London

I was rather self-conscious about sharing my weight issues with the world at large in my last blog, but it’s elicited some interesting responses which have encouraged me to continue in this vein on an occasional basis. Here are two of the messages I have received:

“I’m trying to motivate my wife and myself to get into a routine of 30 min/5X/week. I would enjoy hearing from you often about your exercise-training program in your blog… more than a few of your fans will find your attitude toward workouts both inspiring and helpful. My lovely wife is a breast cancer survivor and has had no sign of the disease for three years now. She is now ready to begin to rebuild her body back to where she was before treatment.”

“I was interested in your blog message about your exercise and motivation… Last March, I picked up an old-fashioned chill, was in bed for 4 days with a temperature and a crashing headache – I then had a real problem motivating myself to exercise again until August… it was getting back into the rhythm of regular exercise which helped me all round. I think much of it is to do with getting back into the habit, at which point your body starts to feel the need and you get that immensely rewarding feeling of having worked hard.”

The point about developing good habits really resonated with me. Unlike some people who seem to naturally prefer moving to sitting, my attitude is, as Carrie Fisher once wrote, that I love the feeling of HAVING exercised – I just wish I didn’t have to do the exercise first in order to get that feeling.

But I find that the mental obstacles to motivation are much less if I get into a habit of regular exercise. For a long time I used my nomadic and irregular lifestyle as an excuse to skip training, and to eat whatever came to hand. And I paid the price in weight gain and declining self-esteem.

It’s more difficult, granted, to train when I wake up in a different place every day, maybe far from the nearest sports facilities – but it is not impossible. Now I take running shoes, skipping rope and resistance cord with me when I travel, so I have a perfect portable gym. If I have early appointments, I just get up earlier.

The great thing about habits is that, once formed, they take away that daily wrestle with my conscience – will I or won’t I train today? If training is the default, I get out of bed and get on with it – and spend the rest of the day revelling in that warm, smug glow that comes from a good solid workout. To skip training starts to feel unpleasant, like having forgotten to brush my teeth in the morning.

It’s only been a couple of weeks since I became inspired to start eating more healthily and to exercise more. But already I’m starting to see some results, and that feeds the virtuous cycle. I’m starting to perceive myself as a fit person again, and that makes me want to become fitter still. I’m almost – shock, horror – looking forward to my training sessions, because I can see they are working.

Training is now the default, rather than the exception. It’s remarkable how quickly the human mind adapts to a new status quo.

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