The physics is easy — eat less food and exercise more and you must lose weight. The hard bit is getting off the couch. Thinking about exercising just doesn’t work. Tom O’Herlihy, Leisure Club Manager, Clonakilty Park Leisure Centre advises on how to get started.
The motivation is where the mental games begin. You know you should put the Pringles down and go for a run. If you don’t have runners, go for a brisk walk instead. If you don’t have the time, then try running up the stairs 20 times. If you live in a bungalow, then do 20 press-ups and 20 sit-ups. Can’t do press-ups properly — bad press ups are better than no press-ups, and you can still do the sit-ups. Ask yourself “What can I do?” I can do lunges but I don’t like them. Do you like being fat?
The point is, generally, we all know what to do. We all know that we need to eat less and exercise more — but we want to stay on the couch and eat Pringles — it’s more enjoyable!
We all use mental tricks or games to make us do the unpleasant things so we can have the reward of the pleasant thing afterwards. One trick for motivating yourself is to concentrate on the bad bit. I want to watch ‘Love Hate’ and eat Hobnobs on the couch, but I really, really don’t want to look stuffed into that Wedding/Bridesmaid’s/Mother-of-the-Bride dress. When we go on holidays or to the beach I don’t want to look ridiculous in shorts coming down a waterslide or learning to surf.
Our job in the Leisure Centre is to take away as many of your excuses as we can. We put TVs on the machines so you can’t use important matches and favourite TV shows to stop yourself exercising. We are open every day but Christmas day so you can’t stop yourself by saying it’s too wet to run and the gym is not open today. We are open from 7am to 10pm so you can’t use your work patterns or shifts to stop yourself. We have a crèche, jungle gym and teen room so you can’t use your children to stop you. We have a restaurant, coffee shop so you can’t use your lunch or meeting friends to stop you. We have a full range of machines and activities so you can’t use that to stop you. We have professional qualified staff with a range of ages and experiences from sports and non-sports backgrounds, so you can’t use that to stop you.
What we can’t do…is get you off the couch. That’s where you need the motivation.
What is it for you? Not being able to take your shirt off at the BBQ because six-pack Sam or Samantha is there? Not being able to enter the parents’ race at the school sports?
Not being able to walk along the beach in your swimsuit? Not being able to carry the shopping to the top floor of the car park? Not able to play on the floor with the kids?
These may be the things you need to concentrate on when the couch is calling. And you keep concentrating on them until you get to the leisure centre. And you can keep concentrating on them because they will continue to be the problem until you do something about them. The important word in the last sentence is DO. Even a great exercise plan is useless compared to a walk on the beach.
So do make a plan…that gets rid of most of the excuses. But if you plan to go for a walk on Thursday and Thursday turns out to be teeming with rain, refer to your motivation. Picture yourself looking ridiculous in shorts and then think OK what will I do instead that’s the same or more work? Go to the gym? Do a class?
Think about it — nothing changes unless we change something.