I remember when I first started getting back into fitness about 4 years ago. I had spent 10 years partying and basically ignoring my health and as a consequence I got a massive gut. I was still strong from years of being an athlete prior to that so I looked like less of a fat ass than a lot of my also out of shape compatriots, but there was no denying it, I was fat. I still have a little bit of a gut today and I am unlikely to ever lose it also but this has everything to do with the fact that I refuse to stop drinking beer - because I love it. These days my exercise is done not so much because I love exercise (who loves exercise? I understand loving a sport but just loving exercise?) but it is done in order to find balance in my life and to be reasonably healthy in the meantime.
Exercise is tough - certainly a lot tougher than sitting on your ass and drinking beer - this much is certain. But if there is one thing that I have learned over the years of getting back into fitness, the motivation to go exercise is far more of an obstacle than the exercise itself is. This can be circumvented by being part of a group that gets together for a run instead of just going at it yourself and if you have the chance to join a running club or some other sport such as cycling or really anything at all, this really helps you because if you don't go, you are not just letting yourself down, but you are letting the team down as well.
When I first restarted my fitness journey, I would talk to people that were involved in various single-person sports such as weight-lifting, running, cycling, and swimming and they all agreed that the mental part of the game is a lot more difficult than the physical part of it.
I do all of these single-player sports now and honestly, I can completely agree with the notion that once I am in the act of doing said sport already, it is very easy to continue doing it and yes, some days are harder than others and some days I start my workout only to gas out really early and quit after doing around a quarter of what I know I am capable of... but you know what? At least I went and did something. This gives me great relief when I invariably end up having some beers at the end of the day because that is just how I live my life and unless a doctor tells me that I have to stop I'm not going to stop (to be honest I probably wont stop even after the doctor tells me to.)
One particular friend of mine who I have known most of my adult life decided he was going to start running one day. He stuck with it and now he regularly does marathons. Did he accomplish this over the course of a couple months? Absolutely not: It took him years to get to that point and even now he says that it is very, very difficult to get the job done.
So I asked him what part of him hurts the most on these long runs (I have only ever done a half-marathon)... I have a bum ankle so that's what I think about when I am running, is it your thighs, your feet.... His response was "my thoughts."
The part that affected his ability to carry on was the voice in his head telling him over and over that he can't do it, that it is time to quit, that there is no shame in giving up, you made it this far, just quit. He has never dropped out of any marathon that he has been involved in. He always finished middle of the pack but in his very first one he was near the back and was walking a lot of it - but he finished, and that, he says, is the most important part.
In my own life I find that there are two parts of my runs or bike rides that are the most difficult. The very beginning and the very end. I would be willing to bet that this phenomenon happens to almost anyone else that goes running. You feel as though you don't have it in you to even start, and then as you start thinking about the finish line the last km or mile seems to last as long as the entire first half.
Just yesterday I set out to do an "easy" 5k and when I thought I was nearly done I looked down at my tracking app to discover that I was only halfway there. This was very frustrating. Later, I looked and saw that I had a mere 500 meters to go to my objective and for reasons that don't make any sense since I routinely do 5 and 10km runs, this last 500 meters seemed longer and more difficult than the rest of the run combined.
It's all in your head. By the time I got back home I realized that I probably could have run significantly more. My body had a lot of gas left in the tank but it was my mind that was spent and I wish I knew a way to get past this but I'm afraid I just don't.
Some days are better than others, but the fact that you get out there and get started on whatever exercise in the first place, in my mind, is much harder than the exercise itself.
What about you? Do you experience this mental block when it comes to fitness? I know that I am not alone in this but it would be nice to hear stories from others out there that have experienced the same thing.