After landing in Panama I started working-out again. It had been months. I’d let travel become an excuse for having no time to exercise. And I started to believe my own propaganda for the most part. A day or two prior to boarding my flight a company called Freeletics® found its way onto my laptop screen. Who knows why, but I subscribed. And found somewhere the motivation to wake up early and follow their weekly aerobic/bodyweight workout plans. It’s only been three weeks so far, but I plan on sticking with it.
These past three weeks have gone by fast. Much faster than the first three weeks of any other workout program I’ve ever followed. And I believe that I know the reasons why.
Here they are.
I haven’t had a mirror
I’ve been bathing in a river pool and showering under a waterfall for the past three weeks. The house we’ve been constructing is a mess of dust and tools. And the bathroom is nothing more than chipped-up concrete and a paint splattered toilet. In neither my room, nor the bathroom, is there a mirror – and unlike in a gym, there are no mirrored walls in the jungle…
What is the worst thing you can do when running on a treadmill? The answer is: watch the clock. Every tick of the seconds hand is a devastating reminder that you still have so much time left. Time until you’ve achieved something that you want.
In contrast, what is the best thing you can do when running on a treadmill? The answer is: ignore the clock. Refuse to look at it. Put in your headphones and make a strict rule that you’re only allowed to check the clock once every four or five songs. The reason this helps is because it distracts you. It allows you to forget about one of the greatest obstacles to achieving anything, time – and instead just run. When you do look at the clock five songs later, you wonder how all those seconds flew by unnoticed.
Analyzing yourself in the mirror after every workout…or rep…is no different than watching the seconds hand on the clock. You don’t see how far you’ve come, but instead how far you have to go. And just like when watching the seconds tick on a treadmill, we quickly become overwhelmed and feel as though we will never get there.
This has nothing to do with “loving who you are as you are” or “it doesn’t matter how you look but how you feel”. It is simply that many of us don’t struggle with working out, but working out consistently. And what could be more demotivating than visually scrutinizing yourself after every exercise to see that you’ve gotten no where?
Not having a mirror has forced me to judge my workouts not by how I look, but by how I feel. I feel sore. And that feels like progress. While passing by a mirror in a hardware store the other day I could easily see that I had toned up. It felt great.
Much like I ignore the clock on the treadmill for four or five songs, I was forced to ignore the mirror for a few weeks. Making the time feel as though it flew by, and my first look in the mirror actually a motivating experience.
I didn’t start on a Monday
My job isn’t a 9 to 5. It really doesn’t matter if it’s a Friday or Monday. As long as I am being productive and engaged I can schedule my week to my liking. However I have had more traditional jobs. And spent many years in school. So just like to the rest of world, the word “Monday” is a buzzkill.
By chance I started my Freeletics® workouts on a Thursday. And now my workout week begins on Thursdays. How is this helpful? Because no one likes Mondays. The only thing that most people want to do on a Monday is nothing. So it’s not unlike us to avoid doing anything we don’t absolutely have to do on that day.
If your weekly workout plan starts on a Monday, it is most likely the first thing you will avoid doing. And if you don’t start out your workout week strong, you’re more likely to give up on the rest of it. But if you move it to later in the week, suddenly the way you feel about it changes. Instead of a dreary Monday where you have to get ready for another week of work and workouts, Mondays are when you’re halfway through your weekly workout plan and just getting ready for work. And Thursdays are when you’re almost done with work and just starting your weekly workout plan.
When people say “it’s all about attitude” they are using the wrong wordage. What they mean is “it’s all about state-of-mind”. Changing our state-of-mind affects how we feel about things – making them seem more or less achievable, important, meaningful, ect… Learning how to control your state-of-mind is an ultimate form of self control. And just like waking up early helps you feel, and therefore be, more productive, avoiding the mirror for a week or two at a time, and avoiding the monday schedule, can help change your state-of-mind when it comes to working out. And effectively make it all feel much less overwhelming.
*These pictures have nothing to do with the post… I took them this morning after my work out!