Last week, I ran a little healthy habits challenge. It was so much fun! It was wonderful connecting with beautiful women looking to take charge and take steps towards building foundations for a healthy lifestyle.
There were many things that came up during our week together. One being motivation and staying motivated and consistent. This was primarily focused on movement. Exercising, moving our bodies. But it can really apply to anything in our lives if you think about it.
Motivation to move our bodies doesn’t always come easily. For so many, the new year brings the “I am going to exercise more.” attitude. And, for many, this does not last long. One contributing factor is motivation. Low motivation can be devastating to those thinking about or just beginning to exercise.
Here’s the thing, our brains often prove tougher to train than our bodies, and when our brains aren’t entirely on board with our plans to move our bods, our bodies tend to take the path of least resistance. Can anyone relate to that? I know I can.
Motivational challenges strike most of us at one time or another. These slumps can be caused by many different things. One thing that does stand out is that we tend to put too much emphasis on external motivators.
By external motivators, I am referring to things/concerns that exist outside of us. Such as a goal weight on the scale, the image in the mirror, or our concern about what other people will think. Internal motivators, on the other hand, are our internal standards and satisfactions. Our desire to do our best. Expressing our true values and following our authentic interests.
I am talking about movement in particular, but this can apply to many things in our life. What is your why, what are your motivating factors for wanting to achieve something? Whether that be in your health or in your life. Are your motivating factors internal or external? I invite you to take a look at this and see what you find.
Back to why we want to exercise. Possibly the initial focus is achieving a flatter stomach or losing some weight. While that external motivator might get you moving initially (and I am not saying these are not valid reasons), it’s just unlikely that it is going to keep you going over the long term. What is the why underneath your why? This is where I invite clients to look within themselves to come up with some internal motivators. Value-based goals, such as an authentic desire to enjoy a more active lifestyle or truly wanting to make your health a priority. It’s an amazing conversation when we dig down and connect to these things. For example, you may find that you have more success focusing on that flatter stomach or weight loss goals when they are tied to authentic internal motivators. Like,” I want to be a good example for my kids. I want to take care of myself so I can be the best version of me.” These will be individual to you.
I have been there, friends. Having been a very active and fit person before my Lyme, I was faced with the reality that I physically was not able to exercise, let alone walk at times (and when I did it was extremely painful and with a limp). This was very hard for me to swallow, very hard.
Movement was a huge part of my life. It was a big adjustment for me. During this time, I came to the realization that yes, I did exercise for the benefits, it did contribute to the healthy lifestyle I was living. But here’s the thing. Much of my motivation, my motivating factors were external. Like the image in the mirror, maintaining a healthy weight, and to be super honest, in part what other people thought. Makes me a little uncomfortable saying that, but it was true back then.
I thought about all of this during the time when I was not able to move all that well. The times when I would visualize me moving my body. Flowing through yoga poses, standing at the barre, walking Tucker. All in my mind's eye.
You see, I didn’t appreciate my body’s ability to move and feel. I didn’t until it was taken from me. So here I am. Having regained my health. Adjusting to a new normal. A reintroduction to my body and how amazing it is. I am regaining my strength, I am now exercising, moving my body consistently. But with a whole new perspective. A whole new appreciation and love.
These days before I begin to move, I take some deep breaths and center my attention. I reconnect with my internal motivators. I thank my body and appreciate it for its ability to move and feel. Because you know how the saying goes, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”
It is this gratitude-grounded attitude that nourishes my body and mind.
What are your internal motivators? Perhaps, you have never thought about it in this way. I invite and encourage you to think about this. Make a list if you don’t have one. Revisit and reconnect with your internal motivators. They can help you maintain momentum. And most importantly, always be gentle with yourself!