The Journey is the Goal
Okay, so you are thinking of going on a diet or getting in shape. Whatever it may be, you start to grab your belly and say, “I need to start working out”. What is the driving cause for you wanting to get in shape this time? Is it a beach vacation, wedding, divorce, doctor visit, or a relationship? I wonder how many people who decide to start working out actually do it for the purpose of feeling healthier vs. some external reason. It’s my belief that too many people today are caught up in the latest exercise fads to get-fit-quick as oppose to enjoying the journey of getting healthy.
I often wonder why there are so many people who don’t work out. After all, the pros of a regular exercise regimen have been proven time and again. Still, the reality in this country today is that 60% of Americans do not get the recommended amount of exercise they should and 25% of Americans do not exercise at all.
Looking at our food choices and daily intake of what tastes good vs. what is good for us indicates to me that knowing the benefits of exercise is not enough to get us to exercise. We would rather watch people exercise while eating hotdogs and drinking beer then doing it ourselves.
As a speaker, motivator, and life coach, the one thing I despise the most is working with people who don’t want help. However, as I study the human emotions, I am finding that it’s not so much that these particular people don’t want the help, so much as, they just don’t like the process.
Studies show that how people view themselves—based on past experiences and current reality—influences their physical activity choices. Self-perception plays a major role in whether people will start exercising, and it may impede some individuals from beginning a program, even if exercise has been recommended for medical reasons. (Whaley and Schrider -2005),
When you look at how exercise is advertised, the physical perfection is the end result and ultimate goal, not the journey. This is why so many people may view themselves as incompetent without ever trying to exercise. They feel like a failure based off of the images of the advertisements they see. Women who have low self-esteem may subconsciously tell themselves that they are not good enough and could fall into this category. Fortunately, these inhibiting self-perceptions are modifiable, especially with social support and encouragement from others (particularly exercise professionals).
New marketing is beginning to emerge which shows that positive feedback and positive body image regardless of size makes a difference. You are beginning to see the newest trend in fitness which is about spiritual fitness and feeling good about who you are. I bet anyone that this will become the new fitness trend in the near future. This will be the new brand of fitness and it will not include wash-board abs. Until then, I will provide, as seen below, a few steps that anyone can do to stay on track with fitness.
Recognize what fitness is: It’s not about going to a group exercise class or a fitness facility. It can be a nice walk, a short jog, or doing yard work. Just start with an activity that you enjoy vs. trying to fit into something you are not comfortable with. This may include some specific type of class or studio.
Enjoy your success vs. other people’s interpretation of success: The more you think how successful you are with exercise, the more likely you are to adhere to exercise. All of us get endorphins with the “feelings” of success and accomplishment. It’s a twofold experience…because you feel successful, the more motivated you are and the more success you will have.
Consider your eating habits a part of your exercise program: I am not an advocate of restrictive diets; however, I do believe in balance and refraining from things that inhibit my positive mindset. For example, when a person tells themselves they can’t have something, the ego steps in and says, ‘Why not?’ This creates a battle from within. A power can be found, however, when you say to yourself, ’I choose not to eat this’. This will be exercising your right to select the better foods.
Stay away from commercials advertisements: In the 1940’s there were products being sold to help women gain weight so men would find them attractive. Now, it’s about muscle definition, wash board abs, being thin, and a tan.
With all of the protein shakes, meal plans, vitamins, and Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) products within the fitness industry insinuating that you are not fit like their models or you don’t look like them, you are being misguided or misled. Hear me when I say that not everyone can be thin so don’t allow yourself to be chasing the next fad of fitness!
And for those that obsessively kill themselves to look like those advertisements, you can often see that “thin” is a bit unnatural for them and short lived. Why…Because it is unnatural for their body types!
The danger is for those who are trying to get fit because of the social pressures. When a person can’t get fit as fast as the advertisement claims, they begin to feel inadequate and subconsciously lose heart and confidence in their own ability.
Have a buddy or trainer work with you. Working out with others and/or being in a gym can give you incentive to exercise and the feeling of accountability. A qualified trainer who is good at building an alliance with you is a trainer for life!
Having a good exercise trainer and/or workout buddy should help you understand and achieve the following:
- Help you focus on things other than appearance and weight
- Help you overcome the emotional barriers to exercise
- Help you realize your fitness interests and abilities
- Help you find creative ways to stay active
- Celebrate successes and empowering moments
- Care about your emotional ups and downs
- Motivate you
In conclusion, whatever the reason or motivation is that you desire to get in shape, exercise should be for the experience and the opportunity to experience life in a healthier way. Unfortunately, we become consumed with the media and marketing today that focuses on a certain look that is not always attainable to all. I want to challenge you today to consider viewing your exercise in a unique way by making it a social event, a life event, a journey…and that should be the ultimate goal!