Spring brings a series of familiar events each and every year. Daylight extends longer each day, outside temperatures start to climb higher, and we feel the urge to go outside and clear the yard of the winter debris.
There is one more thought that usually comes to mind for me each spring. That is the thought of getting outside and starting to exercise regularly to lose weight and to get healthier. If you are like me, the next sequence of events are sure to follow. We’ve decided to go out and exercise and on the first warmer sunny day we put on our outside exercise outfit. You know the one I mean, the old sweat pants, T-shirt, hoodie overtop, old tennis shoes, and the tousle-cap. We start our exercise routine. That exercise routine could be walking, jogging, running, biking, or maybe just bending over 1,000,000 times to pick up sticks and tree limbs.
What follows is also a sign that spring has sprung. The next morning as we get out of bed we ache all over, we struggle to get up up, and we decide we will need a day or two before we get back to exercising. For the next week to ten days, we make every excuse known to man to avoid doing any exercises at all. Does this rite of spring sound familiar to you?
This brings me to the question in the title of this blog. How do you make yourself exercise? I am going to share with you a lesson that I have learned on how to beat my own spring struggle with exercise. I have learned that I need to focus on preparation and motivation. That sounds almost too easy, but let’s take a deeper look.
You need to recognize that these two steps are intimately related. They work similarly to another principle that I learned and is called the confidence/competence loop. Simply stated the more competent you are, the more confident you are to do a thing. The more confident you are to do a thing the more competent you become by doing it. That makes sense, right?
Let’s look at a practical application of this concept. In order to prepare for exercise, we need to be honest with ourselves and do something that truly helps us prepare to move to the next level of exercise we want to do. In this case that would be outdoor exercising. Outdoor exercises usually entail a lot of leg work (running, jogging, or walking) as well as aerobic activity (prolonged periods of exercise that make us work harder to get our air). We need to prepare to go outside to exercise. What are some of the most demanding legs focused and aerobic exercises we can do inside to prepare us for spring?
Swimming would probably best fit the bill, but I am looking for inexpensive, easily accessible, and not too time consuming. Let’s start with a simple squat exercise. This exercise engages the leg muscles, foot muscles, breathing apparatus, and even the arm muscles. We increase our cardiovascular system while doing squats, and if you don’t understand what I mean, stop right here and give me ten squats! Are you breathing a little harder now? Look at all the joints that get work when doing squats. We move ankle joints, knee joints, hip joints, the spine, and even the shoulder joints. This exercise can be done by anyone! If you need a little extra balance, rest on hand on the back of a chair. If you are not flexible, start with dips and move up to squats.
The coup de gras is that the more of these squats you do, the more competent you become at doing them. The more competent you become doing them the more confident you are that you can do more. When the confidence in your ability gets to that point, you start to challenge yourself to do more. The number of squats per day that you do starts to increase. The number of squat sessions you do per day starts to increase. Then you stop family members and friends and tell them to watch you squat! (OK…maybe I got a little too excited there).
You get the idea. Your competence has grown and now you are confident you can do more. The confidence to do more serves as your motivator to do more. You have found a way of making an exercise activate your pleasure center in your brain! Preparation has turned into motivation! (preparation/motivation loop = competence/confidence loop) This allows you to go outside and walk, jog, run, or pick up sticks without the nasty spring side effects.
If you are like me, you are thinking why didn’t he tell me this in December instead of at the beginning of spring? The reason is, like you I was not thinking ahead. Here is a thought. Start your squats today. Start by doing a comfortable number. When you are sore in the morning, remember soreness is not the problem or reason to stop, it is just an indicator that you did something different. Do the squats today, tomorrow, the next day, and the next day. I know that your preparation/motivation loop (competence/confidence loop) will grow quickly. Soon you will be outside exercising and getting heathier by the day!
I wanted to share with you also that I am down another 4 pounds with a goal now of getting to the 290 pound mark by the end of April! That would represent a 37 pound weight loss since October. I am posting these things not to show off, but to inspire you! You can help me by sharing this post with family and friends. Please, ask them them to check out my blogs and podcasts here on my web page, but also to go to my content on Facebook (@kirkweberchiropractor) and on IG, You Tube, and coming soon to Tic-Toc! Thank you for helping me help others!