Where does motivation go? I mean we have all had those amazing weeks/months at the start of a new “healthy living” kick when we’re on it. We’re sharing all these amazing posts about cycling to work and drinking loads of water and saying no to cake. People compliment us on our achievements and so we carry on for a while longer (at this point I won’t address the frustrating habit people have of only complimenting us on looks, not on other achievements, that’s for another day).
Then something changes. Maybe the restrictions of our “healthy living” start to feel too tight. Maybe we get a cold. Maybe work, life, something else gets in the way, and suddenly it’s been weeks since we last saw our trainers.
How do we find the missing mojo when it’s gone AWOL?
Well, there are two things to address here, I think.
First up is this “healthy living” ideal.
“Healthy living” seems to have become a new synonym for diet. Diets don’t last. They fail. That is their job. They help you lose weight in the short term, and then they fail because they are time limited. Unfortunately “healthy living” seems to have become the new name for diet. But, Emily, healthy living sounds so positive? How can you say it’s just another diet? Well, it’s still full of restriction and guilt. The cornerstones of any diet. If you find yourself saying “oh no, I can’t have that slice of cake, I’m being healthy” YOU ARE STILL RESTRICTING. If you find yourself saying “I don’t fancy any cake at the moment because I’m not hungry” you’re actually listening to your body. Meaning you aren’t dieting, or “healthy living”, you’re living.
Now don’t get me wrong, getting to the point of understanding exactly what your body wants AND then providing it, can take a long time. We have any number of ingrained habits and beliefs that can easily get in the way. We can look at intuitive eating and its benefits another time, but for now, if you’re swapping one set of diet language for another, please don’t. Your motivation doesn’t live in a pile of kale any more than it does in a Muller Light.
Secondly, the exercise mojo.
You have been jumping around to an exercise DVD every morning for 2 weeks and trying to cram in a walk every lunchtime. After doing nothing for months. By the end of the 2 weeks you’re exhausted. It’s too much. And the guilt cycle starts again. “Oh I can’t get more active, I tried but I was too tired”, “oh I don’t have the discipline to keep up my exercise regime”. Hang on a sec. This sounds just like the diet language but in exercise form.
MOTIVATION DOES NOT LIVE WITH DENIAL. That’s the biggie here. Motivation comes from a place of happiness and wanting to achieve. Denial comes from a place of misery and wanting to change from some perceived “bad” thing. Going back to the diet mentality – you deny yourself because you believe you need to be thinner and that your current self is “bad”. And on the exercise front – you deny yourself any self love, choosing instead to slog your guts out in an act of self hatred.
OK, so where is motivation? It’s in listening to your body, in doing what is right for you right now, in striving for the best, happiest YOU, not the media version of some soulless perfection.
Thanks Emily, I’ll just stay on the sofa with some chocolate in that case, cos I don’t want to deny myself this Netflix series.
Well, OK, if you’re knackered and you need to recharge your batteries, do have as much rest as you need. But… if you’re feeling ready to start moving but just can’t quite find the oomph to get out of the door or put on your exercise gear, why not catch yourself unawares – dance along to a favourite song, play on the swings in the park, go for a long walk. In doing whatever you decide, be aware of what in that activity is making you feel awesome. Is it the fact that you’re singing and dancing? Is it that you’re embracing your inner child? Is it that you’re in nature? Remember this awesome. This awesome is your motivation. This awesome is the thing that feeds your soul and makes moving more make you feel better.
Everyone’s awesome is different. I love running (very slowly) with my friend and our dogs. We chat and put the world to rights. The running is almost secondary to the “therapy”. It’s all about putting me first, not denying myself anything. I love skiing (why do I live in Norfolk?!), because it’s about being in stunning scenary while getting my legs and lungs working.
What’s your awesome? I’d love to know in the comments.
Want more ideas on how to move more without needing lycra or gyms? Come and join my Embracing Fitness Community on Facebook.