EDGE Holistic Fitness

How to Stay Fit in an Unfit Economy – Part 1 of 3

October, 20 2009

Times are tough… there is no doubt about that. Jobs are being cut, while the budgets of companies and individuals are being rationed. Consumer spending is at record lows, and fitness is possibly being pushed even further down the list of priorities. However precarious the situation may seem, it would be prudent to be mindful of the fact that order and chaos are cyclical states of being. Likewise, the economic crisis can and will be resolved, in time. But the question that I propose to you, my dear reader, is: “Are you willing to do what it takes to stay strong and fit – both body and mind – throughout the process? Or will the contraction of the economy instill debilitating panic, stress, and fear?” All of which – if unchecked – are harmful to the body… and just as importantly, they may inhibit motivation to stay active.

There is a particular reality that needs to be acknowledged, and that is that for many of us, our finances are tighter than what we would like them to be. So maybe, for some of us, hiring that miracle-working Personal Trainer to help get back on track is a little out of the price range. But not to worry, there are plenty of creative and cost effective ways to stay in shape, and even break through existing plateaus without breaking the bank. But before I get into the good stuff, it is important to acknowledge the unequivocal maker or breaker of fitness achievements… and that is motivation.

Got Motivation?
Motivation is a very interesting and dynamic concept. For some of us, motivation works extrinsically (from the outside-in): receiving rewards; money, praise – or in some cases, derision – can provide a sense of empowerment (or in the case of derision, a chance to prove yourself). For others, motivation works intrinsically (from the inside-out): personally creating a tangible feeling of appreciation, passion, and/or a heightened sense of value that can really get you excited about something. Respectively, from my professional and personal experiences, I believe that being intrinsically motivated is much more powerful, self-sufficient, and is more likely to be associated with long term results, despite the endeavor.

So then, how does someone that is not easily intrinsically motivated about exercise, get the proper motivation? Million dollar question. And I wish I had a simple answer for you, but the perfect piece of inspiring advice for each individual is just as unique as the individual themselves. And since everybody is different in their own unique way (in this case, tragically), the most appropriate answer would be… find out what inspires you. Not by fear. Not by marketing trickery. Not by false promises. But by pure, innate passion. Tapping into what you are passionate about can be extremely empowering, and that energy can be harnessed for anything. I will explain more later, but first, let me share an interesting story with you.

A great client and friend of mine once told me (and repeatedly reminds me in the most entertaining stories) “I have a small brain that is easily amused…” Now before you jump to any perverted conclusions, let me clarify what this simple belief means. His statements, “…small brain, easily amused…”, always puts a smile on my face because it reminds me of how we tend to complicate simple pleasures in life. What do I mean by that? It took some training and patience, but eventually I learned to enjoy the simple pleasure of exercise; not just the results that it gave me, but the shear pleasure of doing it! And like my friend, I too have developed (or is it un-developed?) a “small brain, easily amused”, and express that by sharing my simple achievements in life with whoever is willing to listen! Now, if you do decide to give this a try more often – possibly as a little habit in life – It’s important to note that it may be beneficial to share your little achievements in life with people that will humor you, and not get jealous or annoyed. That could be bad.

There are many simple pleasures to be acknowledged and shared! Another personal example, I learned to enjoy the simple pleasure of studying and working hard to get good grades in college. Again, let me point out a critical detail and distinction: I have always enjoyed getting good grades, but it took some work, patience, and diligence to learn to appreciate and enjoy the process. See, this is where simple things get complicated. Often times, especially as Americans, we complicate things by focusing on the end results; focusing on the results/rewards (extrinsic thinking), instead of the process/work (intrinsic thinking). And things get even worse when we are result oriented, and we don’t get what we want… For the extrinsic thinker, this particular situation can be more devastating, compared to that of the intrinsic thinker. Staying motivated absolutely may require a mind frame of NOT what happens to you, but rather, what you do about what happens.

Tying this all into to exercise and fitness is simple… well, at least on a conceptual level. Learn to enjoy the process. Learn to enjoy the work. Learn to enjoy the challenge, the struggle, the sweat, and the soreness associated with exercise! And coincidentally, or perhaps as a prerequisite, learn to enjoy sharing your simple achievements with someone else with a “simple brain, easily amused.”