I sat at the table and watched the group from across the room. The star athletes and cheerleaders from 30 years ago were getting reacquainted and having a great time together. Most had aged surprisingly well…which didn’t help. Sure, there were a few more pounds and a little less hair, but no one fell into the, “Oh my gosh…what happened to them??!!” category. I left the reunion with the strangest feeling.
I was a skinny teenager and I was never happy about it. The adults in my life would always tell me how much I’d appreciate that when I got older. I didn’t believe them, but I do now. In addition to being skinny I was also not a very good athlete. I tried, though.
I played on a basketball team in elementary school. I scored two points the entire season. I played Little League baseball for two years and I was actually hit by pitches more than I got hits. Led the team one season in the number of pitches I took on my arm, back, and leg. Gotta help the team somehow.
I played sandlot football and broke my arm. I played tennis and broke my arm jumping over the net trying to impress a girl in high school. I didn’t impress her, but I left a lasting memory. She mentioned it on Facebook recently.
I also played soccer my senior year. I was the lowest string possible. During the season ending banquet the best the coach could say about me was I ALMOST scored a goal one game. My team did give me the Pride Award for my positive and encouraging attitude. I think they just felt sorry for me.
A recent survey by Freeletics, a fitness coaching app, asked people about their attitudes towards exercise and healthy habits. One of the questions focused on the excuses we make to not exercise. Number three on the list is:
I feel I’m already too unfit.
If anybody was too unfit to exercise it was Arthur Boorman. He was a Gulf War Veteran with back issues. They were so bad Arthur could only walk with leg braces. Because of his inactivity he gained a lot of weight. That’s pretty unfit.
But, Arthur didn’t want to stay there and needed someone to help him. That didn’t go so well either. He was told more than a few times that, indeed, he WAS to unfit to change that part of his life.
Jessica Slaughter was in her 70’s and overweight when she was told by her doctor she was pre-diabetic. Jessica’s age and weight could easily have made her feel too unfit for exercise. But, like Arthur she rejected that idea.
We know about Arthur and Jessica because their transformation stories are so dramatic they made national headlines. Arthur used yoga. Jessica walked. Neither was easy. That’s why their stories made news. What they did is rare.
Thankfully, there are stories like this we can point to and say, “You’re never too unfit for a fitness transformation.” But, I don’t believe that’s the real issue for those who feel this way.
I believe there’s something far more debilitating than physical issues at work here. It’s the same thing I felt when I left my high school reunion early.
I always wanted to be an athlete, but the best I could ever do was make the team and watch from the bench. Seeing the star athletes at the reunion took me right back to how I felt it high school.
I don’t have what it takes.
Fitness must be won first in your mind before it’s won in the gym or wherever your exercise of choice happens. How many of us have decided to get fit and then get all fired up emotionally? We charge out of the starting gate only to sputter to the sideline a week or two later.
Every time we try and fail it adds to the story we tell ourselves that we’re just not able to do it. Or maybe you’ve never even tried, but you’re already convinced it won’t work. You tell yourself you’re already too unfit. Yeah…just like Arthur and Jessica. They were too unfit, as well.
The biggest difference is both of them didn’t believe that. They knew transformation was possible. When it got hard, and even when others doubted they could do it, they still believed.
The heart of the “I’m already too unfit” attitude is really “I don’t have what it takes.”
Except you do!
The key to believing that starts with a shift in your focus. If you believe you’re already too unfit it means your focus is on the large gap between where you are today and what you consider to be the end goal of exercise and fitness. Almost certainly that feels overwhelming. And, if you’ve never had success with exercise no wonder you don’t feel it’s possible…like you don’t have what it takes.
On January 2, 2013 my life changed. I got my first Fitbit. Pretty quickly I started setting step goals. I actually set my goals too big at first because I was excited and motivated. Eventually I learned the power of incremental goal increases to keep the momentum building.
But, what really grabbed me was the feeling of reaching my daily goal. For the first time in my life I was winning a physical competition. Even though I was competing with myself, it felt great.
That was more than seven years ago and I still feel a sense of accomplishment when my Fitbit vibrates indicating I’ve hit my daily goal. The story I tell myself now no longer includes the belief that I don’t have what it takes.
Never under-estimate the power of a win.
My radio morning co-host, Tracey, has had a long struggle with getting exercise to stick. She’s talked about this a lot on the air so I’m not revealing anything confidential. Over the years Tracey has tried a bunch of different fitness activities. But, after a highly motivated launch the excitement would fade and not long after the journey would end. She was pretty discouraged.
She’s also pretty normal. This is what happens to most of us. After that burst of excitement disappears we see just how wide the gap is between where we are today and what the fitness end goal looks like. That big gap plus no motivation equals excuses to not keep going.
At the beginning of this year Tracey took on the 30 Day Fitness Challenge. She set a daily step goal that was right for her. It wasn’t too big, nor too small. What I especially loved was that Tracey decided to keep her goal private. She didn’t mention the number on air. She didn’t even tell me.
It’s so easy to start comparing our fitness journey with someone else. But, we shouldn’t. Each journey is unique and special. Tracey was not only protecting herself by not revealing her daily goal…she was also protecting others. I love that.
The 30 Day Fitness Challenge can help you determine the right goal for you. It also has a contract you can sign with yourself. A lot of us have a hard time keeping the promises we make to ourselves. Tracey admits that can be her. She signed the contract which meant she was making a promise to herself to reach that goal every day…even on those days when it might be harder.
And she did. She kept her promise and reached her step goal every day. Win after win after win!
I watched my friend’s excitement and motivation grow! That’s the power of a daily fitness win. And, those wins are building fitness momentum!
Arthur Boorman and Jessica Slaughter didn’t believe they were too unfit to exercise. They also didn’t give in to the debilitating belief they didn’t have what it takes. You do too!
It can start with a win TODAY!
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
If you have struggled with establishing a habit of exercise, walking is a great opportunity to change that. Casual walking is good for you, but has limited exercise value. For walking to reach the level of exercise you need to increase the intensity and your heart rate and do it consistently.
If your walking is typically a casual stroll when the weather is nice and it’s convenient, that’s a great start to establishing the habit of exercise. Instead of trying to convince yourself several times a week to get to the gym, why not turn what you are already doing and enjoying into something a little bit more.
I recommend starting with this free guide to The 30 Day Fitness Challenge.
This free guide also includes a Daily Win Tracker. Every day you reach your goal is a win. After you start building a chain of wins you’ll notice your attitude transforming from “I don’t have what it takes” to “I DO!”.
If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the Fitbit Inspire HR. While it’s not cheap, it’s less than a few months at the gym. The Inspire HR also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.
Lastly, this blog is designed to help you embrace walking for exercise. As a fitness activity, walking is sustainable, flexible, effective, and fun. Every week I post new articles with stories and helpful suggestions.
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