“I was living in the should and it was exhausting,’’ said a client last week. Her approach had always been about trying to do what she “should” to be healthy and fit. Gradually learning a mindful approach, she is now guided by her well-being vision and how her body responds to choices she is making.
With all the conflicting information floating around, we can get thrown off track by the should’s. I should … exercise more … push harder … be seeing more results … do more … be like … look like … be able to ____ ….
As a result, we might:
- distract the mind in order to just “get through a workout”
- find someone to push us through exercise sessions to make us stay motivated
- try to “trick the body” by pushing it harder to get results
- just give up, ignore the body, and avoid exercise altogether
Does this roller coaster of the “all or nothing” approach to exercise sound familiar? Motivation drains with every up and down, as the mind and body work against each other.
Healing the relationship between the mind and body requires a kind attention that builds trust. Instead of the body being like cumbersome baggage that gets in the way, the body becomes a trusted guide on this journey.
What should’s came up on your list from Activate it last week? Try replacing the word should with I really want to for each item. Which ones feel authentic? Which feel fake? When you have clarity about what you really want, healthy choices are all authentic.
Like the mission of a successful business, a well-being vision statement gets to the heart of why you are doing what you are doing for your well-being. Instead of should’s that drain your energy, this vision guides you in designing a movement program that is energizing each step of the way.
What does a mindful approach to exercise look like? When this client was considering signing up for a long road race in May, she first checked how this goal was in line with her well-being vision. It definitely lined up. Next, we discussed how she will know as training progresses if it becomes a ‘should’ rather than about her vision. She felt confident that staying mindful in each training session, she would trust her body. Whether she finished the race, reduced her goal, or let it go completely, she will be truly successful because she knows her own definition of success. She realized “when you listen to your body, it is clear.”
- Adopt a regular exercise for the brain that actually trains it to more easily care for the body. Direct kindness to your body in loving-kindness meditation – wishing it well, appreciating it, and paying mindful attention to all the ways it communicates what it needs moment by moment. Admittedly, it will feel a bit strange at first. However, it does actually change the brain and improve the relationship of the mind and body.
- Strip away the should’s and focus on what you know right now about what you really want. Start by completing these statements: I really want … to be able to ___, to feel ___, to have more ___. This is a starting point to guide an exercise plan that is sustainable and energizing.
Are you ready to get off the roller-coaster? Create your well-being vision in a Well-being Vision coaching session. This is an inspiring, motivating, and fun session that gives you the gift of a powerful guide on the way to activating your well-being . Contact me to find out more.
May You Be Well,
Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CHWC
Clinical Exercise Physiologist
Health and Wellness Coach
Yoga and Meditation Teacher
Photo: inspiring artwork by Susan O’Malley