Saw this on a list of “top fitness mantras” at Greatist.com recently:
It’s the start that stops most people.
And it instantly jumped to the top of the queue on my all-time list of greatest fitness memes, because, oh, it hit a nerve.
There’s a difference between what we think we’re doing, and what we’re actually doing, especially when it comes to taking care of ourselves. That’s how a Kaiser Permanente study funded by the National Institutes of Health discovered that just by asking people to write down what they were eating – without any particular goal or direction for that exercise – they lost significantly more weight than if they did not write down what they were eating.
The study found that the best predictors of weight loss were how frequently food diaries were kept and how many support sessions the participants attended. Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records.
– From the research study
So, what does this have to do with working out?
This blog came about in part because I finally copped to the fact that I was exercising a whole lot less than I wanted to believe I was. I even put little stickers and notes on a calendar to reward myself for my workouts, but somehow, I didn’t feel all that worried or concerned when a week would go by with one or two workouts listed. Somehow I had convinced myself that I was “athletic” because I’d run some good races back in 2011 after finally conquering a lifelong weight issue and reaching a normal weight for my height and build, which I’ve maintained now for four and a half years.
But something was, ahem, missing. Drive. Consistency. Passion. I came within a hair of notching an official qualifying time for the Boston Marathon – my lifelong athletic dream – and somehow got the spooks. I haven’t run that well since. So, this blog was born: for accountability, for inspiring others, and for trying to figure out if something as simple as an Internet-style meme or mantra – “every 48” – could help me realign the stars and get going. And it has.
As of today, I’ve logged 17 vigorous workouts in February – and the run I take today after finishing this blog post will be number 18. I like stats like that. (I also like the stat about how this blog’s audience has grown in just the first two months of its existence – so great to see so many friends checking it out – and then gettin’ after it!)
What it all comes down to is this:
Remove the obstacles.
Just get them out of the way. Write down what you’re doing. Be accountable. Put your workout clothes out the night before. Or if you’re really a badass, sleep in them so you jump out the door the next morning. I am only slightly kidding here.
Whatever you have to do in order to get in that every48 workout, just do it. Start. Suffer for 15 minutes and your endorphins will start to kick in and you’ll feel like a new person. It takes me just about that much time to get it going, to feel like I want to be out there. And then, there’s nothing better.
Here are a few more resources for that NIH-funded study on weight loss and writing down what you eat. I bet it works for exercise, too. <Grin>
MedlinePlus summary of the findings and recommendations for healthy eating
Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research news item on the study’s findings (they conducted the study)
Yesterday’s #every48 workout: It’s been a bear to get out the door the last couple of days and it didn’t help that yesterday I heard a “no” where I wanted to hear a “yes” for a new work project. Finally dragged myself to the gym for 50 minutes on the bike (5 warmup, 40 at 90-95 RPMs, moderate to “a little more than moderate” effort, 5 cooldown), and added a few minutes of upper-body strength exercises. And yes, I felt much better afterwards (and I still do, more than 12 hours later). Go me.