Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress.
That quote has inspired me many times. This bit of writing is me sincerely trying to give you motivation if you are this person: you know you need to be more active, but always come up with reasons why it's not the right time. I love helping people on their fitness journey but I can't help people who aren't ready to help themselves. Believe me, I have tried. It only wastes their time and frustrates me. At the end of the day, it's your life and it's all up to you what you do with it. You are responsible for you.
But maybe you're not too far gone... wink, wink. If you keep having that nagging feeling that you shouldn't be putting off exercise and healthy living any longer, read on for inspiration to GET OFF YOUR BUM and start moving, already! NOW is the perfect time to start. Read on for why.
I'm writing this at the time of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak. We've all been encouraged to practice social distancing, stay home as much as possible, and avoid unnecessary contact with others. Schools, universities, restaurants, bars, and many businesses— big and small — are closed. Many people are stressed and scared; finances and time are tight. On the other hand, many are bored, feel confined to their homes, and extroverts everywhere are climbing the walls without being able to get out and about. Many parents are struggling to get anything done with their small children at home all day. All of these reasons are exactly why NOW is a great time to take charge and start an exercise habit!
There’s never going to be perfect conditions for life. There’s never going to be a magic time where everything aligns. (I’m going to start after the summer. I'm going to start after New Year’s... after my house renovation... after I start my new job... after social distancing, etc.) The hard truth is: things will not get easier and life will not get less complicated. There I said it. Things are not going to magically line up. Your life and to-do lists don’t hit pause or take breaks, so stop expecting the perfect time to get fit to manifest.
Don’t pause or put off your health any longer. Don't be intimidated by it, either. Just begin. Remember this: the most healthy and fit people you know were once beginners, too.
Remember this: the most healthy and fit people you know were once beginners, too.
Just start somewhere. Small changes add up like crazy. Perhaps a simple goal of walking 2 days a week would be realistic. (Read My Exercise Manifesto for encouragement that workouts don't have to be monumental events, but small daily habits.) Don't worry about specifics at first, just get moving. Later, you can make your goals or exercising more specific. Start small. You don't need to make a dramatic lifestyle change. In fact, it probably shouldn't be dramatic; that hardly ever sticks. Smaller changes are easier, more realistic, and you're much more likely to keep doing them. Small changes are little victories. Small changes create momentum. Small changes become habits over time, and healthy habits— no matter how small— can completely transform an unhealthy lifestyle into a healthy lifestyle.
This quote— attributed to Aristotle — says it well: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” It's hard to argue with that.
As far as small changes and small actions go, maybe you feel like it’s not helping as much as you’d like, but just keep going. These things take time. It’s much better to make slow progress than throwing in the towel completely and stopping. Throwing in the towel and stopping looks like eating thoughtlessly or giving in to being sedentary. On the other hand, slow progress in the right direction is extremely beneficial. Always remember: momentum builds and small changes snowball into big results. The habit of staying healthy and choosing yourself will pay off. Constantly adjust and tinker with your routine— without guilt— just don't give up.
...slow progress in the right direction is extremely beneficial.
Think of driving to a destination. Maybe you’d like to go 70 mph. But, perhaps conditions aren't favorable for that. Think of your progress to that destination with these 2 scenarios: 1) you adjust your speed and keep going at 15 mph or 2) you hit pause, turn the car off, and keep waiting for the *perfect* time to start back up (which will likely never happen). Which one seems like a better plan?
I recently read the book The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. It's full of great examples of how habits and small decisions can change your life. (I highly recommend it.) He gives an example that I'll relay to you in my own words. There are three friends: Friend A, Friend B and Friend C. They're all in their mid-30s, and are all starting to put on a few extra pounds. One day, they have a discussion over a couple of beers that they're all feeling a little frustrated in life. Soon after, Friend A starts listening to self improvement books on his commute and decides he needs to cut 125 calories a day— a teeny tiny change. B changes nothing. C begins watching the Food Network in his free time and learning to cook. Fast forward 5 years and here's how they all look...
