The Karate Kid, Pokémon Go, & Fitness: Getting Started on Your Fitness Journey

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The Karate Kid, Pokémon Go, & Fitness: Getting Started on Your Fitness Journey

By: Claudio Espinoza

It can be an uphill battle to get yourself or the ones you love to make positive strides when it comes to health and fitness.

Change is hard.

Motivation waxes and wanes. Well-intentioned (and not-so-well-intentioned) comments range from not helpful to downright insulting. Some days you just feel like giving up.

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“Why even try?,” you make ask yourself.

And even when you want to try, now have you to choose between which nutritional or exercise approach to take: Paleo? Low Carb? Low-Fat? Calorie Counting? Yoga? Crossfit? Nautilus machines?

Where do you even begin?

The Journey of a Thousand Miles…

We’ve been there.

And we’ve helped people who were also there.

We get it.

We understand that not everyone is ready to jump into a weight room and get a food scale right away.

There are, however, many different levels on the fitness scale; health and fitness don’t have to be a zero-sum game. It doesn’t have to all or nothing. 

With a little guidance and a little resolve, you can start to make small changes which can have a huge impact in the long run.

Wax On, Wax Off

Daniel-san wasn’t ready to fight in the All Valley Karate Tournament day one, after all; he wasn’t even ready to start martial arts training day one. In fact, Daniel-san spent his first few weeks doing household chores.

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Maybe you can’t enter a gym just yet. Maybe you don’t feel ready.

Can you start a routine at home or a park using calisthenics or bodyweight movements?

Can you jog around your neighborhood for a few minutes?

Are you able to walk?

You see, there are many ways to take small steps.

The important thing is that you take that first step.

In fact, behavior change researcher, psychologist BJ Fogg believes that even the smallest steps can be a catalyst for big change.

For example, instead of launching into a full-blown running routine, which may require too much willpower at first, Dr. Fogg would suggest that you put your sneakers on.

That’s it.

Don’t even leave your house.

Just put your sneakers on.

After a few days of this, you can add another habit. Maybe this time you make it to the front door. When the next small habit seems too hard, make it even smaller. Eventually, you’ll find yourself running those 5ks simply by building on as many small habits as necessary.

Building the Habit Tonight

A few weeks ago, we got the following from a client:

“Last night, I got a PM from a family friend desperate for help. She is over 300 lbs. and wants advice on weight loss and exercise etc… This is the third friend that has reached out like this and as much as I’d like to help them, it scares me.”

Maybe this reminds you of someone you know. Maybe it reminds you… of you.

This situation is familiar to many. It’s overwhelming for everyone involved. If it’s a loved one, approaching this in the wrong way may be painful and counterproductive. If it’s you, then you know the frustration and challenges of trying things that don’t work and giving up.

Building habits are key to breaking the cycle.

When choosing the first few habits it’s important to choose easy and rewarding habits because this creates what is known as a “positive feedback loop,” which just means that when something feels good, you want to do more of it.

This is how habits are formed, and this is how they stick.

To illustrate this, here’s how we answered our client:

“We know how hard this can be. Just remember to be compassionate first, helpful second.

Then, for starters, I like people to drink more water. Set a reasonable water target, 8 glasses of water a day. I like this habit because it’s an easy win.

Then ask if they’d be willing to track their food intake. If so, have them download MyFitnessPal onto their smartphone, or use a notepad. Ask them to track their food as best as possible. For right now, there’s no need to worry about hitting any calories targets; we just want to get a baseline of what’s coming in.

See if they can do that for two weeks. For some people, just seeing how much they’re actually eating can be eye opening.

For their next habit, while still tracking, see if they can substitute one meal per day for something consisting of whole foods. Doesn’t matter which meal, so long as it’s the easiest meal for them to substitute.

After two-four weeks of doing both of these habits, ask them to see how they feel after doing these habits. Are they noticing any changes, either mental or physical? If so, ask if they’d like to build on these habits.

If they didn’t notice changes of any kind, ask them what they think the both of you could have done better. Ask lots of questions to understand why those habits didn’t work for them, and what changes can be made to make them work better.

Once they’ve got the part down, and it doesn’t have to be perfect, just consistent, you can see if they’re willing to add activity.

Ask if they’d be willing to walk at least 10,000 steps 3 days every week, all while still doing both nutrition steps.

After adding this exercise habit, check in again in two to four weeks and ask how they feel, what worked and what didn’t, and what could be improved.

Boom!

Assuming they agreed to do all the steps we discussed, you just helped your friend diet and exercise over the course of two months. Now that you’ve open that door, you’ll have removed some of the resistance to more advanced concepts that will help them along even more.

But who knows? They could do everything I outlined, just more of it, and that could be enough for them to not be where they are now.

Less pain and more health is a win in my book.

Just Get Pokémon Go-ing

This is exactly why I think Pokemon Go is so great.

It’s fun.

It’s fitness.

It’s funess (yea, that’s right, fun + fitness = funess).

It’s getting a whole group of people who might not have had any desire to exercise to walk, sometimes for miles, all while doing something they enjoy.

If that’s not a positive feedback loop, I don’t know what is.

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This small habit – playing a game they love – might be a catalyst for so many to become fit, and that’s great.

Are some methods of exercising more effective than others? That depends on where you are in your personal fitness journey. Your next habit may lead you to Zumba, or it might lead you to deadlifting several times your bodyweight. It’s only effective if you

It’s only effective if you actually do it. 

And you’ll only do it if you enjoy it; what’s effective for you is what matters most. 

The important thing here is that fitness should be enjoyable. Find an activity, any activity, that you enjoy, and make a habit out of it.

Soon enough, you’ll be crane-kicking Johnny’s face all over Reseda. You’ll go from Pikachu to Raichu. From King-Sized Homer (when he gained an extra 61 lbs to go on disability) back to regular Homer.

Whatever it is, you’ll be healthier, happier, and feel better.

We want to hear from you. What are you doing for funess? Is it lifting weights? Is it cardio? Pokemon Go? Let’s know in the comments section.

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Claudio Espinoza
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Claudio Espinoza

Claudio Espinoza is a lover of all things 90’s, especially 90's hip-hop. When not working at his corporate job, he picks things up and puts them down, goes for long romantic walks with his French bulldog, and helps kids who can’t read good and want to do other stuff good, too.
Claudio Espinoza
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