The Hardest Part of Fitness

What is the hardest part of being healthy? Is it the training? The dedication to eating healthy foods? Is it getting enough quality sleep every night?

Depending on what your weakest link is will in part determine what is the hardest for you. If you struggle with cravings maybe healthy eating will be your biggest challenge. If you have injuries and joint pain maybe finding pain-free exercise is the hardest part for you. And with shift work it could be that getting into a fitness routine when you are up at night and sleeping during the day might be the toughest part.

Regardless of what is the hardest part for you there is one thing that is common to everyone. And that is simply getting started.

Inertia can make getting started the hardest.

Inertia can make getting started the hardest.

Overcoming the inertia to go from doing nothing to doing something is harder than Turkish get ups, sled pushes and burpies. It’s harder than eating a kale salad with no dressing. And it’s harder than drinking plain branch chain amino acids. (which taste pretty awful btw)

In other words going from zero to one can be the hardest thing. Think about it. Once you’ve done something once you have that experience to draw upon. You know what to expect. You know how hard it will be. And you know that you’ve survived it in the past and can do it again.

And that makes going from one to two much easier than zero to one.

The longer we put off some action, the harder it can be to take action.

The longer we put off some action, the harder it can be to take action.

If you’re a procrastinator you know how true this is. You can find any reason or excuse to get out of doing whatever you’re supposed to do. And putting it off to the next time. And getting started at some point in the future gets increasingly difficult. It can actually feel impossible.

So why is this?

Well it’s because practice makes permanent. We often hear this expression told in a different way. But we know it’s not true, don’t we? Practice doesn’t make perfect because I would be on the PGA Tour right now if that were the case. I’ve hit tons of balls at the driving range. But just because we repeat an action doesn’t ensure perfection.

But that’s not want we’re talking about right now. Instead we want to understand how habits are formed. Because we are creatures of habit.

And as I mentioned above, getting started can be the hardest part. Going from 0–>1 can be the biggest challenge for many. Every step after this one is easier than the previous. And pretty soon this new habit becomes routine. And it would be more unusual to miss a particular habit than it would be to continue doing so.

Consider how for many people eating lunch tends to happen at noon. Breakfast can vary. And so can dinner. But having lunch at noon is common for many. And when you visit a ski hill or theme park in North America the place clears out from 12-1 pm. We’ve established this habit by repetition and made it permanent.

This works in reverse as well regarding poor choices. When we make a poor choice it gets easier to repeat that poor choice the more times we make it. If you ice cream for dessert one night it gets easier to indulge the second night. Pretty soon it can become a ritual to have ice cream every night. To test out this theory go on a cruise and order ice cream at the end of the meal. It can become automatic to do this every night. That’s what I hear anyways 🙂

So what’s the solution?

For either scenario we need to have a plan. For example, for a first training session we need to make an appointment for this. We need to where it will be, who we will be meeting and how long it will take. We need to consider as well all of the obstacles that may come up. And then have a contingency for each obstacle.

If the power is out and the gym is closed you go for a run.

If your training partner is sick you have others that will be there.

If you don’t have a healthy pre-workout meal you will have some flavoured branch chain amino acids to sip on.

Think of all the excuses reasons you’ve missed training in the past and have a plan for every scenario. And make getting from 0–>1 as easy as possible. Instead of shooting for a 5 km run start with a jog around the block. This could be 1 km. It doesn’t matter. The key is to get started and to get from 0–>1.

Because once you’ve done that the hardest part.

And now the training, the nutrition and the sleep gets a whole lot easier.


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