by Keith Allison
Caption: Stacy Lewis (pictured) is a great example of a female athlete, who also maintains her fitness levels
Find Your Fitness Through Love of the Game
You hear a lot these days about the dangers of yo-yo dieting – but what about yo-yo exercise regimes? How many times have you decided you’re going to get yourself really fit (usually at the same time as going on a new diet) and you’ve set off at this like a bull at a gate? We’ve all been there; from being relatively sedentary, perhaps, suddenly you’re togged out and running round the block or swimming up and down your local pool every chance you get. Perhaps you’ve decided to go cycling regularly or, most commonly of all, you’re hitting the gym – running on a treadmill and pushing the weights and taking a few workout classes.
This is all very good – but if you’ve ever started this kind of regimen (and particularly if you’ve done so more than once) but not managed to keep it up – then there’s clearly a bit of a problem.
So what makes you think you’re going to be able to keep it up this time around?
Now all the forms of exercise we’ve mentioned so far have one thing in common; there’s no particular “point” to them in that they’re exercise for exercise’s sake. And this may be no bad thing if you love participating in them. But if you’ve started a regimen like this once or more before and not managed to stick at – then you probably need to change the way you approach it. And one way of doing this is to find joy or utility or sheer fun in what you do.
Remember as a child when you loved playing games? You weren’t doing it because you wanted to get fit – you did it because you loved playing the game. You may not even have differentiated, as a child, between playing a game of football or cricket or tennis on a beach – and playing a board game indoors. The point is that you saw it as an enjoyable game. That’s the magic you need to try and rediscover because then, keeping it won’t be a chore – it will be something you’re able to do for the love of doing it. In other words, the exercise benefits become purely incidental to your enjoyment of what you’re doing.
This may be something as simple as playing golf, for example. Lots of ladies in middle age who’ve slipped into relatively sedentary lifestyles start off with golf on the road back to fitness. This is because it’s a fun game to play, as strenuous as you want to make it – and yet you walk miles pulling a bag around. It’s surprising how this increases your fitness if it’s been years since you did much.
Getting interested in golf or any other sport you choose, can help. Next time there’s a major golf tournament on TV, for example, have a small punt on the golfer you like the best with an exchange like Betfair and if they start to do well, you can lay it back and lock in a profit. This can be a fun way of getting your interest going and you’ll be surprised at just how much you may start to feel like having a game yourself; that’s the way it works. You will also soon learn who the elite players are, which can be key should you wish to model you’re playing style on, or even if you want to copy their personal fitness regimes.
Of course, if you’re younger and fitter, you may want to pick a far more energetic sport – but the same principles apply. Getting into the sport first by watching it really makes you want to play it – and imitation of professionals is one of the strongest techniques there is in getting good at something quickly.
The other thing to remember, which is absolutely crucial, is to simply put yourself in the moment. So make a commitment, for example, to play badminton, squash, tennis or whatever with friends. Making that commitment then turning up at the appointed date and time is half the battle. When we involve others in our arrangements, it makes procrastination much harder to do.
Similarly, if you’ve decided to go for a swim / run / cycle ride / gym etc., but you don’t feel like it on a cold winter’s night, just go to the place anyway and tell yourself you only need to do a very small amount. You’ll be surprised, again, how often you just end up doing what you usually do anyway. And if you don’t it doesn’t matter – you still turned up.
Alternatively, build exercise into things you need to do anyway; so walk or cycle to the shops or to work etc., for example, if you can.
Better still; find something you just love doing for its own sake, which is also slightly physically demanding. When we’re children, we love to play – and when we’re adults, most of us still like to play, but we repress these urges a bit. Don’t do this. Instead, try to find that kid inside of you that loves the game, or to dance to music – or whatever else.
In this way, you’ll find your fitness while you’re having fun. And far from it being a chore that you grit your teeth to maintain – wild horses won’t be able to drag you away from the disco, dance class, tennis court, golf course, squash court hockey pitch, football ground, five a side pitch or whatever else you’ve found. Fitness should always be fun.