October 9, 2012

The Lost Art of Doing What You Love to Do

The theme of my week has been in understanding motivation, goal-setting, and being happy content as you go about it.  I've had a few situations with members at 24Hr in the past week, as well as in personal life, that have made me think about why it is we try to achieve these things in our society that will potentially make us happy.  Sometimes we make our goals and sometimes our goals are too hard to reach.  But in either case, achieving them or not does not make us feel the way we thought when we set our goals in the first place.

This is a great theme to discuss for fitness and weight loss.  I feel like anyone can relate to this topic, whether you are 140lbs trying to lose a stubborn few (or gaining muscle!) or 400lbs and trying to figure out where to even start because the task seems too great.  I've seen many a gym member in my day (love you all!) to see this theme come to life.  So many people are fit, healthy, and motivated.  But I would bet that they are in the gym mostly because they fear what could happen if they stopped working out.  Let the battle of the bulge begin!  Many people work out because they are in the process of losing weight (after how many days of beating yourself down, I wonder?).

My point is, it is NOT about working out to achieve a physical status that you are HAPPY with.  That will keep you at a stagnant feeling of hatred towards fitness and your body.  You hate your body because it makes you have to spend hours at the gym, when you could be doing so many other things.  Too many people I've seen have reached their weight loss and body image goals and then they feel lost because they don't know how to stop or because they feel pressure to keep their new weight.

This is where goal re-shaping needs to come into play.

I just read (this morning!) an article from my favorite fitness blog by Charlotte Hilton-Anderson called, The Great Fitness Experiment, that is all about HAPPINESS.  And then it struck me just how important happiness is for everyone to achieve, but unfortunately it is simply a wisp of wind we cannot catch.  Her article talks about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation.  Are you trying to achieve your goal because of wealth/status/perception or because it is simply 'inherently satisfying'?

A great example is running.  Do you run to lose weight or do you run because you love the feel of the wind on your face and the exhilarating challenge?  I ran the Platte River Half Marathon last April, and swear that I had an 'inner smile' the WHOLE way.  It was the hardest I've run, but I inherently LOVED every second of it.

What are you fitness goals?  Really?  Deep down, why do you do what you do?  Is it because you love doing it?  It makes you feel good?  Do you feel more energetic and maybe more put together throughout your day?  Or is it because you fear the pressure of looking good?  Maybe you think that you have never achieved that 'look' you see in your head?  Maybe you have given up?

My hope and challenge to everyone reading this, is that they find what intrinsically makes them happy AND helps them achieve their goals.

I love hiking and trail running.  It makes me happy.  It helps me feel strong, sexy, and alive in this world.  I don't have pressure of NOT attaining that perfect body or being the fittest person in the gym (which I will tell you is the biggest struggle as any trainer would tell you), because I can reach this point of contentment and pure thrill and happiness when I run in the beautiful foothills of Colorado.  I am content.

Ask yourself the hard questions of why you are motivated and how you can be motivated toward the right things, things that bring you peace and contentment, not false happiness.  Don't fake it.  Find purpose in what you do!

Here was the first image I saw when I googled "contentment":

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