Self-efficacy – the measure of one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals.
This is a tale about self-efficacy as it pertains to exercise.
So one day about 10 years ago, Rick ordered some fitness DVD’s from an infomercial on TV. We were staying in a cheap hotel in Carlsbad, NM and the TV in our room only got one channel. It showed the same infomercial for the entire duration of our stay.
There on the screen behind the 1-800 number and the Beach Body logo was Tony Horton explaining how to completely transform your body in 90 days using his system, Power 90. Now you probably thought I was going to say P90X, right? This was before P90X.
Tony appealed to Rick more than he did to me. At that time, I had no interest in fitness but Rick was enamored with the success stories. I assumed Tony was a meat-head plus I was skinny and therefore saw no need for what I referred to as “unnecessary physical exertion”.
A couple weeks later, the dvd’s arrived and found themselves a comfy home on the shelf next to (not in) the dvd player and there they sat.
Eventually I got curious and decided to try one of the workouts. One morning, being absolutely naïve about the non-existent status of my fitness level (because I thought skinny equaled fit), I put on some shorts and sneakers and fired up Sweat Level 1-2. I didn’t eat or hydrate first (why would I need to do that?!?!) and I certainly didn’t listen to Tony while he repeatedly said “go at your own pace” and “listen to your body”. I had no idea what those things meant, I just assumed he was talking to the other (out of shape) people and I thought, “I’m gonna match Tony!”
It didn’t go very well. Less than half way through the 30 minute routine I was dizzy and lightheaded, staggered out of the room and collapsed on my bed where I spent the next half hour or so begging god to “just take me now.” I felt like crap the rest of the day. And for a lot of people, myself included, this might have been the end of the story.
I could’ve spent the remainder of the time between then and now, explaining to people how I’m just not strong enough to exercise, how I get dizzy when I exert myself too hard, how working out literally makes me sick. I could’ve created a convincing tale, which would include my stellar example of how exercise isn’t for me. I probably would’ve made you believe it too , because I certainly believed it. I would’ve wrapped the whole thing up in a tidy little bow by finishing with “…and besides, I don’t need to work out because I’m skinny and Tony Horton can suck it!” We would’ve laughed at this and patted each other on the back for being righteously sedentary.
To be honest, I don’t know why that didn’t happen.
What happened instead was exactly the opposite. Yep, I was embarrassed by my pathetic performance in the living room and, nope, I didn’t find that particular exercise experience to be enjoyable at all. What I did have was a hard core reality check. But instead of quitting, as was my plan, the next morning I awoke full of unexpected fire and determination. “I will not be defeated by an entry level fitness video!” No paraphrase, that is exactly what I said to myself.
Days and weeks and months went by. I collapsed more times. I got back up. I did the Sculpt Level 1-2 video with 3 lb weights, I tried hard to power out 3 or 4 little push ups from my knees, I had to press pause during the lunge squats. During the Sweat video, I willed (begged) my little stick legs to not break off during cross hops and during the power yoga warm up, I landed on my face during every single chaturanga. We won’t even get into the hilarity that ensued when I embarked on my first real yoga experiences with Rodney Yee.
By all accounts, I sucked at fitness. My only redeeming quality was this, I refused to be defeated and I kept coming back so Tony, Bob, Rodney, Jillian, Chalene, and Bryan could kick my butt, again.
Why am I telling you this? Because I didn’t just hatch out of some spontaneously magical fitness egg. You can’t embark on a road to fitness expecting to already be fit and you can’t use not being fit as an excuse to stay home. I’ve worked long and hard to achieve my current fitness level but I’ve not done anything that you can’t do. No journey starts from the destination and, in truth, there is no destination, only a series of ever evolving goals. You meet your goals, you set new goals. This is how life works.
Time goes by regardless if you get off the couch or not. So why not make a push to better yourself?
Did you try a workout that exposed some truths you didn’t like? That’s ok, but I won’t indulge your story of “can’t”.