When asked, I’m more than happy to share advice on nutrition, fitness, sleep, and recovery. Most of the time, everyone already knows the answers. We’ve heard them before. Many suggestions are so simple we don’t think they could be the real answer. There must be more. And it must be complicated.
With so many voices around us, we can become confused and not want to start in the first place. We’ll hear Exercise A is the best for strong legs. The next day we’ll read that Exercise B is what we should be doing. We may hear that squats are good for our knees. But our friend just told us squatting is bad for our knees. Then, don’t forget that we must do Exercise Y, or we’ll have back pain forever. (An exaggeration, but it’s not far off.)
All that information surrounding us can crowd our minds. Influencers doing fun-looking moves fill Instagram and other social media platforms telling us “this is the exercise for you” and “do this to look like me!” But this is how they make their money. If social media influencers and online content writers were to really share what it takes to have a strong and healthy body, they wouldn’t have many followers or website clicks. Their content would be boring and repetitive, which is what good fitness training is supposed to look like. It’s important to note that fitness can be fun and should be! However, it doesn’t involve constantly switching between different activities or focusing on a new move every day.
In talking to clients and friends, I’ve found that it’s not that we don’t know what to do, it’s that we don’t know where to start. I was once asked to build a list of exercises for a project; in a few minutes I wrote down over 100 different exercises. I wouldn’t expect anyone outside of my field to compile that many, but if we sit and think for a few minutes, I’m sure a list could be created. Or we may run it through our heads and not come up with any. So where do we begin? How do we know what is right for us? Will this help or hurt? How much time will it take to try this out? Am I even doing this correctly? Will this make me sore? The questions can continue endlessly. They’ll stop us before we even start.
Decision Paralysis is the inability to decide out of fear of making the wrong decision. It’s a form of perfectionism. It happens when there are too many choices. We become overwhelmed by all our options and end up not choosing any of them. We paralyze ourselves. We already spend a large portion of our day making decisions. After a long day, the first thing we want is a non-choice or any easy one. Even if we decide which exercises we’re going to do today, the act of deciding can be mentally exhausting, leaving us with little energy left to follow through. It makes sitting on the couch an easier decision because we don’t have to make a choice. We simply sink into our comfy spot.
How do we deal with this and make an actionable plan? Thinking about something is easy enough, the action becomes our next big step. It’s been said that “the heaviest weight in the gym is the front door.” When all the thinking is done, it’s time to get to work. For most of us, we know we need to add movement into our day. We should drink more water. We should sleep 7-9 hours every night. Since we know these things, let’s start there. Choose one thing to change. One thing you’re not doing now. No matter what you choose, over time, it will make a difference because you’re not doing it now. Using myself as an example, I struggled with adding workouts back into my week after some time off. My husband shot down every objection or question I had with the statement, “It doesn’t matter. It’s more than you’re doing now.” He was right. If we walk as little as half a mile a day, which is roughly 15 minutes if we walk slowly, we will have walked 14 miles by the end of the month.
One of the beautiful things about fitness is that it doesn’t matter what we do. What matters is that we do it. Consistently.