Now that you have your routine up and running, the emphasis will turn to how you keep yourself on point, turning up and doing the necessary work. The keys to remaining attached to a program are variety and goals. Let’s examine each:
It is highly unlikely that you will remain excited and motivated about a program which involves doing the same exercises week after week with the only change being small increments in weight lifted each week. Not only is this ferociously boring, it is also entirely ineffective. Just as you brain needs variety in your exercise routines to remain interested so does your body need it in order to stay challenged. The body adapts very quickly to movement patterns and loads, indeed to all stimuli, and so these need to be constantly varied. So you should always be on the lookout for new ways to do this.
Hopefully this series has shown you some ways to do this. If you need to get some fresh ideas I would suggest steering clear of the popular men’s magazines which promise perfect abs in a weekend, as these are structured to make you feel bad about yourself so that you will buy the products they are pimping. Look rather to sources in your locality, people and groups in the physical world. My most heartfelt recommendation would be to start doing Crossfit, whose very driving motto is ‘constantly varied’ workouts. All your problems regarding maintaining variety would thus be solved, as variety is truly the spice of their lives.
Why are you working out? Initially it may be because you know that it will help you with your fight against HIV. After a certain amount of time this may no longer be enough. You may want to shift the focus away from HIV and more onto yourself, start working out for something you want, rather than because a virus is making you. Goals are a vital tool in sticking to your routine. Your goal may be to lose 10 lbs., to be able to touch your toes, to be able to pick your lover up when you are having sex or to run a marathon. Whatever they are, they will help you to stay close to exercising.
Goals, once achieved, provide a strong sense of accomplishment. They then need to be replaced with new ones. You start off wanting to lower your blood pressure, then once that is done you give yourself the goal of seeing some definition in your stomach area, then perhaps you want to be able to do 10 beautiful pull-ups. Give your goals a timeframe, write them down, tell them to a friend/partner. Make them real and make yourself committed to them. Celebrate when they are achieved, then bury them and move on to the next. Oh, and as it happens this will all be naturally happening if you are doing Crossfit!
We all know that working out can be tough, and if you are working out because you have an illness, you can sometimes feel like it is against your will. Make peace with the fact that you are exercising, embrace it and do some mental work to allow yourself to see it as life-enhancing and saving, rather than an obligation.
It is my dearest hope that you have gotten some help and encouragement from this series.
John Dunlea is a certified personal trainer and Level 1 Crossfit Trainer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.