The Stages of Exercise: What to Expect

It’s important to understand that there are primarily three stages to becoming fit. Many people quit exercising too early on in the process because they don’t realize that just halting the process of physical decline is a major accomplishment. They may set goals for themselves that are unrealistic. Or they keep setting goals that are more and more challenging when instead they should be saying, “I’m okay right now.” If you know that there are three stages, your mind can work with you to help you stay on course.

The first exciting stage is that you stop getting worse. In other words, you stop putting on weight (or put it on at a slower rate) and you stop getting weaker, which is a major victory in itself. Recognize that you’ve taken a major step toward making yourself better. Don’t scold yourself about the distance you have yet to cover. Instead, use your mind to reinforce the fact that you have achieved step one.

In the second wondrous stage, you begin to reverse damage. Let’s say you’re fifty pounds (twenty-three kilograms) overweight and you set an interim goal of losing twenty pounds (nine kilograms). When you get to that point, celebrate! Sure, you still have thirty pounds (fourteen kilograms) to go, but by tackling the initial twenty, you’ve already won! Be proud of yourself for getting this far—it will help you stay motivated to drop the next thirty pounds and arrive at your ideal weight and fitness level.

The third and most satisfying stage is about maintenance—where you reach your own personal goals of equilibrium and optimum health and you work to stay at that level. It’s like brushing your teeth—it’s the difference between keeping your teeth or not. Exercise is the same! Just keep doing the same workout year in and year out. Victory! Good enough is good enough.

There is no magic lottery that will give you a healthy body and sharp mind. But you can win the game with “good enough is good enough.” Your body is wonderful. It doesn’t need perfection. It just needs a level where it works well and you feel good!

Excerpt #2:

Who’s looking?

Throughout my career in the fitness business, I’ve become aware of one major obstacle that prevents people from really getting into their bodies: the fear of being looked at. It can stop people from putting some oomph into exercise.

Because we are taught to be hyper-aware of our physical imperfections, we tend to exaggerate how much everyone else notices them too. Many times people have said to me, “Patch, I’m just so self-conscious about exercising. I see all those people who are in such good shape, and I can’t help but compare myself to them. I don’t want people watching me!”

I understand this feeling, since I had to come to terms with it myself. I’m a normal guy, but because of my tall height I used to worry that I would be readily noticeable and that everyone would know if I did something wrong during my exercise routine. I’d think, “Everyone’s going to be watching me. After all, I’m the owner of this club! People are going to expect me to have perfect form when I strength train or do a stretch class.” I’d feel particularly self-conscious when I’d have a rheumatoid arthritis flare-up, leaving me temporarily week and feeble.

Well, it wasn’t long before I realized the truth: no one was looking at me! Most people didn’t even know I existed. And those who did usually glanced over, smiled, engaged me in a bit of conversation, but then got right back to their own workout. For the most part, people were absorbed in what they were doing—listening to their music and or just enjoying being in the zone working out.

When you can exercise with the consciousness that no one is going to notice your less-than-perfect maneuvers (other than your fitness instructor or personal trainer, whose job it is to notice!), you give yourself the inner freedom to focus on how good you feel. You can relax and just be yourself.

This is true not just for exercising in fitness clubs or playing a sport. It can apply to being on the beach or at a party. As you get more comfortable in your own skin, you can relax into your own physical being. Then a paradoxical thing happens: people do start looking at you. They’re being attracted to your energy. People who are comfortable with themselves make others feel at ease and, as a result, draw people to them.

Excerpt #3:

Now that you’ve got the big picture, here’s a bigger one.

When people first start an exercise regimen, they often judge themselves harshly. They focus on their short-comings or on how far they have to go, rather than congratulating themselves on showing up, seeing the great gift they have given themselves, and acknowledging how far they have come.

I have found that exercise has not only been a source of physical joy, but it has provided me with moments of spiritual connection as well. I have frequently said that your body will thank you for exercising—you have more energy than you’ve ever had before and your body will feel fantastic. Sometimes you get an even better surprise—the gift of feeling that your mind, heart, spirit, and body are truly one. . . .

The health of your body influences what you experience in your mind. There is no mind/body split. If you can engage your whole spirit in the pursuit of fitness—not just your intellect, not just your emotions—but instead everything inside you that is truly you, you’ll discover what it is to be a whole person.

Your body needs and wants exercise. Your mind needs exercise. Your heart (the loving part of you) needs exercise. Your spirit needs exercise. All aspects of you live within your body. All these parts of you allow your soul to be free because when your body, mind, heart, and spirit are in sync, you resonate with life itself. You really can experience fitness for the soul.

Author's Bio: 

Patch is a respected international speaker having lectured in Asia, Germany, England, Australia, Spain, and extensively in North America. He holds an Honours Degree in Physical Education from the University of Western Ontario and is a five-time Canadian Rowing Champion. Patch, over the last 4 years, has personally donated almost $3 million to fund a research team, the Kilee Patchell-Evans Research Group, named in honour of his autistic daughter who is now 13 years of age. The group is doing leading-edge work defining the cause and a cure for autism. Autism affects 1 in every 150 children. 100% of proceeds from his new book, The Real Sexy Smart and Strong, are being donated to the work of the world-class autism research team.

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