I find myself writing more and more about motivation. I guess it is because I see a lot of people who talk about wanting to be fit, healthy and or strong, but never quite seem to take the step to get started. Sometimes literally years go by and even decades and sadly a whole life-time for some. It is perplexing and a little frustrating to be honest, but I definitely get that exercising regularly can be hard and eating well, certainly not as easy as buying take away every day.
Perhaps it comes down to the ability to dwell on cause and effect. You know, actually feeling the consequences of our actions and the likely end point of those set of behaviours. If you can do that on an intellectual level and then importantly emotional, I am sure the inner drive to start your exercise program will burst forth. We find that when people start exercising they naturally start to eat better and a cascade of other positive things flow as life just gets better.
I have always said that we help people think, eat and move better, and in that order. I now believe it should probably just start with movement because the rest usually follows automatically.
I realise the Nike catch cry doesn’t work for all though, which is why I am writing this article. Perhaps the thinking that goes with reading this, will end in you taking action (should you be one who needs it and apparently there is a 1 in 4 chance according to WHO, as it has been reported by them that 25% of the world do enough purposeful activity to make a positive impact on their health. That’s a lot who don’t!)
It has been suggested that identifying with the activity or the result of the activity, is really important too as it helps with long term adherance. I saw myself as a ‘tennis player’ as a kid, which then led to me thinking I was an ‘athlete’. I was fortunate enough to be able to carry through that belief into my later years, even when the term ‘athlete’ was maybe overstating things a little! Originally I just created the idea in my head, after knocking a few balls around on a public tennis court with one of my neighbours, but it affected my behaviour in a big way and still does to this day. I know that was a big head start and I was lucky in a lot of ways, but it is something that is always on the table no matter what your age. I have a lot of examples of 40+ year old clients re-inventing themselves all the time. I believe you can basically think yourself into almost anything and virtually at anytime. Fake it till you make it and all that! So, how do you see yourself? What if you just imagined a new version of yourself and it started to become your new reality. How cool would that be? It is possible! If you are wondering what your current identity is, listen to that inner voice that we all have. What is it saying? The labels we put on ourselves become beliefs which can be very limiting but also very effective and positive, depending on the content. It is worth being nice to yourself when you start throwing around descriptions of who you are, in your own mind. It makes sense because “we become what we think about all day long”.
We do find that the people who get the best results at Best Practice are the ones who come to us pre- motivated.
This motivation can come in various forms from our 40+ year old clientele who have finally arrived at a point where they start to consider things again after the furious early challenges of career building and family rearing:
The inspiration could be something like “I really don’t want to end up like my parents because living with dementia, immobility, weakness, cardiovascular disease, diabetes etc. etc is something that would make me desperately unhappy and dissatisfied”. When you try those things on in your mind and really imagine what it would be like, pay attention to how it makes you feel. This is the fuel for action.
Or it could be “When the time comes, I would dearly love to be able to drop down and do 20 proper push ups to impress my great grandkids because that would mean I can still do stuff and get around and enjoy an active life”. Now that is something I can relate to as well especially as I traverse my 52nd year on the planet. Time is disappearing. Consider now just what kind of old person you want to be. Do you want to be an example of how to live to those you love?
The first reason above comes from an avoidance motivation mindset and the second, achievement. I believe that both can create long lasting action. In the end you will need to find something that strikes a chord with you because the evidence for the multitude of benefits of consistent exercise, just keeps stacking up. Read this article that describes why exercise is indeed the medicine with the best side effects.
It is unfortunate that the vast majority of people in our society seem to think that pills will save them, when the consequences of an unhealthy and inactive life starts to kick in and it always does. It varies as to when this happens but an unhealthy lifestyle will eventually catch up with us.
There are a number of major problems with thinking the “doctors will save me”. The first, is that medication is usually just a band aid that masks the issue and doesn’t actually make us better, the second is that the treatment very often has other negative side effects that end up causing more and worse problems than the initial ailment, also it is very expensive to be ill. Another sobering fact around relying on pharmaceuticals has been shown that even in life threatening situations, people will only take that life saving medication prescribed, 30-50% of the time! Can you believe that, we are told we will stay alive if we stick to the pill-taking schedule and we still don’t do it? So you can see that a lack of motivation, even when it only involves simply popping a pill, will probably kill us anyway!
So how do we get motivated? I can’t tell you what your motivation should be, only you can. Perhaps some suggestions above will help you work out how to peel back the onion. The really clever amongst us who understand the power of investing will be all over this principle, knowing that a little consistent action can lead to great things. All I know, is that when the pain of whatever it is that ails us becomes so bad, we find a reason to do something about it. What that something is, will vary from person to person. Just keep this in mind though, modern medicine is great at saving lives and keeping people alive, but only if people take their drugs as prescribed. So if survival is your primary goal, you are going to have become at least motivated enough to use your webster pack as alluded to above, but if you can get even more motivated now because you would like to thrive and not just be kept alive, then you have no choice but to find a way to make regular exercise and healthy eating your ‘rest of life’ habit.
The key take home piece here is that word, habit. We all know that will-power will only take us so far. It is a finite resource, but habit?, well that is a different story. Think about all the habits you have, both good and bad. It takes no overt effort to do them. In fact you often do them mindlessly. The point is, that with a little upfront effort, you can establish a way of life that will put you into the elite club of the future. Healthy is the new wealthy! Imagine not ever having to take medication? How great will it be in your later years on this planet to move around under your own steam, live independently and feel happy, whilst your peers languish in a place of sickness and ill health?
Whilst, it is true there are no guarantees in this world, you can stack the cards well and truly in your favour. Genes aren’t even your destiny, as the study of epigenetics tells us.
Best practice Personal Training. Our goal for you?
Creating your healthy habits for life….
You just need to find your reason for starting. Leave the rest up to us as we help you arrive at the holy grail of habit!