Start, stop. Push, pull. Move or remain stagnant. Story of your life, right? It is for many of the clients we see at our personal training studio. And it had been for me until recently. I love exercise because of the way I feel afterward; and I'm talking ANY kind of exercise from a walk to a 45 minute high intensity interval training balls-to-the-wall workout. I feel like my day is just starting and it's refreshing. I also believe it's the easiest thing to do if you can convince yourself to "just do it." But like many of the clients I've seen, I had a push-pull relationship with fitness.
I am "aesthetically motivated"- I want to feel confident and look good with or without clothes on. I've always felt that way and I'm sure I have society to thank for that because growing up, the thin models on television and magazines were the ones who were "beautiful". But as I've gotten older my definition of confidence has changed, and rightfully so. There is way more beneath the surface that defines a "beautiful person" and that comes from integrity and character, but that's a topic for another blog. I've been the heaviest, most out-of-shape version of myself and the leanest, strongest version and everywhere in between. And let me tell you, the strongest, smallest version of myself was not the most over-joyed and satisfied one. I believe peace and happiness comes from balance between satisfaction of your social life and appreciation of your body; what it's capable of and how you feel with or without the clothes. That doesn't mean thin, fit, or any of those things. It means appreciation of and that's it. To feel like you can keep up with the best of them, that you can do your daily life tasks with ease and that you feel good in your own skin.
So if that's the case, how do we find peace and happiness when we can't even find the motivation to start or be consistent with exercise? I found myself considering my core values; what matters to me most. Keep in mind this had nothing to do with my fitness journey at the time, I was in a place that I just needed to figure out where I desired to spend my time rather than just being run by a "to-do" list. I determined that the following are my core values:
family- taking care of, investing in, and spending quality time together
faith- believing in a greater power to serve, commit to, and tell others about
ownership- being diligent about growing your character, being responsible for what you've been blessed with and leading or connecting with others in whatever your capabilities or talents are
I was feeling like hopping on the treadmill was the last thing I wanted to do one day. I had a list a mile long and it was calling my name. I thought "man, as someone who enjoys being physically active, why do I NOT want to do this? Why am I not inspired or motivated?" *que trumpet: "dat-da-da-DA"* It was because up until that day all of my desires were superficial. My clothes had started to feel tighter, my moods wavered like rollercoaster rails, and I constantly felt like I was behind the eight-ball, always trying to catch up. I was dissatisfied by how I looked and felt. If you've ridden the same rollercoaster and you can relate, you know all too well that these feelings are not motivating. You'd think they would motivate someone but they actually do the opposite.
So it hit me; I'm not motivated by this superficial stuff, I actually want to become the person who exercises religiously. Why? Because when I see someone with nice shoulders, biceps, butt or overall physique (not BULGING muscles, but sculpted thank you very much), I ADMIRE their DESCIPLINE which is a CHARACTER trait. That, my friend, is not superficial. I know the discipline and commitment to consistency it takes to look like that. They invest their time in taking care of themselves and they represent that when you see them. I'm sure you all know (and secretly admire) someone who is consistent. You don't want to LOOK like them; you want to BE like that. This automatically turns this into an intrinsic motivation and then you become motivated.
Conclusion: your health motivation will always be determined by your core values. Your fitness motivation will always be determined by your character goals. Think of someone you admire or respect. What character traits about them do you value? Who do you want for yourself to become? Jot it down and start brainstorming because this will be your forever inspiration that will fuel your motivation. Your motivation will always fluctuate but if you know your values you've determined why you want to be the healthiest, most fit version of yourself (whatever definition that is for you). That "why" will kick your unmotivated self in the rear and you'll want to get going again. Stop living on the surface, dig a little and get inspired to tear it up. You are one decision away from your best self.