As I strolled down the foggy Tacoma waterfront with Jim, a long-time personal training client of mine, we began to chat about how important exercise has been to him and how much exercise has transformed his entire life - not just his body and his health, but also his career, relationships, self esteem, attitude and everything else.
You see, before coming to me for help, Jim was 60 pounds over weight, he had dangerously high cholesterol and was having breathing problems that were seriously affecting his quality of life.
Jim recalled to me how he used to sit at his desk at work all morning long, unfocused and unproductive, dreaming of nothing but lunch break, and then all afternoon, thinking of nothing but the 5:00 bell and then a big dinner! He did his job well, but not up to his own standards. He knew he could do better.
He knew he could do better physically too. When we began slowly with a simple walking program, Jim blossomed quickly. His enthusiasm skyrocketed and he went almost over night from a couch potato to an "exercise machine" and as a result, his whole life changed.
That is what I call "Exercise Enhancement." Jim didn't just want a better body, he wanted a better life... and with just a little guidance from me, adding exercise was the single catalyst that sparked a whole-life transformation.
Jim was probably a lot like you. He had the number one excuse for not starting an exercise program… "I don't have time." I told him, "There are lots of people who have s full time job, have to get children to school or practice and still have time to exercise - I'm one of them! You just have to make it a priority, put it on your schedule and make it happen." I continued, "You find time to watch wheel of fortune don't you?" So get on your treadmill (we bought one for him) and walk while you watch!"
As we continued to saunter down the waterfront, it was your typical wet, drizzly, cloudy North-Pacific day, but that day was as bright as ever for Jim. Looking back on all the changes that had happened in his life, we started talking about why more people don't exercise and why everybody who doesn't needs to start today!
Weight loss is number one on most people's lists! You have to do some form of exercise to lose body fat. It's a no brainer. Reduce your calorie intake a little bit in combination with the exercise, and POOF! Say goodbye to body fat.
Fitness is number two on most people's list. Jim mentioned how he was having serious trouble breathing and he knew he had to do something about it. For some people the moment of realization happens when they have to climb several flights of stairs for the first time in months or years, and they find themselves gasping for air when they finally make it to the top.
Remember something. Fitness is not achieved through dieting. Fitness is achieved by exercising and moving your body. Being physically fit extends your life, reduces heart disease and cancer, increases your brain function and the list of benefits could go on for pages!
The idea of doing something you know will make you feel better is a challenge to some. Some seem intimidated by it, while others thrive on the challenge. If you find yourself procrastinating, or if you are intimidated by the whole exercise thing. Remember that success and achievement are like a big boulder. Overcome the inertia and set that thing rolling and very soon it's so hard to stop. Accept the challenge, yourself thrive on getting in better shape by setting goals and achieving them. Trust me, if Jim and dozens of my clients can do it, then so can you.
The psychological improvements that can happen to you by starting even the simplest exercise program are still astonishing to me. I watch my clients lose some weight, and immediately I see their self esteem shoot up and I observe them start to feel good about their bodies for the first time ever. I notice them coming into the gym in tank tops confidently, smiling, when they used to stay covered up in baggy clothing. Soon, they begin to blossom mentally and emotionally. Yes, even spiritually. Exercise is good for the soul!
So I say, lets get to work, shall we? Don't you want to feel better physically as well as emotionally? Imagine putting on any swimsuit you want - even a skimpy one -and going out to a crowded beach or pool and feeling better about your body than you ever have before. Not only can it happen, it will happen, but only if you get moving!
I'm not sure if you've ever felt depressed before. Most of us have, but I'm almost certain that your mood has felt a little "down" at times. Did you know how dramatically your mood can improve after an exercises session? Before the workout you may find your "down" mood causing you to think, 'I don't feel like exercising.' But if you get moving in spite of that, you can feel like a new person afterwards.
As my mentor Paul Chek says, "Exercise should be your drug of choice!" But it's not just the physical benefits - the endorphins and "good mood" chemicals you stirred up - it's also the fact that you took action, and every time you take action, your self esteem rises and so does your mood right along with it. Emotion follows motion. Remember that.
Even better, exercises reduces stress! Who doesn't feel at least a little stressed these days? The exact same thing is true about exercise for reducing stress as it is for changing your mood. So I say again - get moving! Get to work and see how it changes not just the way you look, but the way you feel - and see how fast it happens!
Now you're in tune with how exercise can be a beneficial addition to your lifestyle, so let's get you started with some specific guidelines!
David Grisaffi's Guidelines for "Exercise Enhancement":
" Get out there and do it - right now - even if you don't feel like it. Overcome inertia and get that ball rolling now!
" When you "don't feel like exercising," remind yourself that exercise is what will make you feel better!
" Do not think of exercise as painful ordeal like the dentist, think of it as relaxation and de-stressing time.
" Not sure how to start? Try combining 20 minutes of strength training two or three times per week with three one hour sessions of unstress-full aerobics like walking and you are on your way!
" Set goals and write them down. I make all my clients sign an exercise contract and tell them to post a copy wherever they will see it often and get motivated by it, like in the car, on the refrigerator, on the mirror etc.
There's one last thing I want to share with you and warn you about. I call it, "The Fearless HUMP!" This is the bump in the road that everyone hits at some stage in their journey and most people find difficult to pass. It's when you find a little excuse to waiver from your routine and you turn it into something bigger than it really is. If you're not careful, that's when the "boulder" may start rolling in the opposite direction. What do you do? There's no trick to it - tough it out, be fearless and get over the hump! You must be consistent to make exercise a habit and stick with it!
Get going! Find an environment that nurtures your goals. Find a workout partner near your age, ability and motivational level. If you like to workout on your own, great! Just find whatever special surroundings that will help in your quest for better health. Most important, remember that exercise is a life long journey that will not just improve your health and your body, it will have a ripple effect and enhance every single part of your life… that's the "Exercise enhancement principle!"