One Thing You Must Have to Get Fit

This is a guest post by Doug Kelsey. He is physical therapist and performance consultant in Austin, Texas. You can read his blog and follow him on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

When it comes to fitness and health, what I hear the most is, “I just don’t have the time to exercise.” It’s true you need the time, but there’s something else you need more.

A Woman Holding Up One Finger

A couple of years ago, I had to do something in one of my businesses that I truly feared. I had to layoff a third of the work force.

The economic crash of 2008 had caught up with us and our business dropped substantially. We were burning through cash like an out of control brush fire. I had to lay people off but I had to have conversations I didn’t want to have: with the staff and myself.

I feared what might happen to the employees: Would they find work? Would I be the one responsible for putting them on the street? How do I tell them? And in my head, the conversation I heard was, ”You can’t do it.”

It was awful.

But, I had to act in the presence of fear. I needed courage.

It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done, but I did it and saved the company. And, I know that if I have another situation, one that creates, the same “I don’t want to have this conversation,” I have something to look back on, steps to follow, so I can find the courage I need.

Carving out the time to care for yourself, you’ll often need to have a conversation. Either to ask someone else to change with you (spouse, partner) or just with yourself (like I did in my business) to make a change.

People like routine more than change. Maybe your wife or husband will have to get the kids ready for school so you can fit in an early morning exercise routine. Doesn’t sound so hard, right? Unless that person is used to you doing those things. And if the conversation is with yourself, well, it’s even harder. You probably know that.

What many people fear is creating a new conversation about how to make change work. And because we usually avoid those conversations, we believe we don’t have time. And then we fail to build a new habit.

Without courage, there are no new habits.

Some people think that you either have courage or you don’t. But that’s not true. Courage is an emotional muscle. You build your courage “muscle” a lot like you build any muscle. You use it and exercise it. A little at first, then try a little more, and repeat
So, to build your courage and overcome the “exercise time” barrier, try these 9 steps:

  1. Make a list of options. You’ve heard things like, “get up earlier,” “use your lunch hour,” or “walk after dinner.” Write all the options you can think of to exercise.
  2. Write out your “Yeah, but” for each option. We all have excuses for why these options won’t work. So, write them out next to the option.  Maybe you wrote, “Walk for thirty minutes after work” and next to it, “Yeah, but I have to pick up the kids after school.” This helps you find all of your objections and makes them real.
  3. Find One “Yeah, but” and Make it a “Yeah, but I can!” If you are courageous, you will find at least one thing on your list you can make work. It could be asking your spouse to get the kids, or it could be skipping a favorite TV show to go for a walk. It’s there. Don’t quit on yourself. Don’t give up until you find one thing and then have the conversation.
  4. Put it on a calendar. Now, that you have a “Yeah, but I can” option, choose the day you’ll start and choose a duration—maybe a month—on a calendar.
  5. Tell someone about it. Accountability is a key factor in forming new habits. Tell a friend what you’re planning to do and ask your friend to check in with you and hold you to it.
  6. Do it. When the day comes, act. No fear. Get up and get out the door. You’ve just exercised your courage muscle.
  7. Do it again. Put it back on the calendar to do again. More courageous exercise.
  8. Repeat. Until you’re ready to add something else.
  9. Tell it. When you finish, tell someone. Celebrate it! Call your friend, post it on Facebook, Tweet it. You’ll be surprised how many people will rally around you.

If you exercise your courage, you will have a long list of healthy new habits.

Question: How have you used courage to fuel your health and fitness habits? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Jacqui_gatehouse

    Great guest post Doug and totally agree courage is critical.  I would add perserverence in there with it – to get fit and healthy, and stay that way, you’ve got to be willing to accept the fact that occasionally you’ll fall off the proverbial wagon and you’ll need to get right up, dust yourself off and continue towards your goal….

  • Jwheard

    I’d suggest one other thing once you start.  Make two promises to yourself – do it today, and do it tomorrow.  That’s it.  No more or less.  And after 3 months, your life will be different.

    • Travis Dommert

      Great point.  A very well-respected Christian author and mentor recently shared with me his trick to getting his program participants to make dramatic life change.  He said “Lie to them like Jesus did”.  Of course, my draw dropped.

      He said Jesus didn’t tell the disciples every detail and hardship, he just said “follow me”.  He said he just asks people to commit to change for one year…12 months, knowing that if they make it through one year…he’d impact them for a lifetime.  

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  • jessica

    I have started running every day at least by 7am before my household is awake so that running doesn’t take time away from my kids. If they are up, they go with me in the stroller. This is quite the challenge but I plan to do it every single day until november 12th :)

  • Gmpresley

    I can not tell you how many times I have these talks with myself. Especially when you are trying to have your Bible study time in the morning and your exercise time.

  • Kristin

    This is true.  I found my solution: do my 20-30 min a day in place of hitting the snooze button.  For 3 years I set my alarm to 5am but didn’t get up until 5:30.  I didn’t even have to change my alarm setting, and honestly the exercise makes me feel a thousand times more refreshed and energized than that extra few minutes of sleep!

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  • Louise Thaxton

    The only way I can find the courage is to think of when I get old – I mean “really” old.  Older than I am now – even though many call me “old” now!  But when I am really, really, old – I want to be physically fit.  I have to constantly remind myself that this will NOT be the case if I am not fit NOW (when I am old – but not REALLY old)

    Thanks for a great post, Doug!  I will head your way to check out your blog!

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  • Travis Dommert

    Need some more help finding that courage, read Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.  Dr. Ratey from Harvard shares studies done around the world on the impact of exercise and brain function.  

    Memory, creativity, critical thinking, anxiety, depression, adhd, sleep, aging, hormonal changes…pretty much you name it, exercise fixes it (or at least helps).  

    We were very active for a long, long, long time until recently (the last 50-100 years).  Now we more or less sit all day and eat junk.  Not a good combination.  Get up and get moving.  Your life depends on it!

    Need to sell this to your boss?  Have her look into any peak performance literature.  Exercise yields better results than another hour of whatever else you are doing.  

    In addition to lowering your company’s cost of healthcare, it positively impacts sales, leadership, service, quality, finance…because it positively impacts energy, focus, positivity, attendance, and teamwork.  It is God’s medicine for you AND your business.

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