and this does not always favour the bold. We assume, working out 30-45 minutes a day would burn enough calories to satisfy our need to feel productive. The intention is good, the drive is positive, but for all the wrong reasons. 30 minutes might seem quite simple at the beginning, but a year from now, are we still going to keep up with that? This is because our brains are habitual and need consistent adaptation to activities and schedules. 30 minutes a day, for a year is too long for our brains to process. We slowly start to lose interest and the drive.

Starting slow and setting a daily pace is key to wiring our brains to prepare the body for a workout, as mental willingness plays a role more important than our physical condition. Starting small has the added benefit of bypassing the fight-or-flight response of our brains. This is the feeling that kills your will to get into any commitment that “feels” too big for too long. This way, instead of mindlessly letting your brain to wander while you start a routine, you could start by building a habit that could slowly expand into a better routine, as your mind and body slowly acclimatises to it.

Another factor that ruins it for us, is when you feel like you have to force yourself to do it. This is probably one of the best ways to quit working out faster than you start. Chances are, you are already doing it wrong and you will not stick with the exercise as there is no positive relation to your lifestyle and workout.

The determining step, however, is the mindset of “trying to get my business in order” that really takes the prize. You might need new running shoes, start on a diet, got a trip planned to somewhere, weekend party coming up and a million other reasons, you don’t normally think about until you have to start working out. Is neglecting yourself and your body for a few more weeks/months the right way to go about it? Will it make a difference, big enough, to actually allow you to get your business in order before finally starting to work out? What time is the perfect time to start a habit?

I’d say, wake up. Take a deep breath. Form habits on instinct; not strategy. Go small, build better; not big or go home, because you will definitely go home before long, if your efforts aren’t put into forming habits. Live out your days in constant appreciation of what you are capable of doing; not what your friends or family have achieved based on their stories and ideaology. Live on your terms. It’s your game.

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