“My motivation to get fit: I refuse to be anyone’s fat ex girlfriend.”
--My Pinterest Board
I was having a hard time figuring out how to start this post so I decided to search “Fitness Motivation” on Pinterest. That is the first quote I saw, and it is perfect to explain the last practice to live (and love!) where your feet are, and here’s why:
Whether it’s the example of running into your ex or not, we’ve all been through this same thought process. Gotta start running 5 miles a day to look good for prom coming up. Or Shoot, my high school reunion is in a month, time to hit the gym. Or the classic panic that comes with the realization that “bikini weather” is just around the corner. In fact extrinsic motivation to workout is so common that I bet if you gave yourself 20 seconds right now you would be able to come up with something or someone outside of yourself that motivates you to workout.
See? It’s not hard to find a reason to workout. And what an easy way to help motivate you to hit the gym! So what’s the problem?
The problem is that these are external. They are fleeting. They have a time limit or a deadline. And as a competitive athlete, I was raised to believe that working out was strictly for external gains.
When my hockey career ended, it was really hard to motivate myself to workout. I mean, like, REALLY hard. I honestly didn’t see the point in going to the gym if I wasn’t training for something. So I signed up for a half marathon and proclaimed that I was now a “runner.” I set up my whole training schedule, down to what stretches I was going to do on my off days. I bought one of those hand-rollers in anticipation for the sore calves I was sure to have. I even bought some sweet running accessories to really solidify my new athletic pursuits. Just as any athlete would, I set myself up for success.
Safe to say, I did not run that initial half marathon I signed up for. I trained for a few weeks and quickly began to dread every time I had to lace up my sneakers. My self-talk grew increasingly critical for my lack of discipline to train. It didn’t occur to me until years later that just because I was a successful hockey player didn’t mean I was going to a successful runner, or swimmer, or yogi, and that that’s OK.
Working out for YOU isn’t about succeeding, being the best, or making your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend feel bad about breaking up with you. It’s not about keeping up with the latest “beach bod” workout. But mostly, it’s not about causing stress. Exercise is proven to reduce stress, but studies have also shown that exercise can be stress inducing if it is a form of movement that you feel pressure to perform or don’t enjoy. With all the life stressors we have to deal with in today’s world, exercise should not be one of them.
Now, I make it a daily practice to ask my body what type of movement (or rest!) it’s needing, and to HONOR those needs. Sometimes, my body needs an intense HIIT workout. Other days, it needs a long walk to clear my head. Other times, it needs me to skip a workout and sleep-in. The most important part here, though, is to make sure you listen to those needs. There is no need to fight or resist what your body is asking for. Spoiler alert: your body will win. Every time.
Tomorrow morning when you’re waking up, I challenge you to listen to your body with compassion and understanding. Ask yourself what working out for YOU would look like today. You might be surprised by the motivation you find when your body takes charge!