Finding Fitness Motivation : What’s Your Why?

There’s a hundred reasons to workout, and you’ve probably heard many of them…heart health, more energy, weight loss or maintenance, better immune system, improved sleep…

Not to mention the fact that human beings are not meant to be sedentary creatures.

Here’s the kicker – knowing something is good for you, and executing on that are two very different things. This is why we need discipline. More importantly we need a WHY.

I didn’t always have a why. Admittedly, I didn’t give the concept much thought earlier in life. I was moving because it was somewhat ingrained in me. I grew up dancing, and eventually became a cheerleader. I spent a few years running track – and with all of these activities it was the same story – you just showed up, and did what your coach asked of you.

Initially in college my fitness routine was on autopilot. Exercise was another thing I did because it seemed like something you were supposed to do. Having grown up in an athletic family with a father who did triathlons and a mother who owned a dance studio moving was just a part of life. It wasn’t until I started studying kinesiology and exercise science my sophomore year that I started to understand the mechanics of movement, and the mental importance.

Understanding that bodies really were meant to move, and that muscles will eventually atrophy if completely at rest helped. But I don’t think that simply having the knowledge that something is good for you is enough. (If it was we’d all be eating leafy greens, and broccoli at every meal and skipping Netflix to get 8 hours of sleep.)

When you inevitably feel unmotivated, and life gets in the way you need to tap into that WHY.

My why has changed over the years. If you asked why I workout 10+ years ago I’d probably say something generic like to stay in shape, or that it’s good to be healthy. Or, maybe if pressed I’d answer that I wanted to look a certain way and continue fitting into my jeans, and not have to buy a new wardrobe.

But at some point my reasons became more significant than health, or let’s call a spade a spade – vanity. If you asked me just a few years ago why I’m committed to my routine I’d say my primary reason had become stress relief. (Along with staying in good shape to help my clients do the same…) What I eventually noticed with glaring clarity was that when I took longer breaks from moving I was prone to feeling anxious, and easily irritated. No joke I could see that if I didn’t workout consistently I wasn’t a real peach to be around ( anyone else?) And I was enlightened. When I don’t workout I inevitably get cranky. Endorphins are real, guys!

For me and many of my clients exercise is almost a form of therapy.

At some point more recently my why expanded. Now a huge part of the reason I feel motivated to stay in great health is for my little family. Ill admit I didn’t always get it when people listed “having the energy to keep up with their kids” as a reason to exercise.

Spoiler alert – now I do.

It’s partly related to having the energy to chase them around, and keep up with their craziness. My girls are three, and one and a half. I recently read that people have the most energy in their whole lives between 18 months and four years old. Yikes! So yes they are energizer bunnies who seem to have no off switch.

Beyond that I want to live a long, healthy life and enjoy my family of four. Not to mention all the other people I love.

I’ve realized we have a RESPONSIBILITY of sort to be there for those we love. If we aren’t taking care of ourselves we’re doing a disservice to the people that care about us. This doesn’t mean you need to sweat everyday, and it has little to do with the scale. But it DOES mean that if you’re not incorporating healthy habits into your life (and yes exercise is one of them) you probably aren’t showing up as your best self. For the people you love – or for yourself.

Your why could be a combination of things – like mine – or one bigger reason. It can be for stress relief, confidence, improved sleep, or just the knowledge that you’re a nicer person when you take time to move. One way or another take some time to figure out what will motivate you during the times you struggle to get off the couch.

Trust me having a WHY is key, my friends. It’s what will keep you going next time that motivation wanes, and something you can refer back to whenever you feel the need.

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