by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
There are many motivators to exercise. Yet, there’s an essential element for adherence to any fitness program. Make it yours …
You may have the perfect ingredients for a healthy lifestyle: Center membership, a nutritious diet plan, a personal trainer, and a strong desire to wear skinny jeans. But, you won’t taste the sweetness of success without one simple addition: self-value. A lack of self-worth is proven as one of the biggest deterrents in reaching fitness goals.
Without valuing yourself, a basic motivator is missing. You’ll feel unworthy of investing the precious time and energy necessary to adhere to exercise and healthy eating. Ironically, consistent exercise can improve your self-esteem. Just as exercise increases energy levels but requires energy to get started so, too, can it boost your self-confidence.
Where to Go from Here?
It’s easy to give a push to start working out when the complaint is “I’m so tired.” You know what needs to be accomplished: Get some sleep so you can manage a workout (even if only brief). Before you begin an exercise program with the goal of increasing stamina, you’ll try for a good night’s rest. Then, build upon it.
When low self-worth is getting between you and the Center’s doors, the solution for hurdling this challenge is not as clear. One of the many benefits of regular exercise is increased self-esteem. Ask random members at the Center. They will share the great impact exercise has had on this aspect of their person. They are confident in their abilities (even if only with dumbbells), their improved health, and their toned outward appearance. When you feel good, you look good.
After an exercise group completed a structured fitness program, data indicated adherence was relative to the person’s self-worth. Those who continued beyond the study were those who valued themselves. Self-image was found more relevant than the amount of weight lost or the type of exercise performed. This further proves the theory: When people value themselves it helps them practice a long-term healthy lifestyle.
Change Your Thinking
Your brain is completely yours. You could be held captive in a prison, but your thoughts still belong to you. Remember this and you’ll feel liberated from the constant, and sometimes berating, messages society sends. You aren’t as others think of you. You are who you think of yourself. Only you have the power to dictate your thoughts.
When you catch yourself focusing on stray negative thoughts, swat them away. They’ll buzz around like unwanted mosquitoes ready to bite, so be diligent. Don’t indulge in this negative banter with yourself, especially when you’re doing your best to go the extra mile—either on the treadmill or in life. Instead, cheer yourself on. Throw a pep rally in your mind and let the roar of the crowd greet you at your finish line, wherever you want that to be (not where others think it should be).
Get to truly know yourself, what makes you soar and what makes you fizzle. Self-destructive thoughts are the enemy. If you know as much as possible about them (their origin, triggers, hot buttons), you’ll be better able to combat them.
Be nourished by that which you find positive about yourself. Focus on good aspects of your physical and emotional being. Perhaps you have toned arms or a mega-watt smile. Maybe you are generous and kind. Then, question whether your limitations are real or obstructions created by your own mind. Dig deep and discover more.
Connect with a younger person and be his/her role model. Help this person avoid being a victim of societal standards of beauty. Demonstrate acceptance by living a body-positive lifestyle. Exemplary behavior would never include body-bashing yourself or others. Show the reality of humanity, not computer-generated imagery. Perhaps your eyes will be truly opened as well.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen or perform community service. Suddenly, you’ll feel fulfilled and grateful. Witnessing others struggle with a severe illness or suffer from hunger puts flabby arms or a large gut in perspective.
Any exercise veteran can tell you the first time you work out in public may feel awkward. For the shy or insecure, simply working out in front of a mirror can be uncomfortable. Be ready when you step onto the fitness scene. Check out your Group Fitness class in advance. Talk with the instructor and other classmates about what to expect. Take advantage of your free personal training consultation. These sources can help you arrive ready to rock the fitness world, or at least know what to wear on the Exercise Floor. Sit with a water bottle and member-watch. Seeing a fitness community in action can motivate you to join the crowd.
Baby Step down the Fitness Path
Don’t expect to run before you can power walk. Make goals small and achieve a bunch of them. This is an excellent confidence-builder. Some ideas for beginner goals:
- Create a healthy habit that can be easily incorporated into your day. Make it something completely doable, like a quick overall stretch before your morning shower.
- Add an additional veggie to your plate.
- Replace a lunchtime soda with a glass of water.
- Put on sneakers. Half the battle is getting ready. Flip-flops don’t lend themselves to physical activity.
- Replace an afternoon caffeine jolt with a piece of citrus fruit or a quick walk up and down the stairs. You’ll get healthy energy without side-effects.
So many people are overwhelmed by efforts required for self-improvement. You don’t need an overhaul of your lifestyle. Simple improvements go a long way, including in making you feel better about yourself. Healthy habits beget healthy habits.
Once you start taking steps in the direction of self-confidence, taking care of yourself will come naturally. Filled with respect for all you are and all you have to offer others, you’ll be ready to commit to your health.
Recognition that you are worthy of a regular and satisfying workout is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Exercise empowers us. It takes the body and mind to great heights, perhaps previously thought impossible. Self-doubts are lifted as you swim the extra lap or throw the extra round of kickboxing jabs. The outcome is an improved inner and outer appearance.
Improvements will transcend any weight loss or muscle gain. Suddenly, the spirit within will be truly self-satisfied. The person reflected in the mirror will shine from the inside out.
“Do You Value Yourself Enough to Exercise?” by Paige Waehner at www.about.com.
Self-portrait with camera: © Darren Green at www.dreamstime.com
Critical exam: © Adam Borkowski at www.dreamstime.com