Have you ever thought about what truly motivates you on your quest for improved health and fitness? Do you exercise because you want to lose weight? Is it because you had a health scare? Or do you simply enjoy exercising?
When I first began exercising, it was purely out of enjoyment. I was 15 and had a fight with my best friend. I noticed an aerobics program on TV and thought “maybe doing exercise would make me feel better”. It did and I haven’t stopped since. But over time, my motivation changed. Don’t get me wrong – I loved exercise. But my desire to train hard and be healthy became more about being a superior fitness instructor and moving ahead in the industry.
I realized this very clearly after I had recovered from my second knee surgery. It was all over – the surgeries, the rehab, the Doctors appointments – and I was told I could return to exercise (provided I was careful and of course, didn’t teach). But despite being given what I had longed for over the past year, I found myself avoiding the gym.
I felt lost and purposeless and I would think: “what’s the point? Everything I did was to be the best instructor. Without that, there’s no reason to go.” So, instead of going to the gym after work, I went home to nap. This pattern continued for months. I felt fatigued and depressed. Finally, one day I thought: “what can I do to make myself feel better?” You can probably guess the answer! Since then, I am as disciplined with fitness as I ever was. But the motivation comes from within now.
When you rely on an external motivator, it’s easy to become discouraged because it’s based on something outside of yourself. It’s also harder to keep going once that motivator disappears – just as I experienced. So, while it’s fine to want things like a smaller waistline, try concentrating on the long-term benefits of a regular fitness program, like increased muscle tone, more energy, lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure and an overall improved quality of life. Living a healthier lifestyle is one of the best gifts you could ever give to yourself.
So find something you enjoy, let it motivate you and reap the lifelong benefits of being active; the rest will follow in time.