Everyone has their own reasons for deciding to exercise, and most people have more than just one reason for doing so.
Deciding to change
One of my greatest passions is talking with people about their fitness. Even though most of us know that consistent exercise is an important part of maintaining our health, it is still a struggle to find and keep a regular routine.
When starting or maintaining a fitness routine, most people find it hard to continually stay motivated. No one else in our life, a great personal trainer, a super-fit friend, or a really supportive spouse, is going to be able to re-direct our life in a healthier direction. I know that regular exercise is great for moods, and it has positive effects on both anxiety and stress.
If we want to make a change, it must come from inside us, or it just won’t last.
Sometimes the first step of figuring out what will motivate us is figuring out what is holding us back.
The strings that keep us from moving forward can be impossible to see, and if we can’t see them, we can’t cut them.
Uncovering what is keeping us from taking charge of our health requires digging around in our hearts to see what is really going on.
The things that hold us back usually aren’t easy things to admit to ourselves, but when we do, it makes it that much easier to break the hold that they have on us.
Is the fear of stepping into an unknown gym, or a brand new class keeping us from going at all? Are we afraid of finding out how much our fitness level has changed since we last worked out?
Are we intimidated about not knowing what to do once we step out of the locker room? Do we fear that others will be judging our attempts? Again, the things that keep us from forming an exercise routine are different for everyone, but regardless, they are really effective at blocking our motivation.
The next step is figuring out what will continue to motivate us to sustain our fitness routine for years to come. Telling ourselves that we need to lose weight, or that we need to increase our cardiovascular endurance will not improve our motivation when it gets tough.
We have to dig deeper and be genuinely honest with ourselves about our goals.
Successfully reaching a health and fitness goal requires understanding that a physical health goal is rooted in an emotional intention:
- do I want to feel more confident in my own skin?
- do I want to keep my heart as healthy as possible so that I can see grandkids and great-grandkids get married?
- have I been wanting to try out for a competitive sports team?
- do I want to be able to keep up with the dog or my kids at the park?
These are the sorts of things that help get me out of bed in the morning when sometimes it would be so much easier to sleep in.
There’s no harm in writing our own core reasons for exercise on a sticky note and placing it somewhere it will be seen every day. Fitness is more than vanity. It is the pursuit of a healthier and more enjoyable lifestyle.
What’s best for me?
I found that figuring out exactly what worked best for me was a key part of establishing my own regular fitness habits, but I always use positive breathing exercises.
Finding an activity that I enjoyed meant I needed to try a few different things, and I knew what worked for my friends and loved ones might not be for me. What it boils down to is whether it is walking, yoga, an exercise cycle, weightlifting, working with a trainer, or a combination of many things, there is something out there for all of us.
I also found that settling on a time of day that best fitted my work and activities schedule made it so much easier to establish a routine. I tried exercising first thing in the morning, then during my lunch hour, and then in the evenings before dinner, before settling on the one that suited me best, and which I knew would be most consistent.
For me, it helps to remind myself that this is the only body I will ever have. When it gets hard, I know that my health will reward me with resilience, and the ability to live a longer and more abundant life, with the people that mean the most to me. It’s a great incentive.