As a health coach and fitness expert, I often have clients come to me because they want me to motivate them. But where does motivation come from? I am talking about the kind of motivation that gets us out of bed in the morning to go for a walk before work or motivation that get’s us to the gym after a stressful day.
What we believe when it comes to physical activity influences our ability to sustain an exercise program. Having a narrow view of what constitutes exercise is self-limiting and tends to lead to an all or nothing attitude. A typical example is the belief that exercise counts only if we are at the gym for one hour. What if you don’t enjoy going to the gym?
Given this scenario, your chances of being successful are slim. Worst yet, you might criticize yourself as being weak-willed, and the vicious cycle of failure continues.
Why do you want to begin an exercise program? Weight loss, avoiding disease, aging well? These are valid motivators but they are all rooted in the future. We make decisions based on how we feel in the moment. When wrestling with the idea of going to the gym after a long, stressful day how energizing is “avoiding diabetes ten years down the road” as a motivator?
When we set out to “take charge of our health” we rarely exam our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about the changes we want to make and jump right into action.
To get off the diet and exercise roller coaster examine your beliefs by answering the following questions:
- Is physical activity something you enjoy or does it feel like a chore?
- Do you take your daily walk because your doctor says you should?
- Do you exercise mainly to control your weight?
- Do you eat “clean” and feel guilty when you have been “bad”?
- Is the thought of going on another diet down right depressing?
- Do you hear a lot of “shoulds” when talking about self-care?
If you want a different result, you have to go back to the thoughts and beliefs holding you back and move forward with a new narrative.