As I was stuck in Miami rush hour traffic this morning, it dawned on me that the same key to getting through rush hour traffic is the same key that will help you develop a healthy lifestyle. I'm writing this on February 4th and it was sunny and 75 this morning as I went to my conference with the car windows rolled down. If you aren't jealous yet, then you live in a place like Miami.
The traffic routinely came to a stop and although there were punctuated periods where things went smoothly and quickly, the majority of the time, I was in stop and go traffic. This is much akin to a typical fitness routine. There will be some days that are easy but for the average person, it can be mundane and at times, it can be a struggle.
That's why fitness manufacturers for years have tried to entertain you while you workout. Put simply for most people, it doesn't work! If it were stop and go traffic to get to your job each morning you would easily endure it but when it comes to the most important thing in the world to you…your health, you take the first stop in traffic as an indication that it is time to quit. The school mom in me is telling you to stop it! Just because there are some rough patches, the only way you are going to get to a healthy place in your life is by keeping at it!
Recently I wanted to start doing more cardio. I didn't start by attempting to do a marathon but rather I started slowly by doing shorter workouts but building them gradually and not missing a day. Consistency is much more important than volume. If you can develop a healthy habit and do it for weeks and weeks with great consistency, you can easily build upon that foundation to improve your duration.
So, if your idea of a workout is getting a bag of chips from the pantry and the dip from the fridge, start with something simple like 5 minutes of brisk walking and do it every day. You will be amazed how easy it is to accomplish. Once you have the habit, start adding time. For the person who has had the activity level of a rock for the past 20 years, anything you do with consistency is better than what you have been doing. For this person, the idea of running an hour and a half a day sounds like a death sentence. On the other hand, walking for 5 minutes sounds easy.
Just like people who want to be powerlifters don't start by dead lifting 1,000 pounds, you shouldn't start with a huge goal that is clearly unattainable. Start with the simple and if you want to eventually run a marathon, start with 5 minutes of walking. You have to set the bar so low that you feel extremely guilty if you don't do it. This is the reason we installed a workout room at our main office. I had equipment at home and had gym memberships but I found that when I walk by the workout room each day on my way to my office, I feel guilty if I don't get a workout in.
It doesn't take building a workout room but start with the smallest step and then build upon your success to reach a healthier tomorrow.