After truly being “at it” regularly for more than a full year, I can say, without a doubt, that fitness is truly a lonely endeavor. As in, “it kind of hurts” lonely. You are in it by yourself, with yourself, and for yourself. If you’re the type who can’t do anything without a friend, you’ll have to get over it because with a regular committed exercise program, you’ll be alone a lot. Of course, when entering into the “fitness ring” so to speak, there will be group outings, classes, and some fun stuff along the way. Power walks with close friends where the time flies by because it’s more of an outright gab session (complete with belly laughs and bitching about life) is fun, social and great for the soul. And it works…but not always. There are always times when the person you are scheduled to exercise with drops out or can’t make it.
If you’re going to become dedicated to improving your health through a fitness plan, you have to pretty much plan on doing it alone. You have to think about it alone, you have to get motivated alone and you’ll have to schedule it so that it can be done how? ALONE. And this kind of sucks. People cancel, or quit their club memberships…people back out of plans and you have to be ready to do it anyway. You just do.
Here are my rules for sticking with it – ALONE.
- Fitness is doing what you say you’re going to do. Simple as that. If you say you are going to walk at 3 PM on Tuesday, then just do it. Walk at 3 PM on Tuesday. Do it whether you have a friend to walk with or not. If you schedule it, keep your schedule. When someone backs out of a plan it’s very easy to allow yourself to back out too. It’s easy to remember all the stuff you have to do, like stop at the store, or go to the bank. Don’t. Of course you can still be flexible when you need to be, but for the most part, stick to your schedule. It’s the only way to check it off your list
- Speaking of lists…make them. Make them again and again. People sometimes laugh at my pin-point scheduling and lists, but guess what? I get shit done, and I workout 5 or 6 times a week without making excuses or finding other things to do. Okay? No excuses, no regrets.
- Invest in music…and create playlists. Create ridiculously awesome playlists. Get some good ear buds too. I have the ones that completely wrap around my ears because I’m a nerd. You have to have SOMETHING when you’re exercising alone. I go from Bono singing about the fact that ALL HE WANTS IS ME, straight to being hypnotized by the Notorious B.I.G. Then it’s off to an Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z, which leads directly into the Beastie Boys asking “What’chu Want?” incessantly. This is a good one for hills because I like to yell profanities back at them. I find myself needing to stop, collaborate and listen to Vanilla Ice before my brain hangs upside down with The Ramones. And I can dance if I want to, or I can leave my friends behind. My playlists are killer, and they keep me MOVING, man.
- It works to plan exercise around kid events. 9 times out of 10 you need to drop off your kid WAY earlier for games and other activities than when the event actually starts. Plan your power walk or run for when your kids are warming up. It’s truly win-win. Walk the perimeter of the soccer field. You can still catch every damn second of little Bobby’s epic bicycle kick AND cross exercise off your schedule. I wish I did more of this when my kids were young. It’s absolutely feasible and easy to put yourself into their activity equation.
- Discover yoga and surrender to it. Yoga truly changes you one pose, one session, and one moment at a time.
- When you walk alone, carry a stick or some mace or something to defend yourself with in case you come across an unfriendly animal, or human. DO NOT RELY ON YOUR EXPERT NINJA SKILLS OR YOUR WHEELHOUSE KICKS.
- Don’t get all fancy with expensive distance/counters and timers, etc. Apps like Endomodo, (which is free) work beautifully to show distance, pace and estimated calorie burn. Plus it keeps a little history and tracks almost every activity under the sun.
- Enter a few 5K races if you can. Get them on your calendar. You can usually WALK them if you don’t feel like running. Most are for charity. Feel good, do good, look good, repeat. Races work to motivate.
- Keep an exercise log. Buy a cheap little notebook and write down what you do or will do for exercise every day. It adds up. I do ten pages and then I treat myself to something awesome like a curly pile of frozen yogurt with way more rainbow sprinkles than necessary. Honestly, it’s an eye-rolling amount of sprinkles. Almost every day I get up and the first thing I do is figure out when I’m going to exercise. I look at my entire day and decide before I even get into the shower how it’s all going to go down. Tedious, and somewhat annoying too – this whole business of “going it alone” and “doing what you say you’re going to do” but in the end, alone or with a friend, it’s indeed worth it.
- Schedule at least one or two rest days during the week. You are sticking to the rules and you deserve to rest.
I know I’ve mentioned it before…and maybe you’re a tad bit tired of reading this same old message from me – but I’ll say it again because I’m kind of a jerk. I’m truly in a different place. I’m in a different place for a reason. Life changing weight loss and a commitment to fitness is a BEAR of a mountain to climb. I promise you, though, that if you make the decision to invest in yourself, you’ll be duly rewarded. Once you reach the summit, there’s no better view…even if you are sucking wind all by yourself.