“I know I should [stretch more, eat better, exercise regularly], but…”
I hear this often, either during a massage session or in Essentrics class. What is going on here? We humans have the ability to increase our flexibility, decrease our pain and uplevel our energy. Yet there always seems to be a “but…” when it comes to taking action and sticking with it. If you took the benefits of what we can do for ourselves in terms of diet, exercise and mobility, and put that in a supplement form, it would be in most of our cupboards.
You’re in charge
Here’s an empowering thought: you have the responsibility of your own health. Put another way, you are in charge of making or breaking your own well-being. I am not referring to diagnoses and conditions here. I am referring to the power you have to set up your own solid and sound foundation for health, regardless of what else you have going on.
Making health simple
We pretty much understand the basics in supporting our physical/mental well-being and immune system, so it doesn’t seem that ignorance is standing in the way of us taking charge of our health.
Motivation is your WHY
When it comes to taking the actions to create the foundation for your health, motivation is the initial catalyst to get you moving in the desired direction. There are two types of motivation.
Extrinsic motivation is driven by outer rewards. You might engage in a 15-day gym challenge to earn the reward of a free t-shirt. Or you might feel motivated to take a ski conditioning class so that you can clock your fastest ski time down Heavenly Daze.
Intrinsic motivation is an inner drive. You do the thing because of how it makes you feel, not for the promise of an external reward. You might notice that adding three days per week of running or walking gives you more energy, so you are intrinsically motivated to continue. Or, you might have a nightly routine of working the kinks out of your tight hip. This might have started because the physical therapist told you to, but it results in more restful sleep, and keeps your body moving so much better, that you are now intrinsically motivated to continue that routine.
Motivation gets us started - but doesn’t necessarily finish the job.
Discipline is your HOW
Discipline is the heavy lifter of sticking to our plan for health. Motivation is a fickle partner in our pursuits - some days it shows up, some days it doesn’t. We might be super excited to start that new exercise program that is going to change our lives and solve all of our problems. But five days in and the excitement is gone - what is going to carry us through to make that new thing stick? Dependable discipline.
Discipline is the thing that has you scheduling the exercise time in your calendar. Setting out your workout clothes the night before. Some people don’t like rules. Ironically, it is discipline that gives you the autonomy to set your own rules and stick to them. Discipline is what sees you through the one-step-at-a-time to the long-term realization of your goal.
A couple of years ago I was experiencing chronic hip pain, and could not do the exercises my skilled physical therapist recommended. I worked with some modified, less painful movements. Gradually I got stronger, and was then able to do the more demanding exercises. I really wanted to rehab that hip, so I put a rule in place that I’d do the exercises at least four days per week. I am now pain free in that hip. This entire process took about 18 months of consistent weekly discipline. I share this because it was the discipline that got me to the long-term goal. If motivation was the only tool at my disposal, believe me, I’d still be dealing with that pain.
So we have our self-empowerment, our basic framework for health, our WHY (motivation) and our HOW (discipline). I ask you, Boss: what is standing in the way of you and your good health?
Article from The Conversation: Lost Your Motivation to Work Out? Here's Why and How to Get Back on Track
Article from Develop Good Habits: Motivation vs. Discipline
Jacqueline Denny, ACC, CHPC, LMT