The decision has been made. You are going to get fit, feel terrific, boost your energy and improve your health. You might be planning to walk briskly 60 minutes every day, as a first step to regaining your fitness. You buy a new pair of walking shoes and a great outfit, and head out the first few mornings.
Exercising feels great. You can feel your mood improving with each passing day, and your energy levels through the day are rising.
And then something odd happens. You wake up one morning with the exercise gremlin perched on your shoulder. This creature appears for most of us 2 to 3 days or 2 to 3 weeks into a new exercise regime. His mission is to deter you from training, so he offers a range of plausible reasons why you should not bother to train today: Its too cold, too hot, its raining, you are tired, you are too busy, the reasoning goes on and on. He sounds persuasive, and it can be easy to give in, pull the blankets back over your head and stay in bed.
After a couple of days like this your training program is in tatters, and you are back to your unfit, unmotivated self. How do you stop this gremlin from wrecking your best intentions? And why does he appear in the first place?
It’s all about change. We are psychologically programmed to take actions which keep us feeling safe and secure. Change, whether forced on us or of our own choosing, is uncomfortable because it takes us out of that safe comfort zone. With change, its natural to feel challenged. The exercise gremlin is just your subconscious, urging you to stay safe: Stay the same as you always have; that way you will stay secure. How soon the exercise gremlin appears depends on your personal level of comfort with change; if you usually find it difficult to change, the gremlin is likely to appear within the first day or two of training; if you are comfortable with change, he might not appear for a couple of weeks.
There is really only one effective way to outwit the exercise gremlin, and that is to ignore him. When he lands on your shoulder the moment you think about training, remind yourself of your goals. Recognise the gremlin for who he is, resistance to change, and head out to training anyway. It takes about six weeks for him to disappear. By then you will feel so much better that he will be easy to ignore when he does appear.
By the way, its easier to ignore the exercise gremlin when you can see and feel results from your efforts: So do not be afraid to enlist support from a professional trainer, individually or part of a group, to find the right level of training for you. You will get faster results this way, making it easier to say goodbye to regular visits from the exercise gremlin.
By Olwen Anderson