Perseverance—How Do You Get It?

Topic of the day: Perseverance, (good, I know how to spell it now, because I persevered until the red underline went away).

I want to start with some others’ thoughts on cultivating perseverance, a critical notion to those of us in the personal training business and, more importantly, to those of you striving to stick to a fitness-nutrition program.

Wise words from friends and clients:

“Cultivating perseverance is growing your self-esteem; it is getting yourself to do it, despite competing priorities. ”

“It is a purposeful striving toward becoming your whole self, undiminished.”

“I think the best thing about perseverance in working out is that it will work for sure.  It starts to work the first time you feel good after a workout and just keeps getting better.  You don’t even have to wait months for that.  It is impossible to eat right and work out and not look and feel better.  That’s a guarantee.  I can’t think of any endeavor where perseverance pays off so directly.”

Wow, I love you, man.  So well said.

So then, why is it so hard for people to stick to a fitness regimen?  It shouldn’t be, right?  But my experience says that it definitely IS.  For some, it is because they feel they have so far to go; for others, it is the unfamiliar, the difficulty of creating and continuing a new pattern that says move more, eat better, go to bed earlier, whatever.  The thing is, you don’t have to persevere for weeks and months at a time–just a single session at a time.

There are many metaphors for perseverance and even illustrative photos that have made the Internet circuit (like the older woman paddling a rowboat carrying all her flood-salvaged possessions, including three goats).  But my favorite metaphor is driving in fog:

So, you’re driving at night, having embarked on a long trip, and you’ve got to get there (no, you can’t stop at the Super 8…work with me here).  Trouble is, it’s so foggy you can only see 20 feet in front of you, which requires you to go slowly and deliberately.  BUT here’s the thing: you can make the whole trip that way!  I know, it’s not a stress-free solution but it gets you there.

sf-train-2So what are your roadblocks?  When it comes to sticking to your fitness and nutrition goals, do you lose focus, willpower, stamina?   Maybe your roadblock is fear, stress, fatigue?  Or maybe–and this happens a lot with a fitness regimen–it is boredom!   So how do you forge ahead in the face of such obstacles?

Here are some suggestions.  Maybe you have others you could share in the comments?

  • Get dressed to exercise when you get up in the morning or come home in the evening. That way, you’re already halfway there, so to speak–now, you simply take your dressed body to the bike, floor, door, wherever it is you got dressed for (hey, i’m Dr. Seuss!). If you’re tired, you won’t be once you start moving. I have a friend who actually wears her exercise clothes to bed!
  • Find a partner.  Arrange with him/her to work out at a set time and don’t be a renege-er.  It’s not nice to stand people up.
  • Find a fitness role model.  Do what they do.  If you want to look like them, then act like them; pretty soon, it will be natural for you, too.
  • Say positive self-affirmations.  “As my vision becomes clearer, my dreams come within my grasp” (from an upcoming Personal Mastery for Women seminar, which looks interesting!).  Some other good “I” statements may be found here, along with more advice for cultivating perseverance.
  • Find inspiring quotes.  I am a sucker for inspiring quotations.  In fact, they may be my favorite part of yoga class—lying in “Savasana” position on my back, totally relaxed, palms up with an aroma-therapy washcloth over closed eyes, and then the teacher’s soothing voice begins.  I don’t care if it’s the same Kahlil Gibran quote I’ve heard 100 times; it will enlighten me if I’m open to receiving it.

So, receive it, embrace your good intentions, and remember:

“We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough.”  — Helen Keller

Enjoy the journey, for heaven’s sake, and keep moving, Jen


Perseverance—How Do You Get It? — 1 Comment

  1. Everyone will take away a different inspiration from this post. Mine is the quote defining perseverance as: “a purposeful striving toward becoming your whole self, undiminished.” That helps me picture changing fitness/nutrition habits as exciting and adventurous instead of a daily slog. Thanks, Jen!

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