If you’re struggling to make real progress in your fitness goals, or if you find yourself falling off the wagon over and over again, you’re missing something.
Your fitness routine is missing a foundational element, one that keeps your workouts humming along and you at the top of your game, even when life threatens to run you over. It’s not an exercise or a schedule or a rep pattern. Nor is it a new supplement or a new app. It’s not even motivation. Think deeper than that. Bigger.
What’s missing from your workouts is Purpose.
Everyone knows someone who is all-in with their fitness. They are always prepared with their gym bag (I know a woman who keeps a backup in her car*, just in case). They get up early and run five miles. They are regular gym-goers. They spend their weekends doing obstacle course runs, or Fit Games, or marathons. They build their vacations around races or strenuous activities like rock-climbing. They self-identify as active, as workout-nuts, as athletes. They know their purpose.
Then there’s the rest of us.
Many struggle to stick with a well-rounded fitness routine. In a report released earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 21.7% of Americans met physical activity guidelines for cardio and strength-training in 2016, while 51.7% were able to meet the cardio recommendations.
Then there’s the #resolutionfail effect. If “lose weight and get in shape” was your New Year’s resolution (again) this year, odds are stacked high that you gave that up a few months back, just like 54% of others sharing that goal.
The sad fact is, only 8% of people that set out to lose weight with a workout program finish successfully.
So what’s the difference? What separates Gung-Ho Grace from Ho-Hum Hannah?
We know it’s not desire; when 173 students were asked if they wanted to exercise more, only two indicated they had no interest. Most of us want it. Indeed, most of us want it bad enough. But when it comes to exercise outcomes, our “it” simply isn’t compelling enough to motivate us to stick with our workouts when the rest of life makes it difficult.
“It” is your Purpose.
*an excellent strategy, by the way.
P is for Purpose.
What is YOUR Purpose?
Your purpose needs to be deeply meaningful to you, because it’s what your goals will be based on. Even if you have a clear goal for your program – lose “x” pounds in “y” days – it can get tough to continue, especially if your goal looms like a carrot dangling just out of reach. Your purpose is not your goal, but the reason you have set the goal.
Your purpose is your “why.” Why do you want to lose weight/get fit/improve your health? You need an extremely clear, precise reason to undertake the lifestyle change necessary to sustain your results. This reason – your purpose – will be your guiding light through your journey, especially when the path seems less clear. It needs to be something personally motivating, something intrinsic to your authentic experience.
Do you need to be your best self for your family, your business, your career? Do you want to look sleek and sexy for a special event, and then for the rest of your life afterwards? Do you need to lower your fasting blood glucose, tame your blood lipid profile, and escape the cage of overweight? Do you want to feel truly at peace with your body, and at home in your own skin?
Whatever your purpose is, it is YOURS. It motivates you from within and can continue motivating you daily to live your healthiest life possible.
My deepest motivator – my purpose – has always been to make my outside appearance reflect my inner strength, and to ensure that my body is as strong and agile as my spirit. This purpose motivates me, because I know that when my body is strong and healthy, my spirit is unhindered and strengthened by my physical strength, and my mind is clear and able to process information at a rapid pace.
I recognize that I am a multifaceted being, and that all my parts work together to make the whole Me. That means that making one part healthier strengthens the other parts by making me want to nourish each facet separately, and all facets holistically. In other words, nourishing my body with whole foods, efficient sleep, and energizing movement makes me also want to learn more and spend time in reflection and meditation.
I have other motivators — such as my genetic profile and family history, and my desire to stay active and vibrant for a long time to come. But knowing how regular exercise sets off a virtuous cycle of holistic self-care that comes naturally has always been the strongest driver for this right-now, results-driven girl.
THAT is true, whole-person health. And my purpose.
That is the only way to build a lifestyle of healthy rituals. It all starts with a solid, guiding purpose. Any weight loss plan is easy to stick to at first. It’s exhilarating to watch the scale tick down, to start feeling better as your body begins working better without the excess calories and added sugars bogging down your systems. As people start noticing your efforts – complimenting your healthy glow, your energy levels and good mood, asking if you’ve lost weight – they add external motivation to stay the course. But as you get closer to your goals, or enter maintenance, as all the excitement has waned and the New You becomes the Normal You, your purpose will keep you on track.
Clarify your purpose
Write it down. Memorize it. Speak it over yourself every day and every night. Use it to prioritize your daily tasks. Above all, make sure your purpose – your guiding light – resonates so deeply with you that it will not let you go.
Use these questions to help you dig in to your purpose. (And by “dig in,” I mean, really go deep, so you can find the vein of gold that’ll center your efforts.)
- Why have I attempted to lose weight or get fit previously?
- What event(s) or situation(s) caused me to lose focus? Why?
- How important is my physical fitness to me? What priority does it take in my life?
- Is my health suffering because of my level of fitness? How?
- How will getting fit impact my mental and emotional health?
- How will getting fit affect my work? My relationships? My self-image?
- What has kept me from committing to a healthy lifestyle change?
- What makes this time different?
- Do I deserve to be healthy? Do I deserve to eat well, regardless of expense or effort?
- Do I deserve time to exercise my body?
- Do I deserve to spend quality time focusing on restorative sleep?
- Do my loved ones deserve to have me at my best in their lives?
My objective with this thought experiment is that you will truly discover how worthy you are. You are so precious, so valuable, and it’s time for you to live like it! You take care of everyone else in your life because they deserve it, because you love them. You deserve the same nurturing attention from yourself.
L’oreal had it right all along. And now I want to hear you say it, too: