Unleashing Your Natural Motivation for Exercising

With all great reasons to exercise, why are we not more motivated?  Because reasons like heart health and weight loss don’t connect exercise strongly enough to our natural motivation to do what we love, with those we love.  Check out how this natural motivation was unleashed for one client recently,  and learn how you can unleash your natural motivation for exercising too in the Exercising WELL tip of the week.

 

Exercising for whole-person self-care

Self-care series summary: As we enter the season of giving and a time of year when many people struggle not only with getting enough exercise, but also with keeping up with self-care, we have been taking a deeper dive into how to make exercise a form of self-care. We have looked at self-care from all aspects of your ‘self’—mental, emotional, spiritual to make exercise more than just a physical activity.  Today we summarize how to design exercise as a way to recharge your whole person, so you can be well now. 

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This time of year can be filled with unique events and opportunities to gather, celebrate, and reflect. At this point in the season, we might start to simplify the to do list. We compare what needs to be done with the resources we have available right now, like time, money and energy, to get it done. It’s a simple way we stay well.  

The taproot of all those resources is your inner state of well-being—your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical state. They are the ones that feed the outer resources of your environment, finances, relationships, and vocation. When you have physical energy, mental focus, emotional strength and spiritual clarity, those outer resources flourish. This is how well-being happens, from the inside out. When we try to be well from the outside in, it is stressful because we don’t have as much control over the state of the outer resources. 

With all that’s going on at this time of year, how can you practice self-care? Remember, self-care is any moment you take time to check in and tend to those inner resources and exercise is one way to do that.

However, exercise in our culture is focused on athletic and aesthetic forms of exercise. When life is busy and stressful, you might feel like there’s no point to exercise if you can’t do ‘enough’ to make it ‘worth it’ to see results.  Don’t let this sideline you so you miss out on the many ways you can use exercise as a resource for self-care!

When you redefine exercise as a moment of your day to pause, check in on the state of your inner resources, move in a way that clears emotions held in your body, and remind yourself what is most important, it becomes whole-person self-care. 

Use the information in this blog series and your Inner Trainer as a guide to exercise for self-care:

Spiritually: When exercise is designed to strengthen your connection to what is most important in your life right now, it becomes a moment in your day to restore your spiritual well-being.  

Mentally: When exercise is designed to satisfy your brain’s need to keep you safe, contented, and connected, it is a moment in your day to restore your mental well-being. 

Emotionally: When exercise is done with presence, allowing you to listen to the messages your body is giving you and move in ways that clear the thoughts held in your body, it is a moment in your day to restore emotional well-being.

When exercise is redefined as a way to restore your whole-person, it becomes a moment in your day that restores well-being, thus supporting physical and mental health. 

So, as you check in on this mid-December day, move in some way, big or small, with presence, to bring your inner well-being resources back into balance. Trust your Inner Trainer to guide you as you move to be well now. 

Bottom Line: When you redefine exercise as a moment of your day to pause, check in on the state of your inner resources, move in a way that clears emotions held in your body, and come back to what is most important, it becomes whole-person self-care. 

Be Well Now,

Janet

P.S. In two weeks, I will share with you more details about how to design exercise to be a moment in your day to be well now. In the mean time, connect with me on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for daily reminders to move and be well now.  

 

 

 

Self care series: Exercising for emotional well-being

Self-care series: As we enter the season of giving and a time of year when many people struggle not only with getting enough exercise, but also with keeping up with self-care, let’s take a deeper dive into how to make exercise a form of self-care.  To do that, we need to look at self-care from all aspects of your ‘self’—mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual and how to design exercise as a way to recharge your whole person, so you can be well now. 

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If someone sent you a message that said, “I need to tell you something important”, what would you do? Well, if it was from a business trying to get you to buy something, chances are you would ignore it. If it were a trusted friend, you would contact them right away.  

Emotional well-being is not about feeling great all the time, it’s about listening to your emotions because you know they are important messages about your well-being.  

If you think about eating a lemon, your mouth will probably start to water. If you think of being in your happy place, your body will probably relax. This is because thoughts are immediately felt in our body. Sometimes it is subtle, sometimes it is overwhelming, but what you think is always felt in your body.  

This happens through is a vast network of superhighways that run from your brain to every corner of your body through nerve cells. They are continually sharing information back and forth about the state of your well-being. Brain to body, body back to the brain, faster than you can blink. They communicate the degree to which you are are safe, contented, and connected. 

These three qualities of well-being we discussed in the last part of this series are a simple way to think about mental well-being. When your brain perceives that there is a threat to your safety, contentment, or connection to others, it signals to your body that there is a problem. Instantly the thought creates changes in your body to let you know there is a problem. At the same time, it prepares your body to take care of the problem. This is how your brain and body work together to keep you well.  

But if the ‘problem’ is a critical email from your boss, or your clothes feeling tight from a week of holiday parties, those changes in your body to take action won’t help you solve the problem, they may even make things worse. A negative stress response can limit creativity and self-control and send a surge of cortisol into your body, telling it to store fat in case this ‘problem’ leads to a lack of food in the future.  

