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Originally published July 25 2005

How to achieve exercise success, even if you can't stand to exercise

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

I know from experience that a lot of people become intellectual experts on health, nutrition, physical exercise and disease prevention, among other topics, without really integrating much of that information into their lives. We often find it easy to agree on the principles of health, but difficult to actually take the steps needed to make those principles a reality in our own lives. I would like to share some tips with you on how to start moving in the right direction toward reaching your personal health potential.

First off, I think a lot of people secretly harbor the belief that medical technology will come along some day and take care of their health challenges without requiring any effort on their part. I know publicly most people deny that's what they're waiting for, but internally a lot of people are holding out for that.

When I was much younger, I knew a high school graduate who chose not to go to college. He said he was holding out for the promise that Bill Clinton made before he was elected to make college tuition free of charge. Today, as a result, he has no college education. A lot of people grasp onto the same irrational hope with their health. They want to hold out until there's some magic pill, surgical procedure or new functional food that will take over for them and reverse all of the poor lifestyle decisions they've been making over the last few years. Let me help you set this aside by saying there will never be a magic bullet solution to good health that doesn't require your participation. There will never be a new surgical procedure, a new chemical or a new discovery from the natural world that will replace you taking action, starting right now. If you want to be healthy, it must begin with action.

Small, incremental improvements

Although I'm a firm believer in taking action, I'm also a huge proponent of taking really small steps as a way to achieve lasting change. I believe that if you want to get results, the best way to do it is to make small incremental improvements. These improvements can be very tiny. For example, if you're trying to make the switch from regular cows' milk to soymilk, you would want to do it one week at a time by mixing soymilk and cows' milk together in progressive ratios.

For example, during the first week you might have your beverage as 90 percent cows' milk and 10 percent soymilk. That might even go on for a couple of weeks. But in time, you'll get used to that taste, and then you can use 80 percent cows' milk and 20 percent soymilk. And after you've made these ten small shifts, you'll be on 100 percent soymilk. This is a much smarter and more effective strategy than trying to just give up dairy products and switch to soy products overnight, because if you make such a drastic shift, you're likely to reject it. Integrating health and fitness information into your life only requires that you be persistent in the application of small incremental changes over time.

Getting to success with physical exercise

Now let's talk about physical exercise, because this seems to be one of the most challenging things for people to take on in an effective way. Here's why most people fail at trying to begin a physical exercise program: They typically try out a few exercises for a few days, but they begin to feel bad, so they give it up. By "feel bad" I mean their joints hurt or their muscles ache, or even the very first 10 minutes of engaging in exercise seems painful to them.

In this way, they're actually following a natural system of de-motivation, whereby the things that hurt in life are routinely avoided. So there's nothing unnatural about avoiding exercise if it hurts. The trick, though, is to stop being dominated by the short-term pains of exercise, and instead allow future factors to be your positive motivation. In other words, if you're going to engage in regular exercise, the positive feelings that you get from engaging in exercise must be greater than the negative feelings produced by the exercise itself.

The only way those positive feelings can be increased is if you manage to associate exercise with things that are very positive in your mind. Because, let's face it, sweating it out in the gym is not going to produce positive results that very instant unless those results are in your head. I believe that those people who are successful with regular physical exercise programs, whether it's cardiovascular training, strength training, swimming or other forms of exercise, are able to make these associations and keep them strong. They are able to visualize their bodies as healthier and stronger; they are able to visualize feelings of high energy and fantastic health and hold those visualizations so firmly in their minds that they outweigh the short-term pain of engaging in physical exercise. I'm one of these people, but I didn't use to be. So I can tell you this is a strategy you can learn.

For starters, let your physical appearance motivate you

Here's a tip that definitely worked for me in the early stages of this process. I used to be very concerned about how people perceived me especially on an outside, physical level. This was, of course, because I was overweight. You probably know, if you've been overweight, that you can be very sensitive to people's perceptions of you. So, I set a calendar date about six months in advance for an event where I would see a lot of people that I hadn't seen in a long time. Then I decided I would have a whole new body by the time I showed up at that event in six months.

