“Every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”

People often debate which exercise is better for weight loss?  Cardio and aerobic workouts versus weights and resistance training?  Well, they both work but some studies suggest that resistance training and high-intensity aerobic training seem to have the edge.  However, there are some really important principles that are often missed in these debates.

When I was in med school I worked in a gym as a trainer.  I loved it.  I found a trail back then showing that exercising in the morning may be better for weight loss.  I used to tell clients this, but that was bad because it made some people feel guilty they couldn’t exercise in the morning.  My friend and fellow trainer at the gym told me “Sam you are wrong, the best exercise is the one you do and the best time to exercise is the time you do it”.  There is such wisdom in this.  Movement and being active is not regimented nor scripted, it is not about feeling guilty for not doing something or doing it only one way.  Just move!  Move in any way you enjoy, for as long as you want and enjoy the experience of being human.

For example, some people exercise by running or at the gym even if they hate it.  Movement can be this but the focus is on experiencing your body and enjoying it.  Why go to the gym if you don’t like it?  Often we do these things because we think we should like it or peer pressure.  But maybe you like dancing, or drumming, or rock climbing or gardening. Maybe you like working out at home by yourself, or doing yoga, or martial arts… whatever it is that makes you feel more alive – that is what you should do.   Have variety, spice it up.

That brings me to my second principles – it is important to accept that sometimes we need to feel uncomfortable as well.  We need to push ourselves a bit because we are demanding change in our body and hence we need to change in our mind.  We need to push through our own comfort barriers.

The third principles are that often we think things are a lot more effort than they really are.   We are making mountains out of molehills.  For example, when I leave work I am tired and I honestly don’t want to go to the gym even though I know I will feel better if I do.  So all I do is just say to myself, “ok sam, just drive to the gym and if you still don’t want to go, then go home”.  5 minutes later when I am at the gym I have had some time to get over my initial laziness and hesitation and I am thinking more reasonably about it.  I get to the gym and feel like, well that was easy, I will just put my shoes on and if I don’t want to go to the gym after that I will go home. Then I put my shoes on and realise that was easier than I thought, I will go in.  And when I am in there, the momentum is going.

The barrier to going was little more than my imagination, I was forecasting all the effort required and thinking I needed to do it all in one step, but I didn’t – it is just a few small easy steps. So you might be sitting on the couch or after work and there is an illusion that being active is lots of effort but it really isn’t.  Once you start the process the momentum takes care of the rest.   You just have to get off the couch and put your shoes on, that is it as the first step – that’s all.  So don’t make excuses. And when you actually start to move those endorphins kick in and you feel great and want to keep going.  So it is just that initial tiny bit of effort. Don’t let the demons of illusion trick you.    Remember this in those times.