We cannot change the way we are hardwired to handle stress. Your nervous system is hardwired to prepare for movement when there is a threat to your sense of safety, contentment, and connection. We can, however, listen closely to our emotions, knowing they are important messages about our well-being. As licensed psychologist and author Guy Winch, PhD shares in this powerful TED talk, when we see emotional hygiene as essential as washing our hands when around someone who is ill, we can truly be well.   We can choose to respond to emotions like we would to a trusted friend who sends us an urgent message—immediately with kindness and care.  

Yet, we often forget that those emotions prepare our bodies for movement. Moving with kindness is like washing your hands to clear away germs. When you perceive exercise as something you should do, hanging over your head like another task on your to do list, you miss the chance for it to restore emotional well-being. When you think of exercise as a moment in your day to check in and clear the effects of thoughts stored in your body, you are using exercise as a valuable form of self-care for your whole person.  

Bottom Line: Exercise, when done as an act of self-care, leads to emotional well-being. It gives you a chance to check in, listen to the messages, and respond by giving your body the movement it needs to clear the thoughts held in your body as emotions.  

Be Well Now,

Janet

Exercising WELL gives you a whole toolbox of user-friendly ways to exercise to restore well-being in your own personalized way.  Start by clarifying your Why for exercise in a FREE coaching call with me. No strings. No commitment. Just a conversation that lets you unleash your natural motivation to be well now.  Click here to schedule your call. 

Self-care series: Exercising for mental well-being

Self-care series: As we enter the season of giving and a time of year when many people struggle not only with getting enough exercise, but also with keeping up with self-care, let’s take a deeper dive into how to make exercise a form of self-care.  To do that, we need to look at self-care from all aspects of your ‘self’—mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual and how to design exercise as a way to recharge your whole person, so you can be well now.  

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In the most recent article of this series, we made the connection between exercise and self-care for spiritual well-being. When your reasons for exercise are brought to their most elemental level of what is important to you (your Why), exercise is more energizing and motivation is more natural. Exercising for self-care starts with your Why as a guide to choose what to do for exercise so it supports your mental well-being. 

Your brain is hardwired to keep you well and it is constantly learning about what restores well-being for you. Each time you do something, your brain decides if it is worth doing again because it made you feel better, or if it is better to avoid because it made you feel worse.  

If you are going to choose exercise as a form of self-care, you need to choose exercise  in a way that restores your mental well-being. Rick Hanson, PhD gives a simplified way of understanding what your brain is looking for to keep you well. Your mind continuously seeks ways for you to be safe, contented, and connected. Use this checklist to apply that wisdom to exercise, to determine if what you are doing, or are planning on doing, for exercise will lead to whole-person well-being.   

Safe

Physically: what I do for exercise reduces my chances of injury and illness, and makes me feel more confident I can protect myself and others in an emergency.

Spiritually: what I do for exercise makes me feel free to be myself. 

Content

Physically: what I do for exercise leaves me feeling better and more comfortable in my body now.

Spiritually: what I do for exercise allows me to do the things that make my life meaningful and to enjoy my passions. 

Connected

Physically: what I do for exercise allows me to connect with people I care about.  

Spiritually: what I do for exercise keeps me connected or grounded in my sense of who I am and what is most important to me in life. 

If there is something you are doing, or think you should be doing, for exercise that takes you away from this, it is lowering the health benefits of exercise because it is taking you away from self-care and your brain is more likely to make excuses like ‘you don’t have time’ or ‘you can’t do that exercise right now’. When what you do for exercise satisfies each one of these criteria, every time you exercise, your brain senses you are well. This puts your body in healing and repair mode and your brain wants you to keep doing it again and again.  

If you go down this checklist and say ‘sure, exercise would do all of that for me, but why am I still not motivated to do it?’, it means your brain isn’t making the connection between what you are doing and feeling feeling safe, contented, and connected. That’s why an essential part to making this work is staying aware of what you are getting from exercise. Rick Hanson calls it “taking in the good”. Your brain is hardwired to notice what is missing and skip over what is going well. This tendency toward the negative is there to keep us safe, so it takes a bit of extra effort to help your brain see when exercise is putting you in a state of whole-person well-being. 

What to do for exercise so it leads to mental well-being varies from person to person and situation to situation. Because life is full of changes, you need a way to stay up-to-date about how to exercise in the way that leads to mental well-being. How you feel and what you sense in your body is what we call feelings or emotions. They are your built-in feedback loop to the brain about your state of mental well-being. The next part of this series on exercise as self-care will explore how to use this by exercising for emotional well-being. 

Bottom line: Exercise becomes self-care when we let our Why guide what we do to be well now. Understanding mental well-being allows us to make this connection between our Why (spiritual well-being) and what we choose what to do for exercise. When it satisfies your brain’s need to keep you safe, contented, and connected, exercise becomes a form of whole-person self-care.  

Bonus! Click here for a Recharge Pause™ called Moving Gratitude. It takes Rick Hanson’s practice of ‘taking in the good’ and brings it from your mind into your body.   Experience how exercise (AKA Movement for self-care), in under two minutes, can restore your sense of being safe, contented and connected in your mind and your body. Enjoy!

Be Well Now,

Janet

Exercising WELL gives you a whole toolbox of user-friendly ways to exercise to restore well-being in your own personalized way.  Start by clarifying your Why for exercise in a FREE coaching call with me. No strings. No commitment. Just a conversation that lets you unleash your natural motivation to be well now.  Click here to schedule your call.