Medically Reviewed by: Brad Segar, DPT, PT, CSCS McLeod Sports Medicine
Weeks now into the New Year and this is usually the time when the fitness center parking lots start returning to it’s normal volume of cars throughout the day. Exercise plans start feeling the stress of day-to-day responsibilities. The exuberance that was seen January 1st is starting to slowly waiver. Short-term ambitions face the reality of what it takes to change a habit. It is said that 21 days is all it takes for a behavior change. Yet, it truly is easier said than done. For people setting new fitness goals — either just working out or reaching a new level — it is always important to remember it is not necessarily WHAT you are doing, but HOW you do it.
I am always reminded of the line “something will always work for someone.” Whether it is 1) a new workout program from Men’s Fitness, 2) some exercises that a so-called “guru” gave you or 3) a routine you saw on YouTube, something always works for someone. Many times people get caught up in the “what.” What exercise should I do next? What time should I workout today? What program should I do? Then, we get in the gym for our “perfect” workout but our mind continues to think about a million different things. We go through the motions so that we can tell our friends or family we “got our workout in.”
Don’t get me wrong. This type of exercise is still better than no exercise. But the reason most people exercise is to get results. The goals may vibe different: looking better in the mirror, continuing to look good in the mirror, having more energy, feeling better about themselves or improving overall health.
The most frustrating thing in the world of fitness is not seeing results. The quickest way to not get results is mindless, un-spirited exercise. Quality will trump quantity every time. You don’t have to workout for two hours a day, undertake exotic strengthening exercises or run hundreds of miles.
You do have to learn to be mindful of your body and be willing to give effort while challenging yourself. Your workout time is your time. Make your mind focus on you. Feel each step or rep with full concentration. Take the time to learn correct technique or posture for simple movements like running/walking, squatting, or push-ups. That focus will lead to you wanting to challenge yourself with more distance or more resistance — something mindless exercise at half effort can’t even dream about achieving.
Focus on results and you’ll miss the process, but focus on the process and you’ll get results. Effort and mindfulness are harder to consistently maintain. But if you do, everything else will fall into place.