An inner drive to behave or act in a certain manner.
To move is to give meaning to life.
To move is to be joyous.
To move is to be alive.
I wrote these three sentences because they are very true for me. I love to move! So my motivation for movement comes easily and naturally. My inner drive to exercise is a simple extension of joy. Some of my first memoires were of being at home with my mother exercising along with Jack LaLanne on television. (It was rare to be alone with my mother as I have 7 siblings.) I am now 50 and I still love to move and I dare say exercise. Jack sure had some power over me. By second grade I had declared my career: a Fitness Coach.
I realize that not everyone feels the same about exercise or moving as I do. A lot of people don’t. So I started thinking about, researching about, talking to others about the concept of motivation. Wow it is COMPLEX!
So I want to explore your motivation or lack of it for exercise. You have promised yourself every year about this time that this would be the year you would start and continue an exercise program. By Valentines Day you have already built a library of excuses. Maybe next year!
So lets do something different. Lets take Sarah Ban Breathnach’s advice in her book Simple Abundance and do the simple act of surrendering to what is. That is right! Let’s just simply acknowledge you are not perfect when it comes to exercise or you may even say you hate it. Start there! We have no chance for change without first acceptance. Take a deep breath or several and surrender to what is: you don’t exercise; you haven’t exercised in years; you have never consistently exercised. Whatever your situation, start there.
Next evaluate your situation honestly looking for both strengths and weakness. I called my best friend and told her I was writing about motivation and exercise and asked her if she was exercising. (She claims to “hate” exercising and has struggled with food issues.) At first she said no, but then as we continued to talk she tells me she walks her dogs about 2 miles everyday. Wow pretty damn good for not exercising! She says she is driven by both the fear of premature death due to heart disease and she loves to see her dogs getting to walk. So if we looked at this situation with more honesty, we would see that she is not at her ideal weight nor at her heaviest weight; she is walking 2 miles a day (nearly 730 miles a year) and gets the added benefit of being outside (which studies show is awesome for your health) and gets to feel good about loving her dogs. My friend may be in a different place than she wants to be but she might need to see the whole picture.
So after we surrender and evaluate our situation with honesty, it might be a good idea to find a reason, a value, a desire for why we want to exercise (change).
I called one of my sisters who is 62 and started lifting weights for the first time in her life. (When she was in her early 50’s she had completed 3 marathons but then quit running as quickly as she started). I was curious what got her desire stirred up to start exercising again. She told me she felt weak and old. She reported, “My crippled up friends scared the hell out of me. Plus I wanted my body to reflect that I felt 40. Of course a huge factor is that my husband is sick and I didn’t want to be sick along with him. I wanted to be young for my kids and grandkids and besides 60 is the new 40. I have several role models and I figured if they can do I can too.”
This leads me to my last thoughts on sustained motivation and that is trust. Trust is built by taking small action steps toward our desired behavior or goal. Another sister of mine wanted to run a marathon. SHE WAS NOT MARATHON MATERIAL! She walked, and walked and walked and lost 50lbs. Then she started running: one telephone pole at a time. She has completed 5 marathons, many half marathons, and is now climbing mountains in Colorado in her retirement.
I believe once we begin to trust ourselves and believe in ourselves, we have what I think of as the cement for sustained motivation. A value linked to a consistent habit, linked to positive outcome, gives us a better shot at long term change.
How to become motivated:
- Take the action of surrendering to the “now” and accepting what is, evaluating honestly.
- Hooking yourself up to a BIG WHY! YOUR BIG WHY, not someone else’s is key!
- Small consistent steps toward YOUR goal lead to self-trust.
If after reading this you are still not sure you want to start an exercise program, keep Googling I am sure you will find the answer somewhere!
Your regrets aren’t what you did, but what you didn’t do.