Is it remembering your workout routine? Is it stretching without making faces or crazy noises? Or is it dealing with the smelly guy on the treadmill next to you who apparently doesn’t believe in showers?
While these things may be frustrating (and smelly) I bet that none of these are nearly as difficult as staying consistent. Am I right?
For the majority of us, staying consistent with our exercise is the hardest things to do.
Let me first clarify what I mean by consistent. Working out consistently means that on a regular basis you honor your body by physically moving it in such a way that your health and well-being are positively impacted. Depending on who you are, it may not mean you get 10,000 steps in every single day, or it may not mean that you spend hours in the gym everyday or hit every bootcamp and hot yoga class within the 20 mile radius of your home. The amount of exercise per week required to be the healthiest version of you is completely dependent on your own body’s specific needs and health history. An optimal amount of physical activity is different for everyone and only you will know when you’ve hit your activity sweet spot.
But, I will let you in on a few little signs that let you know you’ve found it. You will feel energized (not drained), mentally focused (not brain foggy) and here’s the biggie, other areas of your life that seem completely unrelated to exercise will be positively impacted (i.e sleep, sex life, mental clarity).
So with that explained, I wanted to let you in on the dirty little secret about consistency. It has NOTHING to do with willpower! Absolutely NOTHING.
That’s right. Despite what all the inspirational fitness messages may scream at you, the ability to stay consistently active and therefore have a healthy, long lasting relationship with your exercise has nothing to do with your will power or how effectively you push yourself.
In fact, the number one thing we MUST do in order to find that consistency sweet spot is GIVE UP CONTROL.
Sound a bit counterintuitive? Hear me out.
The world of fitness is filled with quotes like these:
Each of these is saying our mind knows better than our body and our mind needs to control our body in order to be successful.
So you may be thinking, well yeah! That’s a great solution because then I’ll stop being a wimp and push myself harder and finally get the body I want, right?
The moment we give our mind the power to be the boss of our body we are in deep, deep trouble.
How do I know this? Because I’ve been there. Before quotes like this were around on Pinterest and Instagram, I was saying these exact same things to my clients. Why? Because I was living it and I thought it was the only way you could be ‘in shape’. I spent 5 years working out every single day for 2-3 hours each day. I had mornings where my body hurt so bad and was dead exhausted I literally had to drag myself out of bed. My body would scream for just a day to recover and just a day to relax but my mind said no. And just like the Fitspirational quotes above suggest, my body followed. My mental and physical health deteriorated. Is my story an extreme of what happens when the mind controls the body? Perhaps, but lets take a look at the other side.
Say that my mind wasn’t addicted to exercise. Say I was depressed and didn’t want to leave the house but my body felt stiff and ached from inactivity. Say I was a work-coholic and moved no more than the amount needed to get in and out of my car everyday as I came and went from work. I suffer from herniated discs, neck pain and anxiety. My mind tells me to work, work, work because my self worth and identity are wrapped up in my career, but my body is screaming out for attention and to be nurtured through movement.
No matter what side is more relatable to you there is one simple truth to it all:
The more we disconnect the mind from the body by giving our mind the control, the more and more unhealthy we become and the more we continue to live an unhappy and disconnected life.
So what is the secret to working out consistently?
Stay connected to your body and listen to your body. Stop trying to control your body with your mind.
This is so simple but not very easy.
This month’s theme is all about giving up control and listening to your body. Stay tuned for next week! I will give you the facts about set point theory and the biological reason for why trying to control your body is useless.