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.