Exercise and I have had a tumultuous relationship, one which started young and continues to this day. It’s like a bad relationship or phone contract you just can’t let go off. You know what I mean, we’ve all been there. This, for me, is exercise.
“Exercise if you kick my butt one more time I’m out, it’s over. No more jumping HIIT sessions, or weights which I can’t even hold, no more moves which should only be done on a twister mat and if I hear one more thing about crossfit and its acronyms I’ll take its AMRAP and show it what I really think”
Why is it that something which is so good for us causes us to go through pain? It’s so much effort and quite frankly I’d rather have Netflix judge me again for how I spend my time than have exercise make me throw up again, physically or metaphorically.
Why is it then that exercise can create so many benefits and happiness for us, in the long run (no pun intended), but the thought of doing it makes me want to tie myself to the couch with resistance bands? It’s the same with our emotional and spiritual health. I want to be that “balanced” emotional being, or serene, peaceful spiritual being just oozing wisdom. Yet why can’t I get there?
Gratification, that’s the problem. Exercise does not (always) turn around and instantly give us something back. Sure there’s endorphins but who ever feels them when you’re dripping with sweat and just focusing on breathing. Whereas, that glass of wine, binge TV watching, laughing with friends offers a great big slap on the back, a we love you and a giant dose of happiness.
That’s the problem, our mindset has been recondition for instant gratification and quite frankly exercise, you’re just not playing ball. We don’t need more fad diets, exercise routines, fancy equipment, or fancy gyms for that matter. They’re all just there to help distract us from what we’re actually doing and going through. Sure, I love a thoughtful padded box (no one likes grazed shins) and a tyre throw as much as the next HIIT training madman, but what we really need is a mind shift. Happiness and gratification don’t (always) come fully packaged in one workout session but should be seen as a long term goal and not just a tub of ice cream on a week day night. If we start to see happiness as a journey we move in and towards, finding an exercise or movement we enjoy (aka. Happiness), then exercise becomes a pleasure and not a chore. Exercise becomes refreshing and not just routine.
It’s the same for our emotional and spiritual exercise. I want to engage more with my emotions and find balance. However, when that arena of patience, frustration, feeling overwhelmed, or responding with kindness appears I don’t want to be in it, facedown, to get back up and be knocked down again. I want to be in the bleachers, eating popcorn, watching, because I’ve obviously already “made it”. The problem is, you can’t sit on the bleachers without having been in the areana. (Read Brene Browns ‘Rising strong’ for someone to actually show you how to get up from a facedown moment, but stronger). Spiritually I want to feel at rest and at peace, I want to be deeply connected to what I believe God or a higher power is, but I can’t seem to get there. We don’t need more self help books, 21 days to a new you, churches, mosques, synagogues or even spiritual gurus. What we need is a mind shift from success without sacrifice, results without process, to a love affair with the victory and the fight.
Great! So how do I do this? Well, I’d love to say I have the magic bullet for you (and me for that matter) but all I have is a loaded gun. One thing I say to my clients is, “If it were easy we’d all be doing it” (maybe not helpful but true). However one line I do find more helpful is this,
“When you know why you do what you do, things become easier and you move towards your goal quicker”
Apparently studies have found that when we choose to do something it’s 90% down to the ‘why’ and 10% ‘how’. If you have a good reason for why you’re doing something the how will simply follow. (Side note: I say apparently as I heard this at a coaching conference and have no reference)
So here are a few questions to help you keep moving towards your long term health goals:
1. What does it look like for you to achieve these goals?
2. How will you feel once you’ve reached them?
3. What potential barriers are in your way from achieving these?
4. How can you help yourself move through these barriers?
5. Who can keep you accountable to these goals?
6. Which three areas can you instantly make healthier choices in to start moving through the fight, the process and the sacrifice to the victory, results and success?
7. How will you celebrate once you overcome these barriers and reach your goals?