For you, this could be a family reunion, a school reunion or just getting together with old friends. Possibly even a summertime outing where you might wear a swimsuit and your body will be right out there for everyone to see. It doesn't really matter what the event is; just use some sort of external occasion. Now remember, this is just a short-term strategy. Long term, this should all be based on internal motivations. But I'm saying that in the short term, if you can't find that internal motivation, you can use the threat, so to speak, of the opinions of all your family and friends to help motivate you.

So, for the next six months, your goal becomes to basically impress people (or perhaps to avoid embarrassment) six months down the road on that certain calendar date. So you have both positive and negative motivation at work here. You want to avoid embarrassment by not showing up looking 100 lbs overweight. You want to show up with a slimmer, trimmer body that you feel good about and that looks good to others. Again, I'm not saying this is the long-term strategy, because it's a very bad idea to base your ultimate self-image on other people's perceptions of you. I'm saying that if you need a real boost to get this motivation going, you can use the threat of public embarrassment in your own mind to sort of kick you in the pants and get you moving. Or, you can use the potential reward of feeling great around other people as motivation. Either way, you set a fixed calendar date and you start working toward that goal. That will get you in the gym, sweating off the pounds and engaging in strength training, and it will help you overcome the short-term pain of things like exertion and muscle soreness.

So you can use this gimmick to get you motivated and into the gym. But that's not the only place you're going to really transform your body. You'll have much greater results if you get a lot of sunshine and take regular nutritional and superfood supplements. There's no question that you will see much faster results if you have outstanding nutrition. In fact, you will be able to perform considerably better in every physical way with the help of good nutrition. Modifying your diet to maximize healthy nutrition is a commendable thing to take on in preparation for this.

If you do this for six months, you will find yourself undergoing a radically positive transformation. At the end of the six months when you've gone to your public event and people have complimented you on your brand new body and you've felt great about it, you will discover something else: You will come to realize that their opinion of you is not nearly as important as your opinion of yourself. And at that point you will switch to an internal motivation. You'll want to be healthy and keep yourself in great shape just for the rewards you experience personally, even if no one else ever saw your body or you never interacted with any other people.

The self-reinforcing motivation system

Now you'll really be on a roll, because the snowball effect kicks in and you become an unstoppable exercise machine. Now each and every workout will be internally rewarding. The pain and the muscle soreness will have faded away, because your body has adapted to regular physical exercise.

You'll start to notice that you feel good every time you workout. This will all result from making a positive and powerful association that is not based on external events. This is the best kind of association you can shoot for. Now you'll even start to miss your workouts if you don't get them on a regular basis. From here it's just a matter of how much time and effort you want to invest, and how much time your schedule allows, because you can really explore some fantastic health results by pursuing this internal positive association motivation strategy.

But remember, it takes time to get there. I don't expect anyone to just wake up one day, hop out of bed and say, "Gee, I want to make exercise really rewarding right now!" That's not realistic. You may have to use gimmicks to get yourself into that situation, and it may take literally months of regular exercise before it becomes internally rewarding for you. But that's fine. The long-term rewards are tremendous, and I can assure you it's worth every iota of effort you want to put into it.

Lastly, I do want to affirm that those first couple of months in the gym working out or walking around outside in order to lose weight can be very, very challenging. Those are the most difficult months of all. I can tell you that exercise is a heck of a lot easier when you're fit than when you're unhealthy. So remember as you begin and as you're working through the first 30 days or the first 60 days: It does get easier. In fact, it gets a lot easier -- it becomes so incredibly rewarding that in time you'll find yourself going to the gym and looking forward to getting on the treadmill and pumping out a few minutes of exercise just because it feels so good.

That can literally be your outcome if you so choose. So remember, use all the motivators you can, even if they sound gimmicky. And aim for small, incremental improvements in every area of your life. That's the way to achieve continued success in nutrition, physical training, exercise and any transformation you want to make in your life. You don't need to try for an overnight success. Instead, aim for steady, achievable success that grows one day at a time.


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