So what motivates you to exercise? We’ll unpack this further today.
Learning about it is important. But taking action is paramount!
As we wrap up Habit # 2 (and reach the milestone of our 100th post), I want to make sure that you understand the value of exercise.
And break your sedentary lifestyle, if that describes you. Or help you maintain this essential habit if it’s something you’re already doing.
But let’s first address a common problem that everyone faces from time to time. We can assign several labels to it. And whether you’re a fitness veteran, or a beginner, we can all relate.
What’s the problem?
You can say it has something to do with accountability, commitment, and responsibility. And they affect us differently. So let’s take a closer look at 3 variations.
- Motivation. You know this feeling if you’re a fitness veteran. When you just don’t feel like going to the gym. And you look for reasons to justify why you shouldn’t, or don’t need to… ‘today’.
- Getting started. If exercise is new to you, then you simply need to show up and start moving. You may not want to go, but haven’t earned the right to call this a motivation issue yet.
- Getting re-started. And if you’ve ever taken any time off from your exercise routine and tried to get back to it, then you can understand and appreciate this issue. It’s kind of a combination of the first two.
All 3 of these relate to breaking a commitment that we’ve made to ourselves. Dodging responsibility.
Has this ever turned into a negotiation for you?
Inside your head, between you and you?
I have to admit. Been there, done that.
Actually, I’m not sure that you can even call it a negotiation since you’re working both sides of the argument.
And here’s the worst part – you can’t win. So stop the madness.
If you Google “motivation”, you’ll soon discover that it can be quite a complex topic. Involving behavior, and the psychology of what’s behind our actions that result in the decisions we make.
I’m going to attempt to keep it simple here. I think we’ve all heard of the carrot and stick. How about the desire to gain pleasure vs. the need to avoid pain? Same concept. Or how about intrinsic (internal) motivation vs. extrinsic (external) motivation?
In some situations, you may find that you’re more intrinsically motivated. For example, you’ve signed up for a course because you believe it will help you advance your career. You’re internally driven to complete the course because of the future potential it holds.
How about entering a competition where your results will be compared with other participants? Or the potential of a reward for achieving a sales goal (monetary, recognition, etc.). And you discover that in this situation, your drive is more extrinsically focused.
Whether you’re internally or externally motivated for a given task doesn’t matter as much as it does to recognize it. And more importantly, knowing why you’re doing this and what it will mean to you to accomplish it.
Your “why-power” is powerful, and necessary if you want to make it past the finish line.
Your WHY is vitally important for:
- staying focused on the long-term picture.
- keeping you accountable when your motivation wanes.
- helping you stay on-track when setbacks take you off-track.
- overcoming obstacles that cause you to want to throw in the towel.
We all face challenges, and no one is perfect. As we gain a better understanding of our own strengths and weaknesses, or disciplines and temptations, we can prepare ourselves to handle things that are thrown our way. Including those that can trip us up.
If you are currently exercising, accountability and motivation challenges can rear their ugly head from time to time. And they can be caused by anything.
For example, you may get derailed:
- during a plateau, when results appear to be non-existent.
- when long hours at work consume most of your waking hours.
- if you’re stressed from life’s demands and it starts taking a toll on you.
- after an injury, sickness, vacation, or extended time off from your normal routine.
- when your workout gets boring, or no longer challenges you the same as it once did.
- if chronic pain flares up.
- [Insert your reason.]
If exercise is new to you, or it’s been years since you’ve worked out, getting started may represent your biggest challenge. But you may also have to deal with:
- a weak, uninspiring goal.
- laziness from being sedentary.
- uncertainty about what to do (or how to get started).
- insecurity, fear of the unknown, or a lack of confidence.
- lack of interest, indicating the need for a stronger WHY.
- initial soreness and muscle fatigue that keeps you sidelined.
- expecting too much, too soon.
- [Insert your reason.]
Realize that these are all normal occurrences. They happen to everyone. It’s part of being human.
But it’s also exciting and motivating to overcome these challenges when you’re faced with them. So it’s best to be aware, and prepare.
Here are some suggestions. You can hire a personal trainer for a few sessions, recruit an exercise buddy, mix up your routine a bit, or set shorter term mini goals to recognize incremental results along the way.
Or try exercising at a different time, like in the evening if morning is your normal routine. You may find that you enjoy the time change occasionally, and may even get a different result.
Here’s where a strong “why” comes to your aid. Forget about willpower. To overcome inactivity, you need strong reasons why you want to (and should) – exercise. Along with what it will mean to you when you do.
And when you need a little extra motivation, take a page out of Nike’s playbook and “Just Do It!”.
Or, just stay home. Yes, that’s right. Take the day off.
Once in a while is okay. This could be your body giving you a signal that it needs a break. Only you can judge this. Just don’t let it become a habit.
Ok, let’s put exercise motivation aside for a minute, and look at this from a different perspective.
If you choose to not exercise, or haven’t exercised in years for whatever reason, we need to talk. I’m not here to pick on you. And I am certainly not here to judge. But I am here to help you recognize the necessity and the value of exercise.
And find a way to get you to take action.
While there is no guarantee that exercise helps you live a longer more active and enjoyable life, there is plenty of evidence and medical data which shows that it does.
In fact, exercise has been proven to provide numerous health benefits. We discussed some of them 2 weeks ago. You can link back here.
But in this post, I am not going to focus on the benefits again. I’d prefer to look at it from the ‘other side’ to see if I can entice you to reconsider exercise.
There’s plenty of proof that’s been gathered from people who avoid exercise and make bad food choices. After years of abuse and neglect, you’ll find many of them in hospitals and cemeteries.
By NOT exercising, you run the risk of:
- Gaining weight (and getting fat).
- Becoming depressed and unhappy.
- Having a stroke or heart attack.
- Developing type 2 diabetes.
- Falling and breaking something.
- Dying earlier than necessary.
- ‘nuf said?
This is not a scare tactic. But feel free to use it as one if it gets you to start moving.
We have one body and one life.
It’s a gift that we should cherish, take seriously, and take care of.
Next week we’ll tone it down a little as we launch our 3rd Pillar. If you’re working hard and you’re feeling the burn, you’ll appreciate next month’s habit.
In the meantime, get some exercise and keep drinking plenty of water.
Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.
Now it’s time for YOU to take action…
What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.
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