Have you had been over-indulging recently? A few too many drinks? A few too many chocolates? Are your belts shrinking? Maybe you have decided it’s time to change your lifestyle. At the top of most people’s list is Exercise. January is the biggest month in gym calendars and memberships soar. Unfortunately, consistency of attendance does not and most gym-goers have dropped their new healthy ‘habit’ before March rolls around.
For those who have never exercised regularly before, starting a new routine can be a daunting thought. And all too many drop off before anything is really achieved. To see results from exercise is a slow process, but with commitment and determination, you’ll get there. When you start for the first time it’s worth understanding what your mind and body will go through on the journey to a healthier you.
Stage 1: Initial Discomfort Stage or Alarm Phase
When you first begin an exercise routine, it feels like hard work. Your body tires quickly, you feel short of breath easily, your muscles are often sore the next day you will find it difficult to prioritize time to work-out.
The good news is that this stage doesn’t last forever. In most cases, between four and six weeks are required before the next stage is reached and the length of time depends on your initial fitness level, how many sessions you participate in.
During this stage, motivation often needs to come externally, via friends, your trainer etc. This is also why we sign you up for an initial 4 weeks as we want you to see the benefits by the end. But the key is consistency, you have to commit. Many people drop off at this stage before any results are achieved.
Stage 2: The Physical Stage
During this stage, the time and effort that you have put into your exercise program begins to pay off; much of the discomfort of doing exercise is over and you even find yourself feeling good after each session. More importantly, you will feel the rewards of your effort – you will feel fitter, begin to see changes in your body shape and you may discover that you have more energy. Motivation becomes much easier, as there are now positive benefits to balance the short term pain or inconvenience of exercise. Some external motivation is still helpful though as it is easy at this stage to skip a session and lose momentum, dropping down the ladder on your goal plans.
Stage 3: The Psychological Stage
During this stage your exercise program becomes a pleasurable experience. The physical rewards are still realised, but the main motivators are now psychological – a person in this stage wants to exercise and enjoys the physical challenge.
When you reach the pleasure stage, you don’t like to miss a session, in fact studies have shown that regular, long-term exercisers show withdrawal symptoms if they miss a session.
When you reach this stage, motivation is internal and you have set goals you are striving towards and your efforts should be rewarded.
Congratulations! You have made major steps towards living a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. Now just keep it going.