Making Time For A Necessary Part Of Your Routine
Maintaining an active lifestyle and exercising is essential for overall health and well-being. This is especially true for those in recovery. This should come as no surprise to anyone reading this article. Why then, do so many people struggle to make time to exercise? Why is it so easy to skip the gym at the end of a long day? I will present you with three methods I have employed over the years to stay engaged with my fitness programs that will also help you to maintain a more active lifestyle.
Before exploring the three hacks for motivation, I want to dispell a myth about motivation so let’s examine what motivation is and what it isn’t. I define motivation as a temporary drive or ambition to accomplish a goal or task which is usually accompanied by a general sense of excitement about the goal. The myth I’d like to dispell is that motivation is an essential ingredient of accomplishment. In fact, motivation merely gets us moving toward a goal. It will not be sufficient to help us achieve it. Why is this you may be asking? The key word in the above definition is “temporary.” Feelings of motivation in a person most often last for no longer than 3-4 weeks. Therefore they cannot carry us to our fitness or any other goals. Motivation may get us to join a gym or sports league, but it doesn’t last long enough to adopt a change in lifestyle. How then are we to accomplish the goals we set for ourselves? Habit, fun, and connection. Read on to find out how these three words apply:
- Habit: There are many great quotes about habit my favorite was written long ago by Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Success is not an action but a habit.” Our habits unconscious or otherwise form the very foundation of the life we end up experiencing. All animals on this planet by their nature seek to expend the least energy possible to get the greatest reward. This fact makes it easier to maintain bad habits than to replace them with good ones. In fact, if we do not consciously choose to adopt the habits that move us closer to our goals, we will have unconsciously accepted the habits which don’t. The first step in forming the habit of having an active lifestyle is to choose to move in that direction consciously. Next, we need to create one or more SMART goals. That is goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Too often we approach fitness with the mindset of wanting to “get in shape,” “lose a few pounds,” or to “get stronger.” While these are all reasonable ambitions they are not specific, measurable, or time-bound and therefore they are not achievable. They are doomed from the start. Instead, we want to be very specific in our vision for example; I will lose 15 pounds by September 23, or I will run a 4:00 marathon in the marathon in October. Assuming these goals are achievable in the time allotted they are good specific goals. When setting goals, we make an inner commitment to ourselves that we will see that part of the journey through. If you are just starting out on your journey to fitness, I suggest setting goals with a 60-90 day time horizon. Most studies have found that it takes between 45-60 days of consistent effort to form a habit. By the time your first set of goals have run their course you will have developed the habit of being active.
- Fun: Being active should be fun. It should very rarely if ever feel like work. Instead, it should feel like play. If you are having fun engaging in an activity, you are substantially more likely to keep participating. If you love running then, by all means, do it. If however, like most of us, you find running to be some sort of controlled torture (just kidding, runners I love you), it would be wise to discover an activity you truly enjoy. From a physiological and neurobiological point of view what is important is to elevate your heart rate to the 65%-85% of max heart rate for at least 150 minutes per week. This level of exertion is experienced as breathing heavy without being winded. Or if you are thinking “this is hard, but I could do it for a while” you are most likely in the right zone. Nowhere in any research, I have ever come across does it specify what type of exercise one needs to partake in. If you love the gym, go to the gym. Love the outdoors, go for a hike, or a swim, or rock climbing. The key is that you enjoy what you are doing. Find an activity you love, and it will never feel like work again, it will feel like play.
- Connection: Human beings have evolved to function within communities and to crave connection with others. It is one of our most basic drives. We can leverage this to our advantage in trying to adopt an active lifestyle. Find a community to join and become a part of it. Team sports are fantastic for this, so are martial arts, hiking clubs, CrossFit Boxes, etc. When part of a community we get support and motivation from those around us. They are there to celebrate our victories and to support us after defeats. As we develop relationships with others, we begin to feel a deeper connection to the activity itself making it harder not to show up. The desire to show up for others is often stronger than the desire to show up for ourselves. As a part of a community of people who share similar interests, we form relationships that enrich us not just in our chosen activity but throughout our entire lives.
I hope that these motivation hacks are helpful and encourage some of our readers to pursue a more active lifestyle and to stick with it. The mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of being active are so many and so profound they should not be missed by anyone. Consciously choose to have the life you want, as our friend Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Success is not an action but a habit.” Create the success you desire.
We at Granite Mountain BHC are here to help. If we can help answer any questions or concerns, please reach out. We can be contacted through our website or by phone at 844-878-3221.