Do you leave getting into shape until the last minute or when it’s too late? Here’s why

There seems to be two types of people in this world, those who are ultra organised and appear to have everything under control, and well, those who don’t. We see examples of this in everyday life; the person in the office who has completed all their work way before a deadline, and the other guy who has to stay up until 3am because they left it to the last minute. Or maybe it’s the military style planner, who has already bought and wrapped all their Christmas presents by mid November, compared to the individual who is running around like a madman on Christmas Eve.

Fitness is no different to these examples. There are those who notice that they’ve gained a little weight, and instantly do something about it, or have already started getting into shape for a wedding or holiday that’s months away.

Now, if you’re not that person, it may be cold comfort to know that you’re not alone. Countless people have approached me asking if they can drop a few stone in 2 weeks; or gain a ripped 6-pack in under a month because they’re off to Ibiza. Others will say that they’d gained a little weight after the Christmas holidays, or a pregnancy, and now a few months down the line not only have they not lost any weight, they’ve actually gained weight; in some cases a lot of weight. Their confidence is low and they don’t know how things got to this point. Panic mode has set in.

 

There’s no need to worry if you’ve found yourself at the panic stage. Maybe you caught a glimpse of yourself in an unflattering light after seeing an old photo of yourself looking happy, fit and healthy which made you think, “How did I end up like this?” This is a result of nothing more than plain and simple procrastination.

 

We are all guilty of procrastination in some form or another. The ultra organised office worker mentioned earlier may have been trying to give up smoking, but instead of cutting back from 10 a day, he’s found himself smoking 15, and upwards of 20 on a bad day. The present buying machine at Christmas time may find cooking Christmas dinner a nightmare, the potatoes are burnt to a crisp and they’re secretly hoping that the guests like their turkey medium rare. And our gym friend is exactly the same. Yes they may be in awesome shape and incredibly fit, but they’re in their overdraft yet again because they struggle to manage their finances, and procrastinate in organising them.

Every person on this earth has things that they do better than others. It’s a fact of life. We often compare ourselves to others, and social media gives us a glimpse into the lives of those around us. But like the saying in gambling goes: “people always talk about how much money they’ve won, and never how much they’ve lost”.

That super fit person who posts a picture on Facebook or Instagram of their impressive physique is never going to post a picture of their negative bank balance. This is a fact of life. A recent TED Talk about procrastination I watched mentioned how the speaker had worked with everyone from those out of work, to CEOs of large organisations, and found that they all excelled in some areas, and procrastinated in others.

 

Now that we know all people procrastinate, why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we put things off until it’s too late to do something about it? When that horrible feeling builds in the pit of our stomach, which we can no longer ignore.

 

The answer lies in instant gratification, logical thinking, and the fight in our brains between the two.

 

When we do something that we’re good at, we enjoy it. Who doesn’t? Do you think that Jimi Hendrix hated playing guitar, Lionel Messi can’t stand scoring goals, or that the New Zealand All Blacks despise being the most successful team in all of sport and so therefore don’t turn up to training sessions? Of course not, why on earth would they?! When we do something that we enjoy, we think rationally and make sensible decisions. Unfortunately, the opposite happens when we are forced to do something that doesn’t come to us naturally, or something that we don’t enjoy. We don’t think rationally, and we procrastinate. This is when we turn to instant gratification.

 

Lets use an example in regards to fitness. We have two people Joe and Jenny. Jenny likes going to the gym and enjoys training. Chances are that her friends are also gym goers and will often attend a spin class with them. She recently received a compliment from a friend and a picture of her on social media was very popular and was full of people saying that they envied her physique. Jenny is just about to head to the gym after work, but is asked if she’d like to join some friends for a meal instead.

Joe on the other hand has put on a bit of weight recently, nothing too bad, but he isn’t as fit as he was. He keeps getting conflicting advice on what he should be doing in the gym. Joe feels less confident in the gym and doesn’t want to be around a load of muscled up meatheads who are in much better shape than him. However he decides to go one evening after work, but overhears that some colleagues are going for a pint.

Now lets break down these two examples. Who is more likely to go to the gym on that day? Of course it’s Jenny. She’s in a positive frame of mind and is thinking rationally. Her inner dialogue might say “a meal sounds fun, however I’ve worked really hard on training so far, and don’t want to get out of my routine, plus I can always catch up with my friends later in the week when I have a rest day from the gym. Plus I’ve been working hard recently, and always feel better and less stressed after a workout”.

Joe is the opposite, his instant gratification mode has set in, and now he’s justifying to himself why he shouldn’t go to the gym or exercise. His inner dialogue would say: “I’ve got no idea what to do at the gym, so what’s the point? Plus I’ve been working really hard recently and could do with some down time. The gym will be too busy anyway so I wouldn’t get anything done even if I did go. And everyone will be in much better shape than me and I don’t want to be the most out of shape person there. I’ll just go to the gym at the weekend instead”.

Now we see fitness procrastination in action. Jenny has got her workout in and feels better for having done so. Joe on the other hand has had a few pints with his friends, and after spending a few hours in the pub, doesn’t have time to cook dinner at home so gets a takeaway instead.

Joe has told himself that he’s going to go to the gym this weekend, but is it likely that he will? Chances are, no, he won’t. He’ll put off and procrastinate again and again. He’ll convince himself that he’s too busy even though a 30-minute workout is more than achievable. His lower back is a bit sore so it’s probably best to rest up, despite the fact that he could ask a trainer at the gym for some advice, or do exercise that wouldn’t impact his lower back. One day he does make it into the gym, but decides that he’s earned a treat, so he tucks into a large BigMac and fries afterwards.

 

The only thing that will get Joe into the gym is when panic mode sets in. His holiday is now only a month away, and he’s more out of shape than ever. All of a sudden his rational thinking mode has kicked in and he’s willing to go to the gym even if he does feel out of shape and isn’t sure what to do. But as he’s in panic mode, he’ll maybe fall victim to some workout plan or fat burning supplement that promises results in no time at all. Of course this is just a marketing gimmick and he won’t get the results he’s been promised.

 

Jenny is feeling great sat on a sun lounger in her bikini, and her confidence is through the roof. Joe is mad at himself and is wondering why couldn’t just have done something about this before it was too late.

 

Fitness procrastination doesn’t need to be something that happens forever. In my time as a PT I’ve seen chain smokers and the morbidly obese fix their procrastination problems and become happier and healthier.

 

As always, ask any questions you like and I’ll be happy to answer them.

 

Rich

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