Life is full of new beginnings, a new car, new job, a promotion, a permanent change of station and, of course, every Jan. 1 brings a familiar new beginning — the New Year.
With each new year comes new opportunities and new resolutions for improvement. Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions include losing weight, getting fit and eating healthy.
Unfortunately, each year thousands of people make these fit and healthy resolutions but fail to achieve them. We’ve all heard the excuses, “I don’t have time, I’m tired, I’m too stressed, I had a bad day, I have bad knees or I don’t feel like it.” As Airmen we cannot afford to make these types of excuses. We must be fit. It is a condition of our employment.
So if failure is not an option, how do we motivate ourselves to succeed at fitness? Let us first look to our leaders. Commanders and supervisors, are you projecting an image of physical fitness? Are you that lean and fit leader your followers will want to emulate? Airmen watch and learn from their leaders, and, according to John C. Maxwell, an authority on leadership and author of “The 360 Degree Leader,” “Followers become like their leaders. They are influenced by their values.” If fitness is not a priority for you, it likely will not be one for your Airmen.
To the Airmen, regardless of your leadership environment, fitness is a personal responsibility and the standards set forth in AFI 36-2905, Fitness Program, must be maintained 365 days a year.
So how do you best motivate yourself to get started? Here are some tips that will make fitness less of a duty and more of a lifestyle.
First, forget about long-term results. Instead focus on instant gratification. Do what is fun and enjoyable now. For instance, if you like to dance, try Zumba. Are you aggressive? Try kickboxing. Are you an introvert? Put on headphones and go for a run or lift weights. Are you stressed out? Yoga might be relaxing. Everyone’s definition of fun is different. Do what is fun for you.
Second, don’t make comparisons. Focus on you and only you. A simple way to do this is to purposely accentuate a personal attribute prior to each exercise session and refer back to it when you find yourself focusing on the strengths of others around you. It’s easy.
For instance, if you like how a green sports shirt brings out the color of your eyes, wear that color and remember how it accentuates your features. We all have things about ourselves that we like. The key is to maintain focus on what is positive about our appearance, rather than dwell on the negatives.
Lastly, plan it out. Nobody has time for exercise. You make time. Put it on the calendar and keep the appointment. The key is to be consistent. Each night lay out that shirt that makes your eyes look good or that headband that makes your hair look cute. Think about what you will accentuate the next day and how great you will look and feel.
Any novice can get started using these three tips — do what is fun, highlight the positives and plan it out. Zig Ziglar, a successful motivational speaker, once said, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” So get started now, in the new year, on the new you.