Motivation gets you started. Habit keeps you going. But it’s tough when momentum runs out

Step by step: We can have all the plans and hopes we like, but without commitment we merely have plans and hopes

There are many articles written by fitness fans who are looking forward to the next exercise session moments after finishing the last. I do not belong to that club. Photograph: Getty Images

There are many articles written by fitness fans who are looking forward to the next exercise session moments after finishing the last. I do not belong to that club. Photograph: Getty Images

 

I haven’t done a tap for more than two weeks. Not a tap, or a lift, or a long slog. Nor even a short one.

The only exercise I’ve worked on during the past fortnight is with the children; primary school homework is hard.

After spending the first week patting myself on the back for completing a 5km road race, I was unwell last week and so all well-planned thoughts to up the ante went out the window; or, rather, in the window and on to the couch.

However, 15 days of zero activity is only a small part of the problem. The biggest difficulty is that I haven’t missed it. And I knew I wouldn’t.

There are many articles written by fitness fans who are looking forward to the next exercise session moments after finishing the last. I do not belong to that club.

Routine was always going to be my best friend, or my worst enemy.

It’s the reason – even more than hunger – I eat late at night, every night. It’s why I have a beer after the kids are put to bed, why I take the lift to go up two floors at work, and why I sit into the car even if the destination is only a few hundred yards away.

It’s also why, when I started this drive, it was so important to form a routine; to do some exercise a few times a week, every single week.

You forget why. You simply do.

You can’t get away from habits, but bad ones can be swapped. Though there’s no point waiting for good habits to have the same satisfying taste and enjoyment of those that are seasoned and familiar.

I recognised early on in this fitness programme that doing something – anything – regularly was probably more important than how well I trained. I just needed to put on my runners; even five minutes’ exercise would be 100 times better than doing nothing and letting go of the habit. Making the effort to make the effort is half the battle.

I picked a perfect time last March to start getting fit. I knew I had a few weeks of no distractions. There were no weddings to attend (kryptonite to people hoping to get fitter and healthier), no extra workload, a few weekends free, and so on. However, life eventually gets in the way: family, work, laziness, sickness. Time. Time. Time.

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. So breaking the habit of regular exercise, and giving in to the temptation of, well, let’s just call it non-health food, is a major stumble no matter how easily our mind dresses it up as a temporary slip.

But, by now, surely, six months after beginning this fitness and health drive, there is commitment. We can have all the plans and hopes we like, but without commitment we merely have plans and hopes.

I knew, in the back of my mind, that this moment would be crucial: a game-changer.

Up to now, I’ve done everything possible to keep the momentum.

Now I have to get the ball rolling again.

Step by step
Intellectual approach to losing weight
Most apps on straps are rubbish
My daughter is trying to kill me
It’s not you, it’s me. Hold on, it’s you
You don’t have to turn into an ass
I met my next child’s godfather at a race
It’s tough when momentum runs out
No sweetness, and lite everything
Stopping the treadmill with your tummy
When it’s my turn to make dinner . . .
The kitchen table looks out for us
- Skinny friend eats like an elephant
Tomorrow we diet
How to get back into exercise
At what age do you fall apart?
I’d jog for wine
I’m a binge drinker
- What if losing weight makes you sad?
- 12 months later, time for health tips
- The ultimate global deception

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