But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can create your own vision. One thing I’ve found helpful in doing so is analyzing what you want out of your fitness routine.
Take out a pen and paper and write down the things that are most important to you when it comes to your fitness and health, including your mental health. What values do you think of when you think of health and well-being? How are you best motivated? Think of a time when you really enjoyed exercise (or even just moving) and reflect on what was going on. Start to develop your vision so you have a clear understanding of what works for you and what doesn’t.
For many businesses, developing a mission statement helps keep them on brand. It can do the same for you. What is your wellness mission and brand?
2. Reflect on what feels good and brings you joy.
We must enjoy the movement we are doing in order for it to be sustainable. We can’t hate running and expect for it to stick. But because of fitness idealism—what kind of workout you think you should be doing—many of us have participated in things we don’t enjoy.
If you’ve lost your joy for exercise, think back to your childhood and recall your favorite ways to move back then when it may have felt less loaded.
Maybe you loved team sports. I just joined a soccer team this year in my 40s! Maybe you loved swimming. A few years ago, I took adult swimming lessons to improve my stroke for a triathlon. You can find activities or workout types that mimic the same things you loved about physical activity as a kid. There may be some trial and error, but take note of how you feel after each activity and do more of what makes you happy and excited to do it again.
3. Establish your “why.”
There is definitely a honeymoon period to most fitness routines, where it’s all sunshine and unicorns. But then the fitness reality sets in, and we start to understand that establishing a routine means suiting up even when we may not really want to. The idea is to stay consistent.
Establishing a solid “why” or motive to your action is essential for those days when it’s tough to get going.
Think about what is motivating you to start. You may wish for the confidence to say yes to a hike or a kayaking trip and trust your body will be able to do it. On the other hand, it can be watching a parent in poor health that motivates you or wanting to be able to keep up with your kids. Maybe you just want to feel good in the skin you’re in. What is it that drives you to move?
4. Understand that our bodies evolve.
We can’t turn back time, no matter what Cher wishes. Our bodies are evolving, expanding, shrinking, birthing, and aging, and that is okay.
In order for us to have a healthy relationship with movement, we have to stop putting harsh demands and expectations on our bodies if they don’t perform or look as they used to. It’s unrealistic and unfair to ourselves. Our bodies are amazing and deserve their due respect.
I’ve found that simply telling yourself to understand this, though, isn’t the most effective way to drive it home. But these actions have been helpful:
- Follow social media accounts of people with similar body types and ages as yours. Get inspired by people who are killing it who share a likeness to you. Learn to celebrate your body as it is now.
- Write love letters (positive affirmations) about your body and post them where you can see them daily. They can be as short as one word—“strong,” “warrior,” “capable”—or longer in length, you decide.
- Take a moment at the end of each day to reflect on how your body moved that day. Give thanks and gratitude for your body for showing up.
5. Celebrate non-scale victories.
You don’t have to “earn” food with movement—it’s not a nourishment reward system. It’s important to not make weight loss the goal of starting or sticking with movement. It can create a fleeting relationship with moving our bodies, and that’s not what we want!