We’ve all seen photos of them doing it — highly successful business leaders, artists, politicians, etc. engaged in some sort of physical exercise. They can be running, bicycling or swimming but the picture always looks the same — a lean, slender physique, focused stare and they all seem to be applying every ounce of energy they can generate for that very next step, stroke or move. It is clear that this is a routine for these highly successful leaders — something they have done regularly for a long time. The question to ask is, which came first — the exercise routine or the success.
In my own life, I can track the success of my businesses (or lack thereof) with my commitment to my workout regimen. When my husband and I relocated our real estate firm from Washington, DC to Dallas, Texas in late 2007, there were a million things to do. We had to find a new home, new office space, new employees, new everything. I foolishly believed that the way I would get through it was by simply working harder and I began working 90+ hours per week after we moved. The exercise regimen that I thoroughly enjoyed prior to the move went from daily, to occasionally then to non-existent. I “woke up” two years later and I didn’t even recognize myself — physically, mentally or emotionally. I was severely depressed, emotionally drained and nearly 50 pounds overweight. That’s when I realized that I couldn’t be of service to my business, my employees or customers unless I took care of myself first. I knew that meant reestablishing and recommitting to my workout regimen.
Today, my life is barely recognizable from the first few years after my move. My exercise routine is a non-negotiable part of my daily life and I am once again happy, focused and fulfilled. My husband and I now have two thriving businesses and my exercise routine has been the cornerstone of that success. By the way, losing a total of 65 pounds and wearing the same size pants as I did when I graduated from high school has definitely been a really nice bonus! Certainly, exercising didn’t prevent adversities from coming my way, but the routine helped keep me grounded, focused and healthy, enabling me to confidently respond and maneuver through life’s ups and downs.
If you are serious about achieving the success that you’ve been pursuing, I invite you to consider adding an exercise regimen to your regular routine. The tips that I’m about to share with you will help you get started immediately.
1. Prioritize it. Many of us believe that we don’t have time for daily exercise, but trust me, we all do. It is simply a matter of making it a priority. Here’s how:
- Set the goal. Set a realistic goal for starting your routine. Perhaps you’ll begin 30 minutes three times a week. What’s important is that you set the goal and commit to it. Ask your spouse, partner and friends to help encourage you along the way. Be sure to tell them exactly HOW to support you in a way that you find most beneficial and doesn’t undermine your progress. Although there are only a handful of conditions that would hinder exercise, it is always a good idea to consult a physician before beginning an exercise routine.
- Schedule the time. Make an appointment in your calendar for your workout and set multiple alarms to notify you in advance of the appointment. Make this appointment ironclad. Life will always throw something your way. Don’t allow “life” to interfere with your exercise routine.
- Replace a habit. Many of us love “American Idol”, I know I did. However, a better alternative is using these two hours each week as the time for a workout. Another option is to commit to working out while watching the show. I assure you, J-Lo won’t even notice. I challenge you to think about other habits you have that you can replace to make room for exercise.
2. Enjoy it. Choosing an exercise routine that is fun and enjoyable helps us to be able to stick with it. A few tips include:
- Pick something you like. Exercise doesn’t just mean running, doing an aerobics class or going to the gym. Tennis, skiing and rock climbing are all fun and exciting ways to get in a great workout. I burned over 650 calories hanging out with my cousins for an hour at the roller skating rink! It was incredibly fun, affordable and a perfect family activity. Whatever exercise you choose, be creative and have fun.
- Go at your own pace. If you’ve never worked out before or haven’t worked out in a while, don’t start off with P90X! Begin your routine at a reasonable and sustainable pace. Listen to your body and allow time for recovery after your workouts. When you no longer feel challenged, increase your workout (time, weights, intervals, reps, sets, etc.). When you begin to feel bored, change-up the routine.
- Make it a game. A few months ago, I decided I wanted my arms to have the strength and definition of some of our famous First Ladies (seriously, check out the arms on Michelle Obama and Nancy Reagan — they are incredible!). For Operation First Lady Arms, I decided that after every bathroom visit, I would do push-ups. I started with one push-up per potty break and increased this number each day. If I was outside of the house, I did push-ups against a wall. It was great and gave me a trick for getting in more push-ups across my day. For “fun,” I started drinking more water. Besides being great for my overall health, those extra bathroom visits really skyrocketed the Operation First Lady Arms results!
- Join a group. Spend time with people who are looking to achieve the same things that you are. Join a group or team that helps get you moving, interacting with other people and supports your growth. A few years ago, I joined Texas Fit Chicks Boot Camp. Three times each week, I hang out with a great bunch of women who are fun, supportive and encourage me during my fitness journey. These women and I have established a close community and I feel as if they truly rely on me to be there each session. As such, I feel a greater commitment – a responsibility — to show up and fully participate at each class. In addition, with the incredible workout I get at the Texas Fit Chicks Boot Camp, I burn an average of 2,000 calories per week….hoorah!
3. Track it. The things that we track and measure — those things that we give our attention to — are the areas where we see the most growth and progress in our lives. Begin tracking your exercise regimen to ensure you are making progress towards your goal.
- Keep an exercise journal. Make a note on your calendar or maintain a journal that tracks each time you work out. I use a free app called Lose It! to track both my food and exercise. It is incredibly easy to use and even logs the number of calories you burn during your workout. Doing this helps keep you accountable to your commitment and provides you a sense of accomplishment as you review your progress each week.
- Forget the scale. Client, friend and International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness Professional Natalie Benson says, “The mirror doesn’t lie!” Instead of using a scale, consider using a measuring tape and a good old-fashioned mirror to see your results.
- Hold yourself accountable. Once you’ve made a commitment to your exercise routine, hold yourself accountable to it. Do not allow yourself to make excuses as to why you can’t get it done. Even if something pressing comes up and you cannot work out during your normal time, find an alternative – wake up early, walk the steps in your office during lunch, avoid the elevator for the day, etc. Whatever it takes, keep your commitment to yourself. You deserve it. If you find that you’ve gotten off track with your exercise routine, start by acknowledging it to yourself aloud. Next, understand how and why you got off track and recommit to the activities you’ve committed to. Finally, reaffirm to yourself the importance of the workout routine in your life, business, marriage, family, etc.
Before we are able to successfully lead and inspire our employees, children or team members, we must be able to inspire and lead ourselves. That is a large part of what an exercise regimen is about. It forces you to take the appropriate actions that make you stronger — not only physically, but mentally as well. It’s no coincidence why most successful people have an exercise regimen to which they are committed. I am not being overly theatrical when I say that my exercise routine changed my life and I believe it will do the same for you. Sticking with your workout routine will give you the strength, confidence and courage necessary to attain other goals you establish for yourself and bring success to you like a magnet. Most significantly, you will feel happier, healthier and more in control of your life and its outcomes.