“Working out is my Joie de Vivre.”. There, I said it, a monumental statement from someone who, merely 1.5 years ago, specialized in nothing but sitting and typing at her desk.
Being fit is not an option; it allows you to enjoy life to the fullest. Evolution dictates that strength and endurance ensures the survival of a species. However, as modern humans, we have nothing to hunt and no predators to avoid….and are left to our devices to figure out the big M – Motivation.
I have succeeded in nailing down my own M …and along the way discovered the joy of ignoring counter-motivational advices. So, if you happen to have “work out more” on your resolution list for years, you may want to check out my alternative perspective!
Counter-motivational advice #1 – Find an exercise that you like
Health experts understand the importance of getting over that first motivation hump. So they say “find something you like!”. And they give you a list of activities to try out.
Here’s the problem – I KNOW what’s out there, I have not been living under a rock. In fact, I can give a lecture on workout trends from the Jane Fonda era to last week’s favourites.
For the motivationally-challenged, it is not about the options. It is about how our brains have been wired to separate “Exercise” from “Pleasure”. Walking-and-shopping for 3 hours = Joy. Walking for 20 minutes to burn calories = Not Joy.
Only after we get over the hump, we can associate working out with pleasures. But to pick an exercise before our self-motivation kicks in? Does not work.
What works for me instead:
Learning from the kids (useful if you are a parent!)
My 5-year old has lots of “outside” time both at home and at school. Basically, running, jumping, sandbox digging, silly chasing, etc. He also knows about mommy’s “exercise time” (home gym).
One day, he saw a jogger and commented that he was being silly “He is running on the street!”. I explained to him that jogging is a kind of exercise and; when I work out at home, that’s another kind of exercise. His little brain associates all those running and jumping as “play”…and who cares if he is tired and should come in for a rest…no…PLAY MORE.
What does that mean to you? It means, anytime, and I do mean anytime, you are moving, you can consider that an exercise. Browsing the antique market on a Sunday? Yes, count that in. Strolling over to the neighbourhood ice cream parlour? It counts. Marathon shopping spree? Most definitely.
Pay attention to how your body feels during and especially afterwards. That sweating, that little sore, that little bit of tiredness…it’s your body working. Start with pleasure and you will soon find yourself yearning for more.
Move like a French Woman (by Mireille Guiliano)
Mireille Guiliano said it so well that I rather just refer you to her article What is means to move like a French Woman. It echoes what I’ve written above…but much better 🙂
It’s only the view of the workout as mandatory sentence that rubs us the wrong way.
Counter-motivational advice #2 – Happy Pictures
I used to buy health magazines when I needed some visual motivators. Somehow seeing happy people with glowing skin riding a bike made me feel instantly more virtuous, as if their “happy to be fit” attitudes somehow would rub off on me.
Needless to say, nothing really changed after a few moments of borrowed euphoria.
Here’s the problem. Those pictures are “photoshopped emotions”. In real life, people do not smile, sans sweat and in perfectly groomed hair, when they work out. Observe athletes – they mean business and they do not wear a silly grin.
Not all visuals are created equal. Here’s a super collection “Reasons to be Fit” that I go back to time after time, even adopting some as my Facebook banner. Below are a few that speak to me:
I also LOVE pictures that demonstrate “grace and strength”, like the one below (I don’t remember where it is from, but will update if I locate the source).
Counter-motivational advice #3 – No Pain No Gain
This advice is passe but many people still subscribe to it. That’s really unfortunate, because it is about how hard you work and not how much it hurts – there is an important fine line between the two.
Without being preachy, let’s just say make sure you know what you are doing, get the right professional guidance, and know and do everything to prevent injuries.
Another reason why this is so counter-motivational is that it is telling you, the current couch potato to “Get up, you need to do this 60 days programme, 30 mins a day, then you will be all good!”. So, you work out as per instructed, feeling half dead after 10 mins, about to puke in 20…..and somehow you need to mutter the enthusiasm to feel half-dead again the next day?
This is perhaps the only area in life where I would say – forget the principle of commitment. DO commit to work out but DO NOT commit to how long or how frequent. Get yourself in the gym or in front of that DVD, start moving. If you are unfit, you will likely start sweating in 5 mins and seriously panting in 10 mins. Bon, c’est tout for the day. Enjoy that feeling of your heart beating, the sweat beads, the feeling of being alive.
When you look forward to that same endorphin fit the next day, you are already on the winning track. Before you know, you will complete the whole workout and ready for more.
The bottom line is: find that little morsel of joy and it will motivate you to go back and do more until exercising becomes your daily Joie de Vivre.
So, friends, have you experienced the same thing? Do you have similar stories to share? Any great pictures to share?