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.


Self-care series: Your natural energy source

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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Tina was ready to give up on any efforts to lose weight. She had been doing everything she should, but her weight didn’t budge. When she came to me, I asked her why she wanted to lose weight and she told me she was diagnosed with pre-diabetes and it scared her. She wanted to lose weight to be healthy and well, but she was ready to throw in the towel. She desperately needed energy and motivation to exercise.  

What ultimately motivates us to do something or avoid it comes from the interplay of the four parts of our internal ‘self’. How something makes you feel mentally, physically, and emotionally are all clues about what is important to you. When you are highly motivated, all these parts of you are energized. When you are not motivated, all these parts of you feel a bit sluggish. What creates that energy?  

At the heart of your motives, or the energy that moves you to take action, is your spiritual self. Whether you have a spiritual practice or not, you have a spirit that informs you about what is most important, at your core (literally and figuratively). The simplified word for this is your Why.  Simon Sinek highlights how important it is for people and companies to know their Why.  Let’s consider what happens when we apply it to exercise for health and well-being.  

When the energy from your Why is missing, exercise feels like a should’: weighted, sluggish, with that ‘drag your feet and roll your eyes’ kind of motivation. When exercise is clearly  connected to what is most important to you—your Why—you feel energized, it’s exciting, with that ‘yes! I really want that!’ kind of motivation. For exercise to be a form of self-care, it needs to tap into this part of you that is your natural energy source. 

When Tina and I chatted more about what it meant to be healthy and well, her whole appearance changed. She described how she used to love to sing and act in local theatre productions, but she got away from that when her career took off. As important as it was to avoid diabetes, exercising solely for that reason felt like a should, and it was adding to her stress. When we redefined being healthy and well as having the ability to do the things she loved again, like acting, everything shifted. Her spirits lifted, her mood lightened and her energy soared. Suddenly, exercising for her Why gave her energy to take care of her whole person.  

Bottom line: ‘Should’ leads to stress, Why leads to well. When any part of exercise feels like a ‘should’, it’s a huge warning sign that it is disconnected from your spiritual well-being and thus will not feel like self-care. When you know how exercising is connected to your Why, even the thought of exercise gives you that tingle of excitement and energy and you are on your way to using exercise as a source of self-care. 



PS: the WELL part of Exercising WELL is an acronym for a four step method we use to take your Why and put it into action.  Stay tuned! Enrollment will be opening at the end of December so you can start your year off by tapping into the energy of your Why by Exercising WELL.

Cardio: beyond your heart

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In abbreviating the name used for cardiovascular exercise to just cardio, some confusion has arisen about what cardiovascular exercise is. Because the word cardio means heart, and heart rate is used during cardiovascular exercise, the common thought is that cardio is about strengthening your heart. We often refer to good cardio as ‘getting your heart rate up’.

Let’s take a little stroll through what happens in your body when you do cardio and see if there is more to cardio than its name implies.

The start of movement: When you start moving, your brain initiates the action by sending messages to your muscles to move. Therefore, cardio starts in, depends on, and changes your brain and nervous system.

The fuels: As your muscles start to move, they need fuel. There are two main systems for producing fuel for muscles: a long-acting, with-oxygen (aerobic) system and a short-acting, without-oxygen (anaerobic) system.

Since oxygen is carried by the blood, and at rest, only about 20% of your blood flow goes to your muscles,  when you start to move your body has to shift your blood flow to those muscles. It takes a few minutes for your muscles to get enough oxygen to use the longer-lasting system for fuel production. So for about the first three minutes of movement, your muscles get their fuel from carbohydrates stored right in the muscles.

Once your body redirects more blood to your muscles, your body can use the longer-lasting, with-oxygen system to keep you moving. This system uses mainly a combination of fats and carbohydrates to fuel muscles. But to do that, it needs the oxygen sent to it from the lungs, pumped through the heart, and transported through your blood vessels.

