“I need to do more exercise but I just don’t have the motivation.”
Does this sound like you?
I hear this a lot. Many women feel like it is motivation that let’s them down when it comes to keeping fit. Some women find it’s just not that appealing to begin with, and they think the force of willpower or “kick up the butt” is what’s required to beat themselves into submission. For others, they would love to do some exercise, but then they find that work and family responsibility weigh them down, making it hard to get going.
What happens next
Reflecting on these feelings women then conclude that they are not motivated enough. I used to feel that way too. But when we begin to understand motivation at a neurological level we realise that it’s not that simple, and it’s not a permanent ailment either.
The presence of motivation in the human brain
We are all intrinsically motivated. From birth we are wired for struggle. We must learn how to feed, how to communicate and how to move. This is all a huge challenge for a newborn baby, which is why we are born with motivation. Something we probably better recognise as the desire to survive and thrive. We drive ourselves forward all through life – learning , developing, growing, recovering, healing, building bridges and nurturing our families and ourselves. None of this would happen if we weren’t motivated! I’m sure you can look back over your life and find examples when you felt strong motivation driving you forward.
“Yes, but I don’t seem to have motivation for exercise. It’s different!”
So, when we think we are not motivated for exercise, what we are really seeing is a disconnection in our minds. A disconnection between the behaviour of being physically active and our internal drive to survive and thrive. Living an active lifestyle is a core foundation to the survive and thrive goal we are all driven by, so why does this disconnect happen? Something is happening at a sub-conscious level to tell ourselves’ it’s ok to drop physical activity to the bottom of the priority list. It’s not a lack of motivation, but a lack of prioritisation that we are seeing. How does your priority list look? Work? Family? Other hobbies and interests? All of these elements have a key component, which is that the level of success/enjoyment you have in them is correlated with how well you are functioning as a human being. In other words, how fit, healthy, and well you are, determines how well you succeed at everything else. So why isn’t fitness and health at the top of your list? It supports everything else that you value.
How the sub-conscious can de-prioritise health
This sub-conscious disconnection can happen for many reasons. Here are a few of them:
1) The re-packaging and marketing of fitness as a ‘thing’ you have to buy, and is difficult to achieve without to support of special instructors
2) The perception of ‘exercise’ created in school PE lessons, with and without unpleasant memories of how you felt at the time, but always with a sense that exercise has a certain structure and needs to be done in a certain way
3) The internal emotional build up through the day and the week that drives our instincts to seek quick fixes to numb the pain, so we reach for food, drink and sedentary activities to deliberately dis-connect from our uncomfortable feelings. We imagine trying to do exercise will add to the suffering (reference points 1 and 2)
The truth about motivation
So in summary, I don’t believe that any woman doesn’t have enough motivation for exercise, but it’s how we perceive ourselves and how we perceive the ‘challenge’ of improving our fitness that stands in our way and leads us to decisions that hold us back. I work with women at a deeper, more emotional level, than you will find in any gym or personal trainer session. I would help you explore your feelings around exercise and making healthy choices, and then I help you to re-define how you see yourself and the challenge so you can re-assess that priority list and begin moving forward at a pace that is comfortable for you. I know you have the motivation to create a healthier, happier life for yourself where you can thrive. I can help you harness the strength that you have and begin to turn your life around to face the direction where you want to go.
About the Author:
Diane Brown is an Exercise Psychology Coach specialising in helping women to get moving and regain their fitness through an active lifestyle. You can join her FREE 5 day Active Wellbeing Challenge which begins on 21st September. Find all the details at www.facebook.com/fitbee.co.uk