Sep 012013
Red weights on a blue background.

I’ve never been a very good sleeper but after a recent rapid decline in the amount of sleep I was getting, I decided to hit the nail on the bed and try and improve the quality of my sleep. A bit of research later and I concluded that the pattern of my sleeping was the key to improvement. Each night’s sleep mattered but the overall pattern of sleeping was the key to success – much like it is for exercise.

A friend of mine started on an exercise program entitled something like, the 30 day shred, a rapid, intense work out that will ensure dramatic improvement. Such a course is doomed to failure. After a month’s holiday around Southeast Asia, I hit the weights again once more and my body did not like this one little bit. Despite a relatively easy workout, my muscles were sore for a good week. A 30 day shred for someone who hasn’t exercised for a long, long time if ever is ridiculous. I doubt the 30 day shred earmarks days 2 to 6 for ‘REST BECAUSE EVERY MUSCLE IN MY BODY IS PURE PAIN’.

The 30 Day Shred and similar programmes are close to useless for improving one’s health. What is the 30 Day Shred designed for? To get the participant exercising quickly and to see a rapid physical improvement? No. It is designed to make money for its creators. The internet is littered with adverts that promise to reveal a secret, ‘one funny little trick’ and son, that will allow for a quick loss of weight, rapid muscle growth and so on.

Of course it’s all baloney – there are no short-cuts to greatness. One can wake morning after morning at 6am so in the evening you are tired or you can pop a sleeping pill – but only one is a long-term solution.

Exercise, weight loss programmes and many other plans for improvement ignore the key to success. Discipline. Now some people reading this are thinking, ‘obviously’. You know the ones, conversation-killers who drop the ‘obviously’ bomb to kill the conversation when you bring something up for discussion. Well to you guys I say that not everyone is like you – thank goodness.

But this group can be divided into two. Their are people who have discipline and use it to achieve success and to those guys I say well done. The other group, I think would say that it’s obvious that discipline is vital but in reality they have got little or no discipline in their lives, so maybe it’s not so obvious.

Few exercise programmes for the beginner seem to try and teach discipline because the short quick fix seems is so appealing. Intense short bursts of effort are rewarded with quick gains. On some level perhaps we just can’t face the idea of slow but steady improvement.

People can spend years talking and thinking about losing weight or getting more exercise with little if any long-term improvement. The long-haul approach is vital to achieving change. The individual exercise session or one day’s efforts are important, they are the building blocks of the wall but getting used to doing something day after day is far more important.

Forget about the high-intensity effort of any single session but rather about implementing a long-term plan that is low-intensity but regular.

Have you tried everything to lose some weight? Well have you gone for a 30 minute walk in the morning and then again in the evening, every day for six months? No? Well maybe that might do it. It’s long, boring and the only way it will happen. I suppose you can eat less too but I can’t quite get my head around that. One thing at a time.

Anyway I’m off for a bike ride. I decided to cycle every day when I wake up (after writing!) for 30 minutes. I am on day four of a ninety day plan. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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