“Hey Ollin, I know you’ve said in the past that doing more exercise helps keep me more focused and more productive when I write, but I’m having trouble just starting a regular exercise routine. Could you give me some tips on how to start a regular exercise routine?”
For more than three years on this blog, I’ve talked about the benefits of a regular exercise routine.
I believe exercise is not just good for your overall health but it’s also really great for writers as it helps us get rid of feelings of restlessness, stress, and negative energy that tends to clog up our bodies and makes it harder for us to be more productive at creating.
Over the years, I’ve included some exercise tips inside many of my blog posts and, today, I would like to once again dedicate an entire post just to exercise:
(For easy reading and digestion, I’ve structured this exercise guide in a easy-to-read question and answer format.)
A Beginning Exercise Guide for Writers
“How do I start a regular exercise routine?”
First of all, I am not a fitness expert by ANY means.
But I have come to realize that many well-intentioned fitness experts just don’t know how to communicate or relate to the average joe when it comes to starting a regular exercise routine.
I personally used to hate any type of physical activity, (this is totally true: just ask my friends and family), and nothing the fitness experts used to tell me ever motivated me to start exercising. I think it was because the motivation they always used to give me for exercising was having a “hot bod” one day, or because exercise would help prevent hypothetical diseases that I might get in the future.
But the only way I finally got myself to exercise regularly was by literally giving up on any future rewards and just focusing on the instant gratification I could get from exercise RIGHT NOW–in the present moment.
For example: my regular exercise routine is going jogging for about 30-40 minutes 3 days a week. So, whenever I need to make myself go for a jog, I will think about how I’ll feel right after I go for a jog.
From my previous experience, I know that after I take a nice 30 minute jog, I usually feel refreshed, energized, stronger, more confident, more powerful, and more relaxed afterward. After exercise, I feel like I’m able to clear my mind and focus a lot better on my writing. I don’t feel as restless or as stressed after I run.
So, if starting a regular exercise routine has been difficult for you, then what I would recommend is that you stop putting your rewards for exercise in the future. Stop making the goal of exercise looking good in the future and, instead, make the goal the sensation of feeling good NOW.
The reason that this works is because you’re giving yourself instant gratification: your “prize” for going for exercise will be handed to you immediately, in the present, as opposed to some fuzzy, undetermined future. This instant “reward” will motivate you to keep exercising. However, if you make your “reward” for exercise the hope for a better-looking body in the future…. well, chances are you’re not going to get a rock-hard six-pack after just one, 30-minute run around the block. After that run, when you look in the mirror and see your same ol’ flabby self staring back at you, then this will discourage you and make you less likely to keep up your routine.
So, instead of making goals for exercise in the future, make them in the present.
“What kind of exercise should I engage in?”
If you’re a lazy butt like I was, then you probably HATE any physical activity known to man.
Therefore, I would say that you pick an exercise routine that you hate the least.
For me, I had a “moderate affinity” to running, so I went with it.
You, on the other hand, may “moderately” like swimming, or biking, or hiking, or tennis. Whichever it is, just stick with that one form of physical activity for now and just put all your energy behind that.
Don’t make things too complicated. So many people who try to be more physically active try to do every kind of exercise all at once–but they are just setting themselves for failure by doing that.
Don’t do that to yourself.
Pick an exercise routine that you hate the least and remember to make your goal the sensation of feeling better right after you exercise–not some fuzzy goal in the future.
“Why do I royally suck at exercise?”
It’s very simple: you suck at exercise because you hate it.
Thus, the only way for you to establish a regular exercise routine is to make yourself fall in love with exercise.
There really is no other way.
I’m not talking about a temporary shift here: I’m talking about long-lasting change. A GIANT SHIFT from you hating all types of physical activity to you LOVING physical activity and wanting to engage in it on a regular basis.
You need to work really hard to find a form of exercise you enjoy doing and then you need to set yourself up to win every time you engage in that form of exercise. You need to make winning easy so that the exercise is enjoyable for you. If the exercise is not enjoyable for you, you will never love it, and therefore, you will probably stop doing it.
This is the reason for your constant failure: you hate exercise.
This is the key to your future success: you need to learn to love it.
How do you learn to love it? Find a form of exercise that you enjoy at least a little and then make the experience of engaging in that exercise enjoyable–then, make it easy for you to win so that you are motivated to exercise again, and again, and again!
“How do I know if a regular exercise routine is working for me?”
Again: I would recommend that you focus on how you feel as opposed to how you look. (Because: it will take some time for your physical body to catch up and become a reflection of all the exercise you have been doing.)
If you feel more energized, more clear-headed, more relaxed, more focused, more confident, and more sexy, then this means that this regular exercise routine is working for you. Regular exercise will help you sleep better, work better, and it may even help your relationships since a lot of pent-up energy has now been released from you system and doesn’t have to be unpacked on your loved ones.
You may uncover another surprising benefit from exercise: your writing will vastly improve.
“How long and how often should I exercise?”
Again, I am no expert.
But, in my experience, I have found that at least 30 minutes of exercise 3 days a week is enough to have a positive impact on my life and my writing. But I’ve also found that if you can fit in some kind of physical activity every day, this will have a HUGE impact on the quality of your life.
“How do I get better at exercise?”
After you have started a regular exercise routine, and after you’ve been doing it for a while, I highly recommend that you start reading books and magazines on physical health and nutrition to help you improve your exercise routine and its effectiveness. Visit websites on fitness, start asking your friends how they motivate themselves to be more physically active. Consult your doctor and other experts on physical health to help improve your understanding of what your body needs to stay healthy.
Educate yourself and you may be surprised to find that there are ton of people out there who’ve overcome the same obstalces you’ve come across in trying to become more physically fit–people who can help you take the next step in your journey.
Today’s Courage Exercise
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