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Consistency around food and exercise is tough.
Why doesn’t fitness motivation last? This article is about the underlying reasons that most Americans are cynical and resigned or thoughtlessly living with little or no exercise. If we understand “the why” then maybe we can create “a way” to help more people remain motivated to exercise, eat and live healthy.
Fitness has failed as the absolute remedy to obesity and illness thus far not because the vast array of methods do not work. We are 65% over fat and of that stat 70% of the over fat are obese. All of the many facets of fitness fail because of who we as a people are being and what the social agreement subconsciously is about fitness. “We will get to it when we have time.” The question to ask in order to find a remedy or somehow create a shift around this phenomenon is “Who is America that fitness is?” How do we relate to it as a people? Movement and sound nutrition is not made a priority. Japan and China have national workout programs that play in the morning for their citizens to do. Areas in parks are designated to Tai Chi and other physical activities. Companies encourage all workers to exercise. In America fitness and exercise is given lip service constantly but how high Is it really on our list of core values?
Personal fitness is not taught in normal curricula from elementary school right on up and through college. If you are not a hard wired gladiator who loves kinesthetic movement and sport as a child or play sports at a high level well then you are doomed to head out there and eventually struggle as an adult to figure out what will be your sustainable diet and exercise program on your own. There is a ton of trial and error to figure out how to optimally feed and train your body in a way that suits you and yield results for the rest of your life. Life then comes in with its many demands. It often becomes okay mentally for most of us to ditch exercise in the whirlwind of life. The context of exercise’s unimportance is engrained from young. Fitness and exercise become relegated to the same level of importance as taking vitamins, ironing clothes, mowing the lawn, or cleaning the garage is on a teenagers’ to-do list. You will get around to it later, but only when it’s made a “necessity” of life by the threat of an impending grounding.
This cycle is propagated even though there is immense importance in taking care of the one and only body that we live in. Exercise and nutrition are things that we know deep down are great for us. We end up knowing (head-wise) that we should do it (we take a subconscious stance of either enjoying it or hating it) and we often vow to get around to doing it consistently one of these days. That time is usually when the time is right or when God forbid some part of our glorious body breaks down and it becomes a “Must” to survive.
Even then some people put will still put off exercising and eating themselves healthy. It is almost as if our instant gratification society does not match up with the resilience that the human body is made up of. Due to the resilience of the human body it often takes quite a while for disease and complications to manifest and call us into action. We are so programmed to think that things are “fine” if problems do not physically show up right away. Prevention and living optimally through exercise and healthy eating do no show up as necessary.
There are a slew of reasons and excuses that people can manufacture when it comes to exercising and eating healthy. I will not be looking at all of them today. Instead I want to look at some ways to conquer that erratic and uncontrollable thing called our mind. It is the very thing that most times gets into the way of us taking action that would benefit us exponentially. It is also that thing that controls us making lifelong changes that matter. Until we look at fitness and our lack of consistency around it as much a function of the mind as it is of taking physical action, as a whole, we will be victims of not enjoying the benefits of fitness and optimal health in society.
All of the ultra beneficial things that we knowingly struggle to do consistently & procrastinate about have one thing in common. In order to flake out on doing wildly beneficial activities that are difficult we have to ignore their importance and create a way to rationalize not doing them in our minds. In fast paced society it has become so habitual that we often do not even recognize the moments that we talk yourself out of doing what we said we would anymore.
If you want to regain consistency and motivation it is important to stop yourself and become aware of the exact moment when a breakdown around fitness is occurring in your mind. We all have that moment where we say to ourselves “I don’t feel like doing this right now” “maybe I will take today off”. That is the beginning! From that moment on the reasons will start to pile up. The mind is amazingly convincing, you may even start to feel a little sick even, “tomorrow is better because…”, “it looks like it may rain”, you have something more important to do etc. Before you know it you have yourself convinced that there is no way in hell that you could have possibly considered doing a workout today. With practice you need less and less convincing and the idea of exercise becomes mundanely one of the things that you don’t have time for. That is until the inner wisdom in you brings it up again, summer approaches, you get diagnosed with hypertension or diabetes… etc.
