When it comes to beginning a fitness routine, it can feel like a huge undertaking. You’re ambitious those first few weeks. Initially we often set goals that are driven by enthusiasm, and inevitably we miss a day, then two, maybe a week…you know how it goes. New feelings set in: demoralised, embarrassed, and failure.
We can be really hard on ourselves, where we tend to be more forgiving of others.
Imagine your friend, Kara. Kara wants to make a lifestyle change. Kara’s first two weeks go well but then she must deal with a family emergency. She only has time to do one of her workouts and, the following week, she doesn’t do any.
She explains that things came up and she doesn’t have time anymore. Seeing the reminders of “You missed a workout, time to reschedule”, and the empty check marks at the end of the week makes her feel like a failure. She’d rather just avoid it altogether.
Are you disappointed in Kara? Do you think she’s a failure? No. She’s human with life circumstances. Things can get complicated. That’s understandable and it happens to each and every one of us. As the caring and supportive friend you are, you tell Kara this, and that “it’s ok she missed workouts.” A week or two, or even 6, is nothing compared to the rest of ones life.
Possible suggestions? Change her commitment. If 30 minutes is too long, change it to 20 minutes, or even 10. You remind her that what’s important is “setting the habit”. At certain points resetting smaller attainable goals, sets one on the path to on-going lifelong success. Maybe some days she overshoots and gets to 30 minutes – Bonus! But on the days where she does only have time for 10 minutes, she “gets ‘er done.” Goal met! Empowered by that feeling of accomplishment.
You can be that understanding and supportive of Kara, right? Why not of yourself?? Your support team is important, but they can’t replace the support and compassion that comes from you, for you.
Missing workouts is nothing to be scared of, feel bad about, or a reason to quit. Rather it is a learning experience. You learn of unexpected scheduling challenges that knock you off stride. You Reschedule! You consider a strategy, so “that will not happen again.” If you’re not meeting your commitment, consider re-evaluating your commitment. Maybe it’s too big. Maybe there are things going on in your life that prevents you from working out. That’s ok. It’s ok to take time to address those things, knowing that you’ll come back to exercising once you’re ready again. Take time for yourself. Set an expected date to get back to it. Be compassionate and kind to yourself. Even if there’s nothing going on in your life, sometimes we just need to take some time for self-care and do something that makes us happy. Allow yourself to feel good about that, and enjoy taking care of yourself. If you do that today, perhaps tomorrow taking care of yourself will be making time to exercise.
Let go of the idea of failure. It has no place here. There is no deadline, no competition, and no judgement. You are succeeding, and succeeding at the pace and in the way that is right for you. That will be different for different people, and it will even change for you, as you progress. Some days and weeks you will feel more successful than others, but all of them are successful. You’re creating a habit, and that takes time, but most important is it takes you being supportive of yourself.
Support yourself. In the meantime, that’s what we’re here for – as an unconditional voice of support as you make changes for better health.