Doing the hard things is not usually fun. Like getting out of bed when you’re sleepy. Or going to a job you don’t like much or dieting and not eating your favorite foods to get rid of a few pounds.
Things that are easier are more my cup of tea. Like drinking coffee, eating bacon, or playing with the dog. But if hard things didn’t exist, how would you know things are easy? There’s some food for thought.
Hard things differ from person to person. For me sitting down and writing this is not so hard. But for some writing coherent sentences together is like going to the dentist and getting your teeth drilled. When I say hard things, I’m talking about sacrificing time, money, favorite foods, stepping out of your comfort zone or starting something you’ve never done before.
I’m not talking about hard things like obligations to your family, work, school etc. Although they’re difficult, it’s not the stuff I’ll be talking about here. The hard things I’m referring to is stuff that sucks temporarily that hopefully has a payoff down the road. Things like dieting to lose weight or going to Physical Therapy to recover from an injury.
Temporary pain for long-term gain. Those ‘hard’ things. And of course, exercise is one of those things.
Hardest Part Of The Hard Things
Being a personal trainer I’m in the exercise business and the change business. Clients come to trainers to change for many reasons and not just the obvious. But change is hard, and some cannot do it by themselves.
It’s often said that the pain of staying the same must exceed the pain of change for change to happen. It’s not the only reason but it’s a big one. The hardest part of the hard things is beginning (and sticking with) the change process.
And here is three ways to make the hard things of diet and exercise a little easier.
Change is daunting. You look at you and think about where you want to go and think big changes are needed when starting the change process. But starting small could be just the ticket.
Like an old Chinese proverb states “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” How does this concept work when it comes to diet and exercise? Here’s a few examples.
Want to cut your sugar intake? Switch from regular soda to sugar-free soda.
Need to drink more water? Have a glass of water before every meal.
Need to be more active? Try 10-minute movement breaks like walking, stretching, yoga or housework.
Want to go to the gym three times a week? Get your clothes ready the night before to out the gym in the forefront of your mind the following day,
Each of the above examples are easy to carry out. It’s not that bigger changes are bad or not needed. They often are. But when starting the change process, you need to get some successes under your belt before you go big. And starting small will help.
Finding Your Why
Starting or continuing with an exercise program you do it for the reason to look better, move and feel better. If you had all the time in the world and money and motivation where no object, staying fit and healthy would be easy.
Unfortunately, life is not like that because life is messy, wonderful, and joyful. Sometimes all at the same time. Life doesn’t care if you want to lose 20 pounds or get a 6 pack. Exercise, health, and fitness is already hard, and life’s obstacles will make it even harder.
These obstacles will give you reasons to quit and that’s why it’s important to spend time finding your why, so you don’t quit. Because when you have a deeper reason for exercising or dieting, you’re more likely to keep going.
Spend some time in self-reflection and ask yourself the 5 whys. Here’s an example.
Why do you want to exercise? To lose weight.
Why do you want to lose weight? Because I don’t like the way I look.
Why don’t you like the way you look? Because I’m 35 pounds overweight.
Why is losing 35 pounds important to you? Because I’m pre diabetic, have low energy and I can’t keep up with my kids anymore.
Why is keeping up with your kids important? Because they’re young and I want to be a better parent to them for as long as possible.
Finding your why gives you more of a deeper reason to continue doing the hard things.
Developing Better Habits
A habit is a routine or behavior that’s repeated regularly and tends to occur without you thinking about it. It’s a settled tendency that’s ingrained in your brain. For example, putting on a seatbelt when you get in the car. Personally, I have some less than stellar habits like biting my nails and not listening to my wife when she talks to me.
Guess which one gets me in most trouble?
Both are not good for my health, but I do it because some habits are hard to break. That’s why it’s important to have good habits because once you’ve got them, they’re harder to break. And if those habits are in your ‘hard things’ realm, guess what? They’ve just become easier.
Here Are 5 Ways To Get Better Habits
1. Start small– Most people want to create big change as quickly as possible. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight start with drinking a glass of water before each meal
2. Get hooked on your habit- That’s the point. It takes a little while to make it a habit to stick. Don’t worry if you miss a day. Just don’t miss it twice.
3. Celebrate your small wins- You must enjoy the journey. Even if you walked for an extra 10 minutes or did an extra rep of an exercise, give yourself a pat on the back.
4. Design your environment- Make it easier for the habit to stick, not harder. For example, if you want to go to the gym, pack your bag the night before and make it one of the first things you see when you wake up and get moving
5. Surround yourself with supporters- If you’re trying to lose weight but your partner is still pigging out on ice cream, do you think it makes losing weight easier or more difficult?
Change is hard and starting the change process is often difficult. So, finding ways to make it easier helps. Hopefully these three suggestions will help next time you’re faced with the daunting task of changing.
Because you need to save your energy for the other hard stuff thrown at you. Like getting out of bed when you don’t want to.