“Ok, I’ve made the decision to start a walking program today, so why can’t I get myself to put on those sneakers and head out that door?” Sound familiar? You know that your health and your appearance demands it, but all these wonderful dreams and aspirations cannot seem to overcome that powerful drive for lethargy. Here’s a deeper look at the problem, and a couple suggestions for eliminating it.
Whenever we start a new program there is a predictable cycle of reluctance we encounter that I like to call the “Laziness Index.” In the very beginning, when we are suppose to take that first step the index is at its highest, and it can be really difficult to get ourselves moving. If we can somehow manage to bust through via some exertion of “iron will” or otherwise, we find that the situation brightens substantially, and we realize it is actually no big deal at all. The index drops sharply. With this drop you might begin to feel a sense of joy and confidence rising with your progress, and this is something you definitely want to nurture and encourage.
About three quarters of the way through your workout or other program a bad thing happens. You start to feel the index creeping back up. You begin to hear voices in your head saying harmful things like this: “Ok, that’s enough. I’ve done quite a bit already, there’s no need to push all the way to the end” “I don’t have to do it all at once, I can push myself next time.” “At least I got a good start.” Of course these rationalizations ignore the fact that you determined to do a full mile today, that that was the target, and would ensure your progress, but this knowledge blew out of your head like the leaves across your path. Your Laziness index is unleashing its full mental attack.
Heres a few tips for overcoming it. First, when we are scheduled to go and we encounter that first powerful resistance, its often because we blow the thing way out of proportion. You are not stepping into the ring with Mike Tyson, you are only going to walk a couple miles. See it for what it is. Just shrug it off and get started. Second, be sure that you have your walking sneakers or other work out gear sitting by the door ready. Have the stage already set. Third, realize that the start is the hardest part. Once you put those shoes on and step out it will be very quick and painless. As you can see by all this, we are trying to overcome a natural tendency to blur logic and reality to make things what they aren’t, and we must think clearly and deliberately to overcome it.
Finally, remember that once you have been performing a new project for a few short weeks it becomes a habit, and all the negative impulses become weaker (they don’t disappear however). You also develop the habit of controlling yourself, another great but overlooked benefit of an exercise program. So go get em tiger!