We rely on our fitness levels but rarely invest in it
One thing to keep in mind is that this conditioning will not be broken until you (the deeper part of you) decide to override the programming. Become aware of the very moments when you break your word to yourself when you know that you should be taking action. Trace this programming through life. You will also begin to see how the outcome of your internal programming manifests itself. Also pay attention to the most common thing you say to yourself to let yourself off of the hook from the commitments you make to yourself. In fitness that could mean that you are not seeing the results you want, that you are fatter, you are sick, or you feel sluggish… you don’t like how you look etc.
The exact opposite is true of the things that you internally value & know are favorable to your existence. See that new car drive by, that new handbag, that new ipad etc. and in 30 seconds you will have convinced yourself how you cannot live without it. You actually take actions to find out more about it, find out how much it costs, in some cases even get another job to be able to afford it. You will drive yourself crazy and crack your back in half to get something that you value highly, see as possible to attain, and desire.
A few things have to be manipulated to make a change when it comes to consistency in fitness. The what, the when, and the where don’t matter if “the who” isn’t ready to do. “The who” is more than a band it’s you.
1.The first thing that has to happen is that you acknowledge and admit that fitness is an area of struggle for you if you don’t exercise 4-5 days a week for at least 30-45 minutes. Decide to make it a point of focus to make a change today.
2. Know and become aware & familiar with the exact point in your mind where the BS train is about to take off and fill up into a huge pile of super great reasons and excuses not to do a pre-planned workout. SOUND THE ALARM! And then do #3
3. Take an immediate action leading to making the workout happen. Get your keys, pick up your gym bag, start heading out of the door. Action fuels motivation. Get moving!
4. Plan your next workout while doing the current one and guard that time ferociously. Your time is the only thing that cannot be replaced. It is necessary to invest in doing activities that give you more of it and a higher quality of living.
5. Always be learning about fitness and yourself. Become familiar with and internalize what it does for you. You will get more from exercise if you are thinking and aware while doing it. Every workout shouldn’t be zoned out to music. While exercising ask yourself questions like “How do I feel? Which muscles are working? Do I have more energy today? Can I go faster? Should I have eaten more? Acknowledge any victories that you have over any obstacles that you overcome or new personal records.
6. Acknowledge that every workout adds to your purpose for living. Attach elevating the quality of your life & health to the lives of the people who love and depend on you. Learn to see the connection that exercise and healthy eating has to your purpose for living. If you don’t know what that is yet then attach it to what is important to you in life at this moment. The more connected you become to the performing of the activity the more likely that you will do it. Staying connected while exercising changes the context of it, you will find that over time through repetition that this exercise becomes personal and fun, no longer a chore. Reject the whole” Let me just get this done” mentality and trade it in for “I am investing in me and those that I love…physically”. Where else can you implement this mindset in life?
A personal relationship with fitness is the key to “being fit” and the end of simply plodding and suffering along “doing fitness”. You will never last indefinitely doing something that you do not enjoy. Fit is something that you should become. I believe that a driving force behind inconsistency and lack of motivation comes from having no personal connection to exercise, and other practiced conditioning. Without an internal and personal connection it will just show up as a chore to be done. It shows up as another mundane task of some importance. It will always be easy to blow off and even become immune to the urges from within to do something. How something shows up to you will always dictate the actions that you take around it. Check out the inner dialog that occurs in you. As your awareness of your default thinking and inner dialog become front of mind you will be able to see why you do what you do and soon wield the power to make new choices and decisions.
Control and monitor that inner dialog… it’s yours. Take the time out to hear it. Do not become immune or deaf to that inner speak while exercising. Control it as you see fit. The real you has the power. Do not be a victim of your mind. It is your tool to be wielded as you see fit. Acknowledge how you feel after a great workout and become knowledgeable on the great value that you have added to your living. On a personal level, fitness has always showed up as a necessity and something that I must do. There are other areas in life that I had to turn up the volume on the inner dialog that took place and make corrections that benefitted me as a whole human.
Until we change how we mentally relate to physical exercise on a deeper level the efforts will continue to be choppy and inconsistent. America is more than a tip away, an exercise program away, or even an article away from learning to manufacture motivation from within to live optimally. Motivation for being fit or doing anything that is challenging consistently for a lifetime is a thinking & personal game. Let’s get personal with fitness and create solutions and habits that individually fit.