It’s an odd comparison, I know, but it’s true. When I run, I feel good simply for having made a healthy choice–and I feel even better after the deed has been done (sore muscles and all). Likewise, it feels good when I give my wife flowers, and even better when she shows her appreciation.
However, the problem is that both actions occur too few and too far in between. As much as I enjoy doing them, and as much as I know they are good things to do, I’m not always motivated.
So how did I go from a once fit guy to a couch potato to a frequent competitor in 5K events? I did it by redefining my fitness identity, my fitness goals, and my fitness motivation.
Redefine your fitness identity. I used to be a competitive sprinter (in my teens) and I used to be gym rat in college. But times and circumstances have changed: My circumstances don’t afford me the time to spend all day in the gym; and my older body is much better suited for the long haul than a drag race. So I’ve learned to embrace the new me: an older man, a husband, a father, and a full-time employee who makes time to exercise at 5 AM in the morning before the kids wake up and run 2 to 3 miles during his lunch break at work.
Redefine your competition/challenge. No matter how you look at it, fitness is a competitive venture. Either you enter athletic events with the goal of winning, or you work out in the gym with the goal of losing weight, gaining muscle, or to address some other physical and health challenge. As a competitive sprinter, I didn’t always win. And I was never a competitive distance runner, so I don’t expect to win any 5K event I enter. Now, I race against myself, by aiming to outdo my personal best times.
Redefine your purpose. My first ever 5K was 2 years ago in a local, annual Autism Speaks 5K charity event. My daughter has autism, and my wife and I thought we should step out of our situation to connect with others who we could relate to and to advocate for a cause that was personal for us. Completing that 5K made me believe I could do anything! And since then, I’ve run more than 8 charity races, including a 10K trail run in the cold of late October (it was murderous!) Up next: a half marathon–and perhaps the previously unthinkable, a full marathon!
To summarize: Accept and adapt to your circumstances; Win by improving; and get fit for a purpose or reason beyond your own self fulfillment.
What motivates you to get and stay fit?