“Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work.” – Steven Pressfield
Don’t feel like going to the gym today? Got some resistance towards fitness?
We’ve all been there; even those among us who identify as gym-junkies and fitness fanatics have periods when getting to the gym is the absolute last thing we want to do. Sometimes that feeling is a message: It could be time to rest, recover, or reduce the intensity with which we exercise. But other times it’s just resistance.
In this case, your “work” is your fitness. It’s a necessary act of self-care, and the nature of moving is to honor your body’s need to do so. If we care for our bodies, we find that all obstacles in life become more surmountable.
Sometimes the resistance that stands between us and our fitness is thick and relentless.
Resistance can be overcome; what follows are simple strategies to assist you in doing so.
(I wrote about my personal tactics in a previous post. What follows is typically how I advise my clients towards getting over their own resistance.)
The oldest tool in the anti-resistance toolbox is also one of the most effective: Ask other people to hold you accountable. This can be done by signing up for a class that you’re expected to attend, having a gym partner, or just asking a loved one to hold you to your intentions. We can even look to devices and online communities for accountability.
If you say you’re going to do something and other people are counting on you to do it, you’re more likely to actually do it. It’s not necessarily a long term strategy, but it works in a pinch and is fantastic way to get started.
PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE
When resistance arises, it makes sense to take the path that involves as little of it as possible. In other words, when resistance is increasing internally, do your best to limit external resistance.
If evening exercise is the aim, keep your gym bag in the car so that instead of going home after work, you go straight to the gym.
If early morning exercise is the aim, lay them out the night before right next to your bed.
Find a gym that’s close enough to your home or place of work so getting there isn’t inconvenient. Consider keeping some fitness equipment at home, such as kettlebells, ropes, or bands.
If you can create a situation that involves fewer external obstacles, you’ll increase your likelihood of overcoming resistance.
MINIMUM EFFECTIVE DOSE
Part of what keeps so many of us from committing to a consistent fitness routine is the misunderstanding of what that has to entail. If, like me, you were bred to believe that workouts need to be long and comprehensive in order to be effective, allow me to disprove that myth.
While it’s nice to be able to commit to an 1+ hour long training session when time allows, this isn’t always possible. Further, we fall into the trap of thinking that if we can’t do said training session, we might as well not do it all.
Minimum effective dose is the smallest or shortest amount of something you can do while still eliciting a positive response. So rather than commit to hour long workouts, consider 30 minutes or even less. If all you’ve got is 10 minutes, use those 10 minutes to move – because it counts.
And here’s why: when it comes to fitness (and just about any other positive habit), consistency is more important than perfection. If perfection is the goal, we’ll rarely-if ever-reach it. By setting ourselves up to only go to the gym if we have plenty of time, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. What happens when we’re slammed with a project? Up all night with an infant or a sick family member? Traveling?
If we set out to move consistently, regardless of the length of the workouts, we’ll be more likely to create a sustainable, long term habit. A brisk walk or just 15 minutes of yoga can be highly effective when consistency is the intention, because the more consistently you move, the more movement becomes your norm.
REFRAME YOUR REASONS
A mountain of resistance can be from a loss of perspective
It’s important to link fitness to some of your highest values.
(Some reasons to workout, if family is one of your highest values, is that you’d be a positive role model to your kids, you’d be more resilient to sickness and you’d have more energy to play with them.)
Take out a pen and paper and write down what’s important in your life. Then start writing about how improving your health would benefit all those things that are important.