Coach: How Do I Stay Committed (Part 2)

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Coach Don Gilbert

“If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.” –Unknown

Part 1: The Power of Purpose

Whether we know it or not, we all have a reason for doing the things we do. When it comes to going to the gym, some of us are motivated by a desire to get back to our college weight, others might be in it to stave off the encroaching effects of aging, while others are in it to draw attention to those rectus abdominis, otherwise known as abs! We all have our reasons for going and staying committed to the gym. And if we don’t, the first step in successfully staying committed to our gym, and health goals, is to do just that– find your purpose. The most important thing to remember when searching for your purpose, or your why, is that it is always changing. If you had asked me four years ago why I wanted to do Crossfit my answer would have been to get back to my college weight. Then over time my purpose shifted to me wanting to be competitive in Crossfit; until it eventually evolved into why I currently stay committed– health and wellness.  As you can see there is no right or wrong reason for going to the gym. The most important thing is that you have a reason and that it is important to you.

Part 2: Despacito

Purpose alone isn’t enough to get us out of bed and into the gym. There are technical changes we must grapple with along the way. Most self help books will prescribe setting SMART goals. I am all for this, but I am also a realist and know that we don’t always have the time to sit down and do this. Robert Heinlein wrote, “progress isn’t made by early risers, it’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways of doing something.” So, with that I offer you my second piece of advice on the road to staying committed–start slowly. You don’t want to rush into something, overcommit yourself and then feel like a failure one week into your goal because you couldn’t keep your commitment. When my work schedule changed, and I had to start getting up at 5am to make the 6am class I didn’t just set an alarm and wake up the next morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. No, for an entire week I would just set the alarm, and when it went off I would sit up in bed. I wouldn’t get dressed to go to the gym. I wouldn’t attempt to make breakfast. I just sat up in bed and did some work on my phone for an hour. I did this for several days until I was used to waking up at 5am. From there I started easing myself into going to the gym;that included having my bags packed and sleeping in my gym clothes; the latter of these is optional of course. The important thing here is that you begin slowly and set yourself up for success.

Part 3: Carrot on the Stick

Now comes the easy part. The third step in staying committed is giving yourself  a goal to work towards. More adroit advice columnists might label this section short and long term goal planning, but I’m going to spare you the upspeak and say give yourself an event or situation to work towards. For example: RSVP to that pool party you were invited to on Facebook by that college friend who never seems to sweat  in their instagram workout photos. This will help you stay committed by giving you something to work towards in the short term, as well as pondering over the purpose of over productive sweat glands. However, short term goals are not enough alone to help us stay committed. We need to set long term goals as well; these can range from getting ready for the next CrossFit Open to beating your score in a benchmark workout this time next year. No matter the end begin with a goal in mind.

Part 4: Picture This

The last piece of advice I want to offer when it comes to staying committed to your gym goals, as well as any goals you have in life, is to visualize, visualize, visualize. This piece of advice first came to me from a teammate in college who was tasked with helping me get rid of pre-game jitters. Visualizing is an important tool to use in order to set yourself up for success. I already mentioned how you should give yourself short and long term goals to work towards; well, now comes the second part of that task–visualize. In your mind, walk yourself through warming up and competing in that next benchmark workout or Crossfit Open and ask yourself: How do I feel? How is my breathing? Am I getting stuck at any one skill that I can practice now? Two things will happen; one your heart rate will increase and you will find it hard to sleep or focus on whatever you are doing, and two you will likely realize how little time remains between now and your goal and as a result get moving…hopefully. And if all else fails, I am reminded of a poignant scene from the TV show Parks and Recreation that speaks volumes to what drives us to stay committed. Ron, the shows “manly man”, is being persuaded to eat healthy by his friends and family after subsisting on a diet of purely bacon, scotch and red meat. It is only at the show’s conclusion that Ron takes out a banana, peels it, and then eats it all while holding a photo of his wife and two little girls.

In short, when trying to stay committed to the gym remember these four important steps: have a purpose, take things slowly, begin with a goal in mind, and visualize yourself conquering that goal-often.

To your continued success,

Coach Don


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1 thought on “Coach: How Do I Stay Committed (Part 2)”

  1. Great article Don. Breaking it down into easy steps is the only way to keep a commitment to show up. Another way to look at it is asking the question, “what will it cost me if I don’t participate in my own health and fitness goals?” Then break it down into bite sizes to build the habit. We all need encouragement some days, and knowing that you will waver is part of being human. Deliberately using willpower to show up is good, but is never enough. You have to find the right reasons for you to make the effort. Thanks for all your support in helping me stay focused.

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