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The Secret of Getting Ahead is Getting Started

Who else has a love-hate relationship with New Year Resolutions? Personally, I have determined addressing small goals throughout the year helps support my tendency to procrastinate and evaluate effectively when things are not working. On the other hand, why wouldn’t you set new intentions at the beginning of every year? Whatever your style is, it’s the goal that you set that matters most, and in the words of Mark Twain, the secret of getting ahead of your goal is getting started. This year, if there is one thing I would encourage you to get started on, it would be to incorporate more movement into your life.

Believe it or Not

Believe it or not, discussing exercise is often a conversation I shy away from. Like the foods we eat and the goals we set, everyone has different preferences and relationships on how their body moves. Exercise adds a tremendous amount of value to my life - it has for decades, and as a result of being a “marathon” runner, movement has also become part of my identity. In conversation though, I tend to feel uncomfortable discussing exercise because I don’t want people to feel like they should put in the same dedication it takes to run hundreds of miles per month. I also greatly understand how many exercise options out there don’t provide that sense of identity - whether it is what is aspired for or not. Saying I am a: “spinner,” “barrest” or “HIITer” can also be extremely awkward to say out loud. That said, we should all discover the reason to make exercise a priority, and that is so we can live a long, happy life and for every other reason your doctor, mom and friend have shared with you in the past. My hope is that these three reasons will help you get started with the goal that works best for you.

Move & Remove

Why is momentum often lost with exercise in the first place? Statistically speaking, if we have failed at following through with something before, we’re most likely to fail again. Stanford Psychologist, Carol Dweck explains why this happens. We have two primary mindsets: fixed and growth. A fixed mindset is one in which you believe that your abilities and talent are what they are. A growth mindset is one in which you believe that your abilities can improve through effort and experiment. This suggests that we do have the ability to activate choices we want for ourselves, but we need to make it habitual or it becomes easier to continue to fail at these choices.

By literally asking our mind to prioritize exercise, we increase the chances of changing fixed beliefs into ones that will result in growth. Calendarize your choice of movement every week, and be open to seeing what else you can overcome and make a habit of. As a result, you may be surprised by how your choice to move your body will help remove yourself out of your own way in other choices you have been meaning to make.

New Neuronal Connections

Imagine yourself three months from now, consistently finding three days per week to find thirty minutes to an hour of exercise. Ask yourself why getting to this place is important to you? How will this improve your relationships, your work and the choices you make when preparing or ordering dinner? What will you feel like inside your body? Take in this good, and know there is the version of you you want 90 days away from today. Exercise is the gift of energy, focus and strength. Research from UCLA has demonstrated that exercise increased growth factors in the brain to grow new neuronal connections. Translation: Brain activation. Brain activation in itself increases readiness, ability and confidence - all characteristics proven to overpower the feelings or stress and anxiety.

Now or Never

In The Joy of Movement by Kelly McGonigal, she explains the effect of endocannabinoids released in the brain. Endocannabinoids alleviate pain and boost mood sending reward messages for any type of physical labor.  Exercise triggers the release of these brain chemicals. The experience of this delivers the message that everything feels right.  In other words, you feel peaceful, safe and successful which is the sentiment runners gain when they’re experiencing a "runner’s high.”  Sounds great, right?  Exercise a bit now and then you will find bliss?  Sadly, no. My job would be much easier if clients felt the effects of exercise immediately, but the endocannabinoid effects in our brain require consistency. This study suggests that the key to unlocking the feeling of “bliss” when exercising is not simply the physical action, but it’s the continuous moderate-intensity suggesting you must put in the time and effort consistently to feel this way.   Simply put, Mark Twain was right, “The secret of getting ahead really is about getting started."

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