Friend A started by cutting a few calories and after a few weeks noticed his energy slightly increased. He started exercising a couple days a week by walking, which gave him even more energy. Eventually, he is exercising most days a week and enjoys many types of exercise. He eats healthy and is in the best shape of his life. With more energy, he enjoys time with his wife and children more and they are thriving. By listening to his self improvment books a few minutes a day, he's started making better decisions in other areas of his life, too. His finances are in order, his sales are up, he's been promoted twice, and he's happier than he's ever been.
Friend B is still the same. He is still just a few pounds overweight— no big deal— and at the same job. Not much has changed for him, except that he is more disgruntled by the day with his lack of progress and advancement in life.
Friend C realized his love of cooking. By cooking rich foods he saw on TV, he added about 125 calories per day— not a big change at all. However, after a few years, he is severely overweight, has zero energy, feels lethargic, and so he does less and less physically. He doesn't sleep well at night anymore due to the extra weight. He is irritable with his wife and kids because he doesn't have the energy to do the things they want to do. He drifts further from his family and is not meeting goals at work. He is in danger of losing his job, his family and his health.
Friend A is thriving and Friend C is spiraling down all because of 125 calories?!? That's the power of the compound effect: small changes add up, habits compound, and they create big results.
There’s ALWAYS going to be something. I often recognize the type that lives like that. There is nothing I can say to talk them into doing anything. You have to be ready to change to put in the effort. Those that have the “always something” mentality always have a pretty good reason to put it off. Don’t be like them. Make your health a priority. Know what you can control and what you can’t. If life is in a terribly busy phase, think of ways to keep including something healthy or active in your day. Five minutes of exercise… a side salad with your meal… drinking more water and less sugary drinks... all of these steps make a tiny difference. Tiny differences add up to be big changes.
To those of you who are reading this and already find yourself making excuses, then you’re already doing it. Face it: a healthy lifestyle is simply not a priority for you right now. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, and people much busier than you still find time to exercise and eat healthy. You do have time, you just don’t want to put in the energy yet.
If you can't cut down on commitments or somehow free up a little extra time, figure out small ways to make your life healthier. Food prep on Sunday for the upcoming week. Do a 10 minute workout on your lunch break. How much time are you spending on social media? How much mindless TV are you viewing every night? Track one of those habits, and many of you would be shocked. You may have more free time that you think. What if you stop your mindless social media break and do 5 minutes of squats and planks instead? I bet you'll feel a lot better from 5 minutes of moving than from 5 minutes of scrolling through other people's lives.
Now on to a big problem: inertia. Inertia is hard to overcome. But it can be done. Starting is usually the hardest part. So be encouraged that if you just take the first step, you can accomplished a huge victory overcoming inertia. Take one small step today to be 1% better tomorrow, and keep that mindset every day. (Read this post of mine to help you set yourself up for success in 4 Exercise Habits To Get YOU Moving, or this one for a little help with setting up a basic and inexpensive home gym, Make Your Own Home Gym.)
Unfortunately for all of us, the perfect time will never line up. However, making progress is something you can do. Real life is messy, busy, and hectic for everyone. But you can always try to be a little bit better than you were yesterday.
...you can always try to be a little bit better than you were yesterday.
Lastly, please remember my favorite slogan in life: progress, not perfection. In an imperfect world, with a crammed schedule and a busy life, and with complications (like the coronavirus), sometimes your best plans get thwarted. Things happen. It's important to remember that when life gets interrupted, you must refuse to throw in the towel. Sometimes you may have to slow down, but if you just keep going in the right direction, however small the steps may be at that time, you'll stay the course. Now— right now— is the perfect time to take that small first step.
One day at a time. One step at a time. One decision at a time. One breath at a time. You can do hard things.
Love & Light.
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Hi, I'm Blake. I love adventure, cooking, costume parties, wine, yoga, and reading...in that order. Follow my blog for yoga stuff, fitness tips, & healthy recipes...
• The Meaning of Namaste
• Confessions of a Self Care Hypocrite
• Living In The Age Of Social Media: Swapping Comparison for Gratitude
• My Exercise Manifesto
• 4 Exercise Hacks To Get YOU Moving