In his most recent blog post, Transitional Fitness Trainer, Drew wrote about considering the things that help us stay on course in our fitness plans. I’ve been mulling that over, and put together some thoughts that sparked curiosity in the ongoing exploration of motivation and adherence.
There exists a yoga practice for which you get up at 4am to meditate and do yoga. It’s called Sadhana, which translates to Daily Spiritual Practice. When you actually do it, it is awesome. Here’s the thing, a lot of the time, when 4 am rolls around, you think, “Naaahhhhhh, tomorrow is really a better day to do that.” Or “I have so many other things to do today. If I do this now, it will make me so tired.” One of my elder teachers reminded us that at his age, he has slept through more Sadhanas than we’d ever had opportunity to do, so to ease up on the self pressure. One of my other teachers reminded us that you’re a different person when you wake up to your alarm in the morning than you were when you decided last night to get up at 4am to do yoga. The person who crawled in bed excited to move and meditate is long gone. They were both right.
Do you remember that Nike commercial from a few years back? It was titled “Pillow Talk”; a woman is getting out of bed before six AM and her pillow and blanket speak to her seductively (a la Barry White) about how soft and comfy they are. As she puts her feet on the floor and picks up her running shoes, they remind her she had a salad last night, “Baby, you don’t need to run, you had a salad last night. A salad!” And off she goes, running.
What makes you choose your course? What makes you wake up and want to be the person who had those ambitions last night. What’s your Why, and are you willing to continue choosing it again and again? Don’t worry if it’s vain or you think it’s dumb, that just doesn’t matter. In the moment you decide to get out of bed to run, or whatever your current wellness commitment is, it doesn’t matter if you’re driven by fear, love, accountability to another, integrity, belonging… doesn’t matter if your reason is physical, mental, emotional, spiritual or social. If it’s YOUR reason, it is more likely it will work.
We could simplify this and draw a connection to other things we do all the time. What makes you brush your teeth? Might get skipped from time to time, but certainly not for long periods of time. For all sorts of reasons. Breath, not wanting dental work, getting to keep one’s teeth. Fitness? Same thing.
I don’t know what the Nike woman’s Why is. Mine works out to be that whether it’s my daily spiritual practice or my lifting schedule, these are the things that empower me to feel like myself the way I truly enjoy feeling. There are gaps, sometimes longer ones than I like, but I always consciously choose it again. Which is a special empowerment all its own, like coming home to what is mine.
There are little mental tricks, think about what you like that is adjacent to your fitness plan. Is it the new shoes? Is it the coffee you have afterwards? Is it that you enjoy the company of the other people in the gym? Is it that you like the way things burn when you work them? Is it that you like to find your edge? Now, cling to those things and your Why with all your might and inspire your ass to do the things you know you need to do. Your longest term relationship is with yourself. It sounds like a platitude, and it’s also true. What you choose to do for yourself in the realm of fitness are some of the things that help keep that a thriving relationship.