5 times? 10 times? Maybe your about to work on it for the first time? If you have tried more than a few times and always seem to fall off the wagon there could be a very simple yet serious reason why. That reason is that you have not yet attached the value of training and sound nutrition to the bigger picture of your health and how it benefits everything else outside of just the immediate pain/discomfort you may be feeling.
Humans are emotional creatures whether we like it or not. Everything we do or don’t do comes back to an internal compass of emotion. The good news is we can take control of this and change it.
We naturally avoid things and situations that cause a level of discomfort, so when it comes to exercise, what often happens is that when the discomfort or inconvenience of exercising and eating right becomes greater than the discomfort of not doing it, we find it easy to let other things take priority or justify why we don’t need to do it right now. This happens a lot when we achieve the goals we have set for ourselves or when we are no longer hurting as much from a physical or emotional perspective in relation to our health and fitness.
So, the question becomes how do we avoid this trap and stay the course. Here are two strategies I have found to be particularly helpful:
- Acknowledge how your health and fitness affects every area of your life. For some people this means considering their family. Would you want your kids to be dealing with serious health issues right now? Of course not. But if the example you are setting is one of “I’m not in pain right now so I’m fine”, then they will learn that, and this can dramatically increase their chances of being in the same place in the future. If you're taking care of your health and fitness and instilling that in them, you reduce their risk massively. This can also relate to the professional arena. Do you want to be a high performer in your workplace or industry at large? If your health and fitness is being looked after, you will have more energy and focus to use at work. The same goes for relationships with friends and your wider family. Mental health is a huge factor to consider too these days. The hormonal effect that exercise has is immense in managing mental health and there is a monumental amount of research proving the benefits. There is no area of life that health and fitness does not affect. Now this doesn’t mean it has to be your number one priority above everything else. It does mean that it is a key pillar that supports everything, so keeping that pillar strong is essential.
- Remember the pain. There is always a point of pain that gets us to make a change. It may be a photo that we hate, a serious health condition, a piece of clothing or just a number on the scale. Most of the time it is emotionally based. Remembering this can be invaluable when times get tough, or you start get comfortable and notice old habits creeping in. This isn’t about being stuck in the past, this is about remembering what got you started and where you don’t want to be. Writing down the emotions you felt that you don’t want to feel again can be helpful and motivating to keep you on track and in a good routine. This can be hard to do though when we are feeling great, so when doing this be really honest with yourself, for example, don’t write down you felt “sad” if you felt “depressed” or “embarrassed”, the more visceral and honest the notes, the more you can connect to them, realise how far you have come and how much better off you are now.
To embed the changes in your health and fitness routines permanent, they ultimately have to be connected to a reason that is important to you and you alone. What gets Jenny at your local gym motivated and consistent may not work for you and that is absolutely fine. Connect with your reason to stick to the changes, let them drive you and don’t forget about them, because they are the things that will keep you going and not just achieve your health and fitness desires but keep them for a lifetime.