Whenever I admit to myself there is a flaw in my lifestyle that hinders me from being the healthiest person I can be, I want to change it. However, the hardest part of changing my routine is simply starting. I know I am not alone. Many people struggle with deciding on how, when, and most importantly why they want to begin a routine.
We believe in order to have a successful and sustainable routine you must find the right reasons to. I believe all of us have struggled with routines whether in regards to working out, cooking healthy meals, volunteering, balancing work and home, or anything else. You want to get in shape for summer but life gets in the way and you skip the gym more often than you want. You may feel guilty for consistently getting take-out rather than cooking. Eventually your guilt takes over, motivation fizzles out, and you stop putting in effort. This problem happens year after year (not just for summer) and creates a cycle of guilt where we dread the “better option.” This is the exact opposite effect that healthy lifestyles are support to have on us.
In theory, improving our well-being should keep us motivated, happy, and healthy. So why do so many people fall into this cycle and end up treating routines like a chore? We believe it’s because they haven’t found their right “why”.
Here are some of the wrong “whys”: These may act as supplemental reasons to improve wellness but are not sustainable and should not be your sole reason for beginning a routine.
* Weight loss: It’s not wrong for us to want a better body, but that shouldn’t be the only reason you begin a workout routine. At its core, your routine should be focused on increasing your well-being; the weight will fall off in the process.
* “My doctor said” or “I should”: Whether it is diet, stress, or exercise related, feeling forced into a routine will turn it into a chore rather than a gift. If your health is on the line or declining you should understand and agree with the circumstances but find a way to do it on your terms.
Here are some of the right “whys”: These should be your core reasons for exercising. These reasons are concrete, attainable, and sustainable.
* Improved energy, strength, and focus: By choosing to budget, eat better, or exercise as a way to gain these attributes you will feel more in control of your routine. These turn positive activities into a gift rather than a chore.
* Improved performance in essential life roles: By prioritizing your health you are prioritizing self-care. You are choosing your own routine because you want to be more focused on your life roles. You are investing in yourself so you can be more efficient when you give to your family, friends, and coworkers. As the saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”
Once you’ve found your why, you can find your how. It’s not enough to choose the right reasons to improve your well-being; you also need to choose a routine that works best for you. If you hate the treadmill, don’t use it. If you hate broccoli, eat a different green vegetable. Find things you enjoy doing but try to include something for each pillar of well-being (purpose, social, financial, physical, community, and emotional). Whether it’s at home, in a class, or even at the office, you should decide on a routine that works for your life. Your improved lifestyle routine is also not limited to 30 minutes at the gym. It can be done anywhere, anytime, and for however long you want. Ten minutes here and there will give you the same benefits as 30 minutes all at once.
For an in depth look at “finding your why” in regard to physical activity, sign up for Petra’s class “Fun, Fuel, and Fitness”. You can also read Michelle Segar’s article on the right and wrong whys. She is credited for creating the “Sustainable Cycle of Success” and the “Vicious Cycle of Failure” that outline the right and wrong whys for exercising. http://www.mmimedicine.com/assets/pdf/STOP_PROMOTING_HEALTH_SM_SEGAR_APR...
-Written by our Thrive Intern. Thrive has a rotating cast of qualified interns who blog about issues and topics that they are studying. We frequently invite them to share their experiences and expertise via our blog.