With all the excuses we find to not workout, what does it take to find reasons to exercise? Even someone like myself, a fitness professional, struggles with finding motivation to get my butt to the gym or to stay longer at my job and actually do it.
I remember starting this journey over 20 years ago, fighting my parents about going to martial arts classes. They would make me go; constantly reminding me that once I got there I would have a good time. And, as always, they were right. Over the years I’ve heard every excuse imaginable to avoid the gym or to skip a training session. A client once told me it was more important to get ice cream than to come to her session. Granted, she was getting ice cream with her kids, I’ll be the first to admit the importance of family time. Somehow, I still couldn’t wrap my head around that “reason.” Isn’t it more important to have a healthy mom who doesn’t develop diabetes, isn’t it more important to set a healthy example for your children? I know it is for me.
Regardless of how busy we are our personal health, both physical and mental have to come first. There was a time when going to the gym was my whole life, and then real life took over. And there have been times in my life where the gym wasn’t my first priority. Yet, in the back of my mind I‘ve always known if I don’t take care of myself first, I’m no good to anyone else.
For me the gym has become less about competing in sports or looking my best, but rather my quality of life? I want to be healthy, to live longer, to not have diabetes, or cancer, or develop Alzheimer’s. I want to be able to play with my son, hike the mountains, and keep up with my friends, live life to its fullest. And yes, sometimes I like to cut loose and have fun with friends and family that doesn’t involve doing anything physical.
As we age our priorities shift from vanity to longevity, or at least one would hope. It doesn’t really matter if you go to the gym to socialize, to find a date, to stare at the cute trainer, or to just avoid the rest of your life and have some personal time. Whatever your “why” it’s a good thing. If your why is to have a washboard stomach or to not have back pain, then go for it. We each have a responsibility to ourselves and our loved ones to take care of our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. On Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” some of these reasons fit our most basic emotional needs, some fit into our physical needs, but when we truly understand our why, our driving force, this is called self-actualization. Every human being must come to a sense of who they are and why they do the things we do. For each of us the why is truly more important than the what.
If you are like the rest of the world and struggle with finding motivation to move and be fit, ask yourself, “Why do I go to work? Why do I get out of bed in the morning?” And believe it or not, the answers to those questions can be the same to my original question. Why workout? Because it makes me a better person, it helps me be a little bit better than I was the day before, it helps me be a better husband, wife, father, mother, and it makes me capable of providing. Because loving myself so much that I take care of myself allows me to fully love others. That’s my why, and if you dig deep enough, and ask yourself why you do it, you might find your answer to be the same.