I’ve been a gym junkie, runner or boxer for a quarter century or more (good God, I’m old).
I’m not particularly good at any of these pursuits. But what I lack in skill and athleticism, I make up for in perseverance.
If there was an Olympic medal for turning up, I’d win gold. And you could be sure I’d be there to pick it up.
So, Generation X, if you’re struggling to get up in the morning to exercise your commitment to, um, exercise, then I humbly offer my top five tips for finding your exercise mojo and unleashing the beast.
Tip One: How to Eat an Elephant
Most failures to exercise start in bed. And finish in bed.
Often this is because the thought of slogging it out at the gym or pool or track is overwhelming.
The alternative option, slapping your alarm into submission and rolling deeper into your comfy bed seems the better option at 6am.
But, as middle-aged Generation X knows, too much of the comfy-bed short-term gain will result in ass-widening longer-term repercussions. To even the playing field between the choice of comfy bed or sweaty workout, lure your mind along the path of exercise glory one small, achievable step at a time.
WARNING: Do not think about your workout or bike ride or judo session when you’re in bed deciding whether to get up or not. Only think about getting up.
When you get up, only think about taking your morning wazz (pee). Then, only focus on your coffee/water/kale smoothie/vodka. Then, getting dressed.
This is how you eat an elephant*. You don’t look at the whole pachyderm. You just take one little bite. Then another…
Tip Two: Murder Your Excuses
Be on high alert when you’re required to choose between acting or doing nothing.
Your conniving brain will try to trick you into doing nothing, because it’s easier than acting.
It will stall you or distract you or drag you into some social media rabbit-hole, but mostly it will convince you – with the sense of drama and ‘reason’ of Rob Lowe’s The Grinder – not to act.
When it comes to exercise, The Grinder in your head will argue that you can always hit the gym tomorrow or that you deserve a day off or that the niggle in your big toe might be exercise-induced meningococcal.
So how to beat your evil (lazy) genius mind?
Remove the barriers to exercise – no matter how small:
- Get your gym gear ready (Maggie sleeps in hers)
- Pre-locate your car keys
- Join a gym that’s near your home or work
Remove enough of these barriers and you’ll beat The Grinder.
Tip Three: Underachieving is Almost Impossible
Your evolutionary drivers will compel you to do better.
It’s why we humans invent things like robots and do things like, um, I dunno, go to the goddamn moon!
So too, we’ll naturally want to do better at exercise – lift a little more, swim a little faster, prancercise a little more prancier.
So don’t deter yourself from exercising by feeling like each session is going to be harder than the last. Just turn up.
If you do more, great. If you do less, cool. Turn up enough, and you’ll naturally trend toward doing more.
As the saying goes:
80% of success is showing up
Tip Four: You’re Not 20 Anymore
Beside the catastrophic stay-in-bed failure, the next biggest exercise killer is injury.
Especially for Generation X, who is discovering they are not 20 anymore. In your 40s, your body is less flexible, strong, agile and resilient. You will injure more easily and take longer to recover.
That 12-week exercise program will have the polar opposite effect if you go too hard out of the gate and injure yourself in Week 2. Then spend the next 10 weeks on the couch eating Doritos.
So, take warming up and stretching down seriously.
If you’re lifting weights, start lighter than you think, and build up more gradually than you’d like. For cardio, start slower and don’t go as long as your 20-something-self urges.
Final Tip: Feed Your Addiction
You won’t find much research arguing that exercise doesn’t make you happy.
I’ve looked. I’ll save you the trouble: There is a shit-tonne of studies proving the physical, mental and social health benefits of exercise.
Best of all, exercise gets you high. Legally and with no side effects.
Exercise releases endorphins, which brings you pleasure and has benefits like:
- Lifting your mood
- Attracting better social interactions
- And the list goes on…
Your base level of happiness will rise when exercise is routine in your life. So get going!
What else do you need to be happy? Check out this post.
What else do you not need to be happy? Check out this post for a laugh.
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*No elephants were harmed in the drafting of this post. The writer does not condone eating elephants (or rhinos, but has no firm position on munching on hippos), and urges readers to refrain from eating elephants in their entirety or part thereof.