Every time when someone shows up in the gym with determination to get oneself in shape, there are stages of thought that precede this appearance. Basically, every decision making process can be described by this simple diagram:
Precontemplation – Contempletion – Preparation – Action – Maintenance
First, there is no thought or awareness that problem exist – it’s a stage of precontemplation.
Then the person realizes that the problem exist and starts thinking of ways how to solve it. For instance, the guy realizes that he works a lot of hours and he no longer can keep up with his friends during weekend soccer game. So he realizes that he is out of shape. Time to change, therefore he gives himself a promise to join the gym and start exercising two-three times a week in addition to his weekend soccer.
At this stage the person sees himself/herself as exercising one. So he or she starts collecting data to make a smart decision, as well as preparing to make a first move.
This is the moment when data is collected, and our guy convinced himself that he can’t wait any longer to choose the gym, so he shows up at the door of a health center, purchases membership and starts a training routine.
The guy shows up regularly, trains hard, sees results, improving himself, and increases his level of awesomeness. His game improves and his look improves.
Now, I today I want to say few words not about this classic model of decision making, but about a loopholes that many of us get into.
The first tricky area is when person gets stuck in the contemplation or preparation phase. Classic example of it – the girl realized that she is out of shape, and her intention is to join the gym to start exercising. Every time she passes by any fitness facility, she tells herself “I need to start exercising”. Now, here is the problem – she does it every time for three months in a row, and physically does nothing about it.
As human beings, we are quite unique creatures, because we can think in abstract categories, we can picture something that is not right in front of us. Thinking about joining the gym, picturing yourself stepping first steps on the treadmill, or lifting first dumbbell can be a very realistic feeling. However, do not get caught in it!!! Promising yourself to start exercising, picturing yourself exercising is NOT exercising itself. It does very little to actually change your physique.
Assess your behavior. Calculate how many times you promised yourself to do the change (join the gym, clean the cupboards at home from various junk food, switch to a new training routine, ask a personal trainer for help, etc. etc.). If it happened more than three times – chances are, you are falling in this trap. The longer you procrastinate, the harder it will become to actually approach this change.
Put this plan on paper with your handwriting. Once its written, it stops being the dream and starts being the project. This phrase hit me recently, as I read a very inspiring blog of one of the The Buried Life crew members, that was posted on Tim Ferris blog here
The second tricky area is when person starts a preparation stage. I remember very vivid example that my mentor, John Berardi, world-renowned nutrition expert gave us during one of his lectures. He wanted to learn how to play guitar, and started shopping around, browsing catalogs, and internet forums trying to pick the best one. He was determined to buy a best guitar and he actually was shopping for one… until he realized that he knows about guitars almost everything… except how to play it. Once he realized it, he immediately went to the nearest guitar store and bought the cheapest one, just to start. And started playing 5 minutes a day.
Now, here is another trap – we often start researching the subject and we can get preoccupied by the research rather than subject itself. If you are looking to get in shape, and you already started shopping around your area for a decent gym, do not get caught into constant daily shopping around. Figure out what is it you want to do.
a) If you are looking to lift weights (which is what you SHOULD be looking, regardless of what your goal is) – then make sure the fitness facility has a rack of dumbbells, a squat rack or a power cage and a barbell with few plates
b) If you are an endurance athlete, or you think you need to do running to get in shape – look for treadmills, ellipticals, stairclimbers, bikes and rowers.
c) If you want to join classes – make sure you get the class schedule and figure out if it suits you or not.
d) If you want to swim to get in shape – join the pool.
Now – do not look for a perfect facility that has all these things at once. While you are looking, and comparing, and searching, and hesitating, and “thinking about it” – time runs out. It is better to start today in a warehouse or garage gym than in three months in a perfect Mega-Gym. Chances are, you will not use even a third of the equipment and services offered, so don’t try to grab everything today. Start slow.
Trap 3 – is getting stuck in maintenance phase. When somebody religiously goes to the gym, performs exercises regularly, but makes no changes ever – then its next problem. And very often gym rats are completely oblivious about it. Every day in the gyms I see how guys and girls are stuck in their training routine, that became a complete comfort zone for them and see no results. It is already a precontemplation phase of a next problem, that has to be solved, once they realized that the routine they are on doesn’t provide any results. Again, the simplest way to figure out if you are in this phase or not – keep constantly assessing your progress.
Well, there you have it. Three common sticking points for someone who wants to make a change in their life. Specifically, a change of improved health athleticism, well-being and longevity. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know if this article helped you.