Most of us dread and avoid exercise because it’s painful, repetitive, boring, and a time-suck. What a shame that it’s the only 100% effective way to improve your mental and physical health regardless of your age or physical condition. Since exercise is too bitter a pill for many to swallow, I’m going to give you my top tips for getting over that hump and pushing yourself to move.
I’m far from a perfect physical specimen, but I don’t have a belly bump and can perform some pretty remarkable maneuvers for a guy who can remember Green Stamps and carbon paper (that’s me, born 1949, in the pix during a recent motivational speech—they applaud every time). So yes, I exercise pretty diligently, but I can’t say that I look forward to it.
So how does a motivational speaker get motivated to move his body? Here are some of my tricks, and if one works for you, great.
1. Setting an attainable goal and a deadline to reach it can work wonders. A few years ago I softened up and didn’t like carrying around a jelly belly. I set a goal to drop 24 pounds—two pounds a week—before going home for Thanksgiving. I stuck a sign on my mirror that said, “Don’t be a wimp. Do it.” I needed a stronger push, so:
2. I told my wife what I was GOING to do. Now I had a contract. Only two things shed pounds: diet and exercise. When I thought about not getting sweaty, I remembered that I had a contract with my best friend and soul mate. I couldn’t let her down.
3. Although I’m responsible and we have good coverage, I HATE paying for insurance of any kind because the “what-ifs” usually it don’t happen. To me, exercise is free insurance and a sure thing. I truly believe that every day I jog, stretch, and lift weights, I’m adding a day to my life that I’ll be ABLE to do those things. Living a long “life” unable to do simple things like climb stairs and chop firewood doesn’t appeal to me. I want to be active until I tumble off this earth.
4. Years ago, I’d wake up, caffeinate, and hurry through my exercise routine (or skip it) because I’ve always been a freelancer and I had TO GET TO WORK to support my family. Then I realized that I have to stay in shape to do my job well, and I reframed it: exercise is part of my job, so when I’m exercising, I AM working, and now I feel good about it. No matter what you do—raise kids, sell, teach, run a business—you know you’ll do it better and command more respect if you’re in shape. Make exercise part of your work day.
5. I usually don’t allow myself the luxury of reading the morning paper because my To Do List is nagging me to put it down. Then I got a treadmill, and it’s amazing how fast 45 minutes can go when I’m absorbed by what’s going on in the world and my town.
6. My wife and I eat healthy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t splurge on ice cream, steak, French fries, and pigs-in-blankets. We LOVE fatty sugary stuff like everybody else, but we melt away the calories and guilt with exercise. So we trick ourselves into getting sweaty to earn a luscious splurge. Works for us, might for you.
Now get movin’!