I have been working towards a more sustainable life lately, and I'm doing pretty well. I keep my buying impulses to a minimum, and we are getting much better at not throwing away food. The other day thought, I was thinking: what about sustainability on the inside? Sustainability of my body and my mind. One thing is to strive for longevity, but what about adding sustainability to the mix? Now, I know that physical and mental sustainability (and longevity) is a limited endeavor, we all go away eventually, but what about sustainability while we are here, in all periods of life? Sustainability when you are in your 20-ies would look very different to your 40-ies or 60-ies. And there is a difference between mental and physical sustainability. We will talk about the latter today.
The definition of sustainable is: "able to be maintained at a certain rate or level", and "able to be upheld or defended". So how would you do that in regards to your physical health? Well there is one obvious way: exercise. I know, you know, that everybody knows you should exercise. It is a given. It is obvious. But I think we have a warped idea of why we should exercise. The beauty industry keeps us very informed of the ideals we should all follow. Skinny, glowing skin, shiny hair, the right outfit, the right shoes, you name it. They even tell us where to live, what car to drive, where to travel, and how to be happy doing so (by spending more money). And they sell diets and exercise regimes, and it is all big business. But what if we all just took care of ourselves because it was good for us, and made us feel happy? What if we concerned ourselves with what made us feel good, rather than what made us look good? Because nothing is more demotivating than starting a new exercise plan at the beginning of the year, with big plans of improvement, and then three weeks or months later, the scale still shows the same number. You might not look any different, but how do you feel? How is your mood? Your sleep? Your energy? Have you checked, or were you to busy looking at the scales? Exercise is good for you! It is good for your body on the inside. You can't see it, but if you allow yourself to notice, you will feel it.
So how do you motivate yourself to exercise? For me, two things helped. The first one: I told myself that I am a person who exercises. I am a fit person. Even before I started training properly, I told myself that I was "one of those people". Second: I hired a personal trainer. Motivation was a huge issue for me. I had been depressed and stressed and couldn't manage to pull myself together on my own. In the two+ years I was feeling down I might have managed to go for a run twice. And I hated it. Mostly because I was so out of shape, but also because I realized I hated running. Which I had enjoyed before, so now I had another thing to hit myself over the head with; "now I can't even run!" But for some reason the idea of lifting weights was appealing to me, so I asked my husband to help me look for a personal trainer. And here's a pro-tip: if you are searching for something and can't find it, ask someone for help. They see things with different eyes, and different people gets different results on Google. So, my husband found a gym close to my work, and I wrote them a message. A few days later I had an appointment with a trainer called Eva, to see if we were a good fit. A few weeks after that I was getting started, and I never looked back. Who knew lifting weights could be so good for the mood? The improvement was instant. I felt stronger, more confident and had a sense of mastery. I had never lifted a weight before in my life, and now I was doing squats, deadlifts and bench press. The session was built up perfectly: it took less than an hour, we worked through the whole body, and it was in a quiet setting, with max one other person training at the same time. It was perfect. Then, on a whim, I signed up for ballet. And no, I have never danced ballet before. Not even as a child. But I have always been fascinated by ballet. The strength, the flexibility and the grace is just amazing, and I am very well aware of my own limitations in that regards, but that doesn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying the classes. It is so much fun, and I get mentally and physically challenged every time, I am sore in places in my body I didn't know I could get sore, and we are getting a few laughs in as well.
So from being that unmotivated person that couldn't even go for a short run, I am now a healthier, happier person with more energy and better moods. I am a person that works out. So what can you do to get motivated? You need to want to do something good for yourself. Try something new, something you have never tried before. If that doesn't work try something else. Decide to try until you find something you enjoy, otherwise you won't get it done. And ask your six year old self what she wants to do. I wanted to be a dancer when I was six, so ballet wasn't a completely crazy idea, but it took some courage to get over my own insecurities and actually sign up. Don't worry too much about how you look or what you weight. It is not about looking like that model on the cover of that magazine. If that was the case we would all need big Photoshop machines we could crawl into every morning and get retouched into perfection. As far as I know that isn't possible, so let it go. Put on your gym clothes, go do your thing, and enjoy the fact that you are doing something good for yourself, and that you are maintaining yourself and giving yourself good odds for having a sustainable life, from the inside out.