If exercise is too hard – break it down.
There are going to be days when you get up and the very thought of exercise is going to fill you with loathing or dread. Your normal daily allotment of exercise will just seems like a bridge too far.
It would be easy just to say to yourself that one day off won’t make any difference but deep down you know that just won’t cut the mustard. It will make a difference (see thought 25). So how do you handle it?
It isn’t the exercise – it is the amount of exercise that is doing your head in. So the best way forward is to break it down into bite size chunks. That way you can work yourself into it and get it down.
For example, I usually do 90 minutes on an exercise bike. I have learnt that 90 minutes straight on an exercise bike is a big ask and I rarely do the 90 minutes in “one go” (I only do it if I’m really pressed for time). I usually break it down into three 30 minute lots and have a short break (and a towel down) in between. That is something that I can handle.
What about the days when even that seems too much? On those days I steal myself by playing the “break it down mind game”. This is a stratagem I developed when I was losing weight and continue to use in maintenance.
Let’s use the exercise bike again as an example. What I do is tell myself I can at least do some of it and commit to doing the first 30 minutes. I don’t even have to start off at my usual speed...the main thing is to get my butt on that bike and moving. Soon the legs are starting to get into it and the familiar kicks in and usually the speed increases to normal. After the first 30 minutes, I get off, towel the sweat and start telling myself that I should do at least half the normal exercise. Once on the bike I start doing the 15 minutes (half way) and then as I’m reaching that mark I remind myself that effective length of exercise is 20 minutes and that I would be wasting it if I didn’t do the extra 5 minutes. So onwards I pedal past the half way mark and as I reach the 20 minute mark I start to think that it is only another measly 10 minutes to doing two thirds of my normal exercise. Once that goal is reached and I’m resting and towelling myself off again, I start to think about the last third undone. With two thirds of it accomplished (which I thought I wouldn’t be able to do) it seems such a shame to leave the last third undone. So I get on again, promising just to do it “easy” but knowing that once I’m in the rhythm I’ll be giving it my all until it is achieved.
By breaking it down, the journey up the mountain isn’t so tough. Just make it about one step at a time...and that each of those steps will get you to where you want to go.
Now: keeping it off for life!