Monday, February 16, 2009

What motivates you to exercise?

I started a group called Fit Group on a health activist community site that I am a member of called WEGO Heath. My goal with the group is to allow others interested in exercise to discuss what they are doing and to inspire each other to get out there and get moving.

To my surprise (sort of) I started getting responses from people not on what they were doing to stay fit, but on why they weren't doing much or how they only reluctantly exercised. Rather than feel negative or discouraged, I became inspired to personally motive the group members to get up and get going. One of the biggest complaints about exercising is boredom and I totally understand that. I have a very busy mind and overcoming that is more than half the battle.

One of the women actually wrote a short blog post about being a habitual gym quitter. It was great! She pointed out that 80% of your exercising success is actually showing up. Nothing could be more true. Whether you are jumping in your car to hit the gym or going for a walk around the 'hood, you are the only one that can make that happen.

Why do you exercise?

1. Weight Loss - We all know that a thinner you is a healthier you and exercising burns calories, builds muscle and revs metabolism.

2. Athletic Look - Once you become somewhat satisfied with the number on the scale working out to achieve a certain look kicks in. This has been my motivation for a long time - tone, slightly defined arms, legs/butt that don't jiggle too much, flat stomach, I could go on forever.

3. Mental Workout - A mental workout not only satisfies your physical goals, but lifts your mood and reduces your stress. If you can get to this point, exercise is a priority in your life. You are benefitting far beyond what you ever could have imagined in the beginning. The scale becomes less of an issue and the look comes more easily.

I am #3. I really crave my workout and although the physical look is still important to me, I thrive on knowing that I have done something great for my health and feel energized and ready to take on the world. This is why I get so excited about motivating others to exercise. Once you make it a life habit, the rewards are beyond expectation.

A few simple ways to stay motivated:

1. Find an activity you enjoy. Whether it is walking, swimming, biking, jogging, aerobics, weight training, dancing or yoga, you have to have a little love for what you are doing or you just won't stick too it.

2. Take it slow. Don't kill yourself right out of the shoot. Like the old tortoise says "slow and steady wins the race". It is most important in the beginning to create the habit of exercising for yourself rather than overdo it.

3. Find a workout buddy. Take it upon yourself to motivate someone else to exercise. Once again, no matter what the workout is, a walk around the block, weight training or whatever, if you are expected to be there for someone else, I know you will.

4. Take a class. Group fitness classes are a great way to get a good workout in. You get motivation from the instructor, make friends and hopefully enjoy sweating with the group.

5. Keep your mind busy. Boredom is a huge problem so load up the i pod with your favorite tunes or maybe get a new audio book from the library.

6. Create a schedule. If you belong to a gym and show up on the same days around the same time, faces become familiar and eventually you are likely to meet some new friends. They will wonder where you are if you haven't shown up in a few days.

7. Don't make it all about weight. Although losing weight is a hugely motivating factor, don't get too discouraged if the scale doesn't move. As long as you keep working out, change is on the way. You will be building muscle which increases metabolism, working your heart to maintain better cardiovascular health, as well as controlling your blood sugar. If you really need a number, get your body fat percentage measured. For me this is a much better indication of body composition and progress.

I would love to hear what motives you to exercise or how you manage to stick with it. Please leave me a comment then get out there and get moving!!

- Shannan


Carolyn said...

I couldn't agree more, and especially in these high stress times. I was recently laid off and, at the time, not regularly exercising. I wasn't sleeping, my butt and thighs were starting to lose tone, and my weight kept inching up.. So, I guess I started exercising for numbers 1,2 AND 3!

Since January, I have been just taking about 30 minutes a day either on the treadmill or doing a quick pilates mat workout, and I feel so much better. The immediate effect was sleeping through the night. I feel like no matter what is going on around me, I am taking the time to do something positive for myself. And I wouldn't trade my peace of mind for anything right now, so, to answer your question, THAT is my motivation. Oh, and the butt, thighs and weight aren't doing too bad either! :)

Keep up the great work, Shannan!

Living A Whole Life said...

Great job Carolyn. Exercise is a fabulous way to manage stress and why not use your new found free time to do something positive for yourself!

Thanks for the comment,


Sarah said...

I'm sorry we surprised you with our lack of motivation! However, you've done a GREAT job of encouraging us to get up and get going! It's worked for me really well!

I have been exercising mainly to keep my body loose and limber. Dealing with chronic pain daily my doctors told me that even walking everyday would help me relieve some of the constant pain. I did it religiously over the summertime (sunshine!) but once winter hit, I slipped up and stopped. Now I'm back to three days a week (whee!) and I've been sleeping better and not hurting as much, so something is working.

I know, in the near future, my mindset is going to change from doing it to relieve the pain to doing it because I crave it. That's how I've been before and know/hope it'll be again.

I took your advice from the group and started out slow. I walked and did a little running last week and while I was sore, I don't feel like I pushed myself too hard. I am going to be trying the Jillian Michael's Shred DVD this week and know that it's going to kick my butt, but all my friends are doing it, so I want to, now, too. LOL (What motivation.)

I am going to check out our library for those audio books you talked about here (and at WEGO Health) because I know that being bored kills me working out!

daedra said...

What works for me is the new gym I joined. They're all over the place now but the one I go to is Snap Fitness. You can go in at anytime day or night and workout. And the tv right on the elliptical really helps to pass time.
Best of all, there are no long contracts to sign, we can go month by month.

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