Getting Started is the Hardest Part

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started." - Mark Twain
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain. Wise feller. (Photo copyright
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is start.

I’ve been putting off resuming a full fitness routine for about two weeks. Although I was purposely taking it easy to ensure I am fully recovered from my concussion, I also started using it as an excuse.

The truth is that I was scared. You know why? Because I knew the first week was going to be really hard, and I knew it was going to hurt.

How ridiculous is that? To not do something you really want to do because it’s hard?

I’ve never been one to let fear hold me back for long so on Monday, I put on my big girl pants and began. I’m now four days into daily workouts and cold turkey on the sweets and chocolate. With a bit of work, dedication and luck, I hope I’m on my way to getting back into shape so I can resume my active lifestyle in the near future.

In a way, I’m lucky. I’ve had LOTS of practice at starting over (after two concussions and three broken ribs in 1.5 years, I should be an expert by now). And while I’m not glad that I endured these injuries, I have taken some positive lessons away from the experiences.

Here, in no particular order, are my tips to help you get started with whatever it is you want to do.

  1. Set yourself up for success – Change doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen without changes in your routine. Take a hard look at the behaviours that you need to change in order to support what you want to achieve. For me, I can’t get up in the morning to work out unless I’ve had a good night’s sleep. The problem is that I’m also an insomniac night owl who’s addicted to her phone. So here’s what I’ve been doing to make sure I can get up in the morning:
  • I set an alarm on my phone for 9 p.m. to remind me that it’s time to put the phone away and start my bedtime routine;
  • I told family and friends not to try to contact me or expect a response after 9 p.m.;
  • I set my phone to go into do not disturb mode at 10 p.m. every weekday;
  • Since my phone is my alarm clock, I put it across the room so I have to get out of bed to turn it off;
  • To ensure I can move quickly into my workout routine, I set out my workout clothes at night so that all I have to do in the morning is roll out of bed and get dressed without thinking about what I’m doing or give myself a chance to make up excuses.

I am slowly but surely turning myself into a person who enjoys morning workouts, something I once refused to consider as a possibility.

  1. Tell people – Enlist your accountability team (read more about this here)! Tell a friend, your significant other, your social media followers, etc. what you intend to do and ask them to remind you of your goals when you feel like slacking off.
  2. Set realistic goals – The old adage that goals should be SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely/Time-bound)) is true. Set achievable short-term (i.e. 1-4 weeks) and long-term goals. Write them down. Put them somewhere you can see them, like the homepage of your phone, the screensaver of your computer or on your bathroom mirror. When you feel like giving up, look at your goals and focus on why you want to achieve them.
  3. Trick yourself – I do this all the time because I’ve discovered that my brain is gullible. For example, I recently was engaged in a text conversation with my sister. Instead of writing something like “I hope to do a yoga class this weekend if I have time,” I purposely wrote “I am going to yoga on Sunday.” Immediately I’ve put myself in the mindset of designating a time to do yoga instead of waiting to see if I could find time for it.
  4. Think about how it feels to achieve your goals – Instead of dwelling on how much my body was going to hurt, which I had been doing for two weeks and getting nowhere, I started thinking about how it feels to increase my weights, to work up a good sweat, to look in the mirror and like what I see. Eventually, the desire to feel these things again began to outweigh my dread of physical discomfort.

Getting started really is the hardest part. But already, after only four days, I’m feeling back into the swing of a healthy routine that includes daily workouts. That’s not to say I won’t have bad days or stumble occasionally. I definitely will. But when I do, I’ll remember these tips and use them to help me start again.

What are your best tips for getting started? Leave them in the comments below.