The equipment: Once your muscles are using the aerobic system for fueling your muscles, you are able to sustain that movement as long as that system has the equipment and fuels it needs. The equipment includes enzymes, mitochondria in cells, glucose, and blood supply, just to name just a few.

Use it to keep it: This equipment is kept sharp by use. If it is not used regularly, it starts to fade. In fact, this starts to happen after just three days of not doing a cardiovascular-type exercise. (If you are on bedrest, it happens even sooner.) This is why cardiovascular exercise is recommended at least three days a week to keep this equipment sharp and working well.

The heart: When the muscles are moving, they are contracting and pressing against your veins. This continuous, rhythmic movement helps the blood travel back to your heart after your muscles have used the oxygen and nutrients they need for that activity. When that blood comes back to the heart, it causes a little stretch in the heart muscle. Think about a balloon filled up with air without tying it. If that balloon has a little bit of air and you let it go, it does not go very far. But if that balloon is filled with a lot of air, and you let it go, it has power to go all over the room. When your heart fills with more blood, that stretch causes it to contract harder. Just like the balloon filled with air, the more blood that returns to your heart, the stronger that contraction.

A stronger heart: This stronger contraction is what is making your heart muscle stronger. The more muscles that are moving, the more blood gets sent back to your heart for that little stretch and stronger contraction. Moving your fingers continuously would send just a very small amount of blood back to your heart. Dancing using your arms and legs sends a much greater volume of blood to strengthen your heart.

Way beyond heart rate: Many things get your heart rate up—stress, caffeine, medications, even just thinking about exercise—but that does not make your heart and cardiovascular system stronger. What makes something good cardio is this challenge to your whole cardiovascular system. Every part of that system gets stronger when you do continuous movement using a large amount of muscles at a level you can sustain.

That sustainably of movement is what makes something cardio. There is much information about how hard you should push your body when doing cardio. I’ll talk about this aspect of cardio in the next blog.

The Win-Win Special ENDS at MIDNIGHT

The Win-Win Special ENDS at MIDNIGHT tonight.

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  1. Make a $45 tax deductible donation to the Enjoy Life Education scholarship fund by the end of today, April 22, 2019.
  2. Email me the receipt at janet@ExercisingWELL.com.
  3. I will send you a coupon code to receive your first month of the Exercising WELL coaching program FREE.


Help a teen get more out of life through the

 The Enjoy Life Education Leadership Academy.

Get more out of exercise, so you get more out of life with 

Exercising WELL Coaching Program


Win by Building Inner Confidence

It’s pay-it-forward week at Exercising WELL and we are running a Win/Win Special.  From now until April 22nd, 2019, when you donate $45 to the Enjoy Life Education scholarship fund, you get your first month of the Exercising WELL Coaching Program FREE.  

Confidence can be reliant on external sources or it can be an inner sense of knowing your own strengths. Studies show inner confidence is much more reliable and resilient through the ups and downs of life1. When you take advantage of the Win/Win special, you help a teen build inner confidence through the Enjoy Life Leadership Academy and grow your own inner confidence that you know how to be Exercising WELL.

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Enjoy Life Leadership Academy

Students build confidence though a stronger sense positive self-worth. From the moment students enter the academy, they are encouraged to not only be who they are, but also celebrate who they are with confidence and pride. They not only do this for themselves, but for each other. Students are immersed in a culture of self-worth that builds a natural and lasting inner confidence. Check out this 60-second video to see how that is done.  

Exercising WELL Coaching Program

Exercise success often is measured by external sources, such as the scale, the activity monitor, or a fitness challenge. But studies show these external sources for confidence are like building a house on sand, washed away by the next stressful event in life. Through the Exercising WELL online programs and personalized weekly coaching, you learn research-backed strategies for being internally guided and self-motivated. You gain solid inner confidence for exercise that carries over to other habits for your health and well-being.

  1. What is the Self-Determination Theory of Motivation?