The Long Game

The Parent Athlete by Ben Murphy

Research shows that “Getting Back in Shape” is one of the highest ranked New Year’s Resolutions every year. According to Time Magazine, it’s also the #1 broken New Year’s Resolution. It’s no wonder. Just trying to juggle work and family life is a challenge most of the time, let alone a social life or finding consistent time to exercise.

So, now that we’re well into the New Year, and normal everyday life may have gotten the better of your best laid resolution plans, allow me to pass along some good advice that was given to me three years ago when I started my own fitness journey. You ready? Here’s the secret: “getting back in shape” is a long game. It does not happen overnight.

We’ve been conditioned by weight-loss commercials and television shows to see people dropping 5, 10, 20+ pounds every week. This leaves us to believe that if we go to the gym for a month and eat right, then we’ll have an instant weight loss success story. The reality is, losing weight is hard. It means breaking some bad habits that we enjoy (like junk food). Unless you are a reality show contestant who can train for 12 hours a day, the “overnight success” view of fitness isn’t practical.

What is practical is to understand that we can lose weight the same way we put it on in the first place – little by little. It’s a little more exercise here, a little more there, until it becomes a habit coupled with better eating choices. No, it’s not easy. But, this is a case where having a long-term, little-by-little perspective of fitness makes it a lot more manageable. It’s surprising how quickly small lifestyle changes do add up.

Here are two quick takeaways to carry with you in 2013 as you’re trying to make healthier, more active choices:

MAKE TIME: So many people think that they will get in shape when they have a little more time. Guess what? There is no more time. All of us have the same allotment of 24 hours each day. You will never, ever “find” time to exercise. You have to make time. And, once you make the time, tell your family and friends. Get accountable for it. Here’s the easiest way to make more time: watch less TV. I know it’s hard to believe, but your world will not implode if you watch three, instead of four, sitcoms each night. There, I’ve just found 30 extra minutes a day for you.

DO WHAT YOU ENJOY: Lots of folks I know have gotten into running as their favorite form of exercise. Personally, I happen to love trails and running, so trail running has become a passion of mine. But it’s not for everyone. Maybe for you it‘s yoga? Or rowing? Here’s the thing: if you’re going to make time in your busy life to exercise then it’d better be something you’re going to look forward to doing. Otherwise, it’s not going to become habit. So, whether it’s tennis, aerobics, weight lifting, or horseback riding, find what you love and make it yours!

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