Folks say this to me all the time.... "I was going to come, I've just got no willpower"... "I started the week off eating well, but by the time I got to Wednesday, I just had no willpower left". Every single person in the history of the world has A TON OF WILLPOWER. You have the willpower to get up every day and go to work, even when you are exhausted and the kids were up all night. You have the willpower to talk to your next door neighbour for 20 minutes about the effectiveness of her washing machine, even though you'd rather cut your own ears off and feed them to the dog. You have the willpower to drive the kids to every single after-school and Saturday morning sports club they want to do even though you DEFINITELY would prefer to be on the sofa wrapped in a blanket catching up on Holby City. You have the willpower to smile through the 4 hour boardroom meeting at work even though you want to headbutt your Team Leader in the face for ever single moment of it.
It isn't willpower that stops us from being able to achieve our goals. It's the recognition of value. It's the value that we place on the activity in question, it's how much value we think it can bring to us, it's how much work it will take to reach a point where we feel that value.... and most importantly, it's how much we value ourselves.
Here are 5 of the reasons why we think we have no willpower to be fitter and healthier... and how we can overcome them:
1. You see it as a chore, and not something you are doing for your own wellbeing
This is a major one... over the years we can get into a rut of thinking that exercise is something that we hate and that we don't want to do. But the thing we can often overlook is that there is a type of exercise to suit every person.... just because your mate Mary loves Zumba it doesn't mean that you will. Maybe jogging with the dog, rock climbing or swimming is more your bag. And that is just fine. Any kind of exercise will improve your wellbeing as well as your physical and mental health. It is a treat and a luxury to be able to exercise, not everybody can. Exercise is something that you do FOR yourself, not TO yourself.
There are a billion physical benefits to keeping fit, I feel like you already know that if you are reading this article. The thing that we forget is exercise is as beneficial mentally as it is physically. This world is pretty bloody stressful. We only need to open the newspaper to know that. Exercise reduces stress and helps us better cope with it, giving us an outlet for the day's events. It also boosts our feelings of success and achievement which in turn increase our confidence in our ability to do cool shit. And that is pretty darn awesome.
2. You are more worried about making a dick of yourself than you are excited of the benefits the sesh might bring
I wish I could get Nando's points for every time someone says to me that they don't want to look stupid infront of everyone else in an exercise class. Well, I hate to let you know, but your performance in your sesh is not something that is going to make or break anyone else's day. They are too busy trying not to trip over their own feet, drop a weight on a friend or chassee their way into the wall to worry about what you are up to. Yes people go wrong in an exercise class, so does the instructor, often, especially if they have run out of caffeine prior to the class start time. Yep sometimes people feel faint, it comes with the territory especially when folk are rushing to class from work and didn't pack a snack. Occasionally some folk feel a bit sick, namely if they haven't exercised for ages or if they decided to go hell for leather after smashing in a banana 4 minutes before the class start time. Shit happens. Noone judges. In actual fact, it can be quite bonding to be 'human' for a few moments. Noone is perfect and EVERYONE can relate to what you are going through, they have been there themselves, many times. Get over yourself. Simples.
3. One class feels like throwing a pebble off the Titanic
You're so unfit that you get out of breath walking up the stairs. You know as well as I do that it's going to take more than a couple of classes to get you feeling like an Olympic athlete. The feeling when you look at what could be a huge project, can be utterly and completely overwhelming. But it is just that, a project. You have to do them for work, you started a project that will last a lifetime when you chose to have kids, you did one when you learnt to ride a bike, to drive a car, when you went you did your GCSE's, your A-Levels, your degree or when you organised your wedding. We forget as adults how absolutely proficient we are at smashing up our long term plans. Being fit or fit-ish is no different.
Any project is broken down into individual tasks. That's how we move forward. Getting fit is exactly the same. First things first, all you have to do is commit to exercising on a regular basis. And do it. Everything else will fall in to place along the way. You'll find workouts you enjoy more than other's, you'll find knowledgable folk who can answer your questions and help you find more efficient/practical ways to workout, you'll find more time to fit in training so you can reach your goals quicker. But first, you have to start.
4. You have a lot on and you're stressed.... and you don't truly see how an exercise class will help you manage your own stress levels
Y'all be stressed af I know! However, unless some real life shizzle is going down, you don't have any more stress than the person to the left or to the right of you. You just don't know how to deal with it. Every single person, in every single workout sesh or class around the world, has stress. The difference is, they have acknowledged that working out (in whatever form) helps them to better cope with their own lives.
Sometimes we put ourselves on an inverse pedestal... like no-one else has ever experienced working long hours, being underpaid, breaking up with their boy/girlfriend, moving house or raising kids. Life IS tough. And yep it is tougher for some than others, and that sucks. But for the rest of us, we're just here, managing general life stress and we can DEFINITELY benefit from the stress relief of a workout or two a week. And no, before you say it, it doesn't take that much time to fit it in. Unless you are working 3 jobs and raising kids as a single parent, you definitely have time to go for a 30 minute walk or jog a couple of times a week. Real talk.
I'm not for one minute saying we don't all have the right to feel over-whelmed and like we want to lock ourselves in the airing cupboard for the weekend, you do what you've got to do to get by. BUT learning how to manage our stress (which generally isn't going anywhere btw) then we stand to live life a lot happier, and a lot healthier, being able to separate normal day to day stress from real, life-changing events that we will need a ton of support to get through.
5. You don't believe in yourself
THIS is generally what it all comes down to. And it breaks my heart. YOU are capable of doing anything that you put your mind to (within reason obv - you're probably not going to break any 100m world records at the ripe old age of 44, but you catch my drift). We place limits on ourselves based on what we have already experienced and how we 'rate' ourselves compared to the person next to us. We say things like 'oooo I could never do that' or 'ooooo I don't know how you do it'. But in actual fact, we can smash exactly the same shit up with the same amount of effort as the human next to us. We just need to trust ourselves.
Us managing to be fit or healthy has NOTHING to do with how fit or healthy the person next to us is. It is not a competition. It is self-development, self-love and self-confidence. We don't NEED to be an olympic athlete to shimmy our way around a dance floor a couple of times a week. We don't need to be able to deadlift our bodyweight to do resistance training. We don't need to be able to beat our childhood PB for the Cross Country run to be able to be fit, healthy and happy with it. We do not need to be whatever our Instagram ideal of 'fit' is, it's just amazing for ourselves, our health, our quality of life and the example we set to those around us, if we can be fit-ish. That's some pretty awesome achievement right there.
Personal Trainer, Group Ex Geek and general lover of everything fitness!
Master Trainer, Choreographer and Presenter for Clubbercise
Creator of Always Moving Forward Instructor Site