When I first started my fitness journey it was a chore.
Workouts were just another thing to get out of the way, something to check off the list.
Prepping a days worth of meals for the next day of work, school and gym before I could go to bed was a necessary part of my schedule.
I looked forward to weekends were I could sleep in, have a “free day” for my favorite foods and sit on the couch watching basketball or movies. I craved those unstructured, lazy days where I didn’t have to think about exercise or eating healthy.
Then somewhere along the way something changed. I started looking forward to workouts. I become a morning exerciser. I started to enjoy cooking. I got up before 10 am on a Sunday to hit the gym! It all started to change when I stopped focusing on the WHAT:
- WHAT do I weigh?
- WHAT size am I?
- WHAT do I have to do to get there?
I started to focus on the WHY.
In order for this fitness thing to “stick”, I’ve learned, you have to change your mindset about WHY you do it. You have to find a WHY that goes beyond the number on the scale or the size on a pair of jeans. You have to do it for reasons that align with the kind of life you want to live and the kind of person you want to be.
- Don’t do it for someone else. Do it because you want to take control of your own destiny.
- Don’t do it because you want to wear a bikini. Unless that bikini is what is standing between you and enjoying a day at the beach with your family.
- Don’t do it to look like someone in a magazine. They don’t really look like that anyway (at least not all the time).
- Don’t do it to avoid illness. Do it to enjoy health.
Once you find your WHY then you can start looking for the JOY in the process.
Like meditation and mindfulness, it takes practice.
Practice thinking about exercise differently.
I GET to go to the gym, not I HAVE to go to the gym.
Practice being present during your workout.
Breath with the movement. Hear your heart beat. Feel the wind on your skin as you run or ride. Appreciate those around you in the gym, seeing yourself as a member of a team on a great mission to fitness.
Any movement that gets your heart rate up counts as physical activity. So hula hoop, play basketball or jump rope every chance you get.
Practice smiling during exercise.
Everyone seems so serious in the gym. Put a smile on your face and laugh at yourself at every possible occasion.
In this way exercise almost becomes a form of mediation. Perhaps it was when I was truly present in the moments during and after my workouts that things changed for me. That moment when I realized how good I felt when I was moving. Discovering I could work through and face my problems during a long cardio session. That realization that I was a kinder and better person after making my muscles burn.
It’s the WHY, the promise of JOY, that makes the difference between motivation and commitment. Motivation can wane when you stay focused on the WHAT.
Commitment is there when your WHY is clear.
Are you motivated or are you committed?