Building Your Why

Category: Motivation / Training Tips

As we continue to go through each day of this pandemic, many individuals are back in their homes, feeling unmotivated to move. I don’t blame you. It has been a long year and it seems as if this will never end.

As new restrictions continue to develop across the country, I have been forced to reflect on my own motivations for working out to help myself and my clients. 

After a newly acquired spinal cord injury at sixteen, I lost my purpose in wanting to move. Because I couldn’t run anymore, I felt like I would never get the same ‘runner’s high’ from a seated position.

I also didn’t have any purpose in exercising as I wasn’t training for the next competition.

So, how did I get to where I am today?

I built my why: “Do what you can, with what you have, right now, because your ability to move tomorrow isn’t promised”.

This continues to carry me through each day because my why was built strong enough to get me moving on even the worst of days.

I want to help build your why for movement by meeting the recommended guidelines and incorporating the different dimensions of wellness into your life.  

What are these recommended guidelines and why are they important?

The recommended general guidelines for healthy adults can be found here (specific spinal cord injury guidelines can be found here or multiple sclerosis guidelines found here).

During a 2016-2017 study, researchers found that about 40% of children and youth aged 5 to 17 meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity compared with 16% of adults aged 18 to 79.

The recommended guidelines are to do 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week in 10-minute bouts or more.

To simplify, that’s about 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Are you meeting these? If not, let’s talk about why they are important.

Meeting the recommended guidelines are important because of the many important health benefits.

Without being overly scientific, did you know that from just participating in SOME physical activity you are increasing your longevity, decreasing your mortality rate, and slowing the decline of aging? 

The main takeaway from this is to get out and do something.

Go for an extra walk/roll this week. Find time in your day where you are sitting to stand up and/or stretch, or instead of sitting and watching tv one night this week, move.

Take note of how many minutes of movement you do during the week so you can build from there to reach or exceed the guidelines

Next, now that you know how much movement you are actually getting, take note of how you are feeling. 

Wellness is the new balance that everyone is striving for. Wellness has many dimensions as seen in this diagram below. 

As a coach, I am mostly trying to target physical wellness but if the other aspects of wellness aren’t considered, physical wellness will be hard to achieve. 

The problem is, physical wellness is often the most neglected. People don’t realize how much it actually impacts the other aspects of wellness and ultimately, their entire life. 

Why is this? 

Exercise has been given a bad reputation.

Our perception of exercise started to be influenced in our upbringing and continues to be influenced by our experiences in gym class(es), the media, peers, and real and perceived experts.

This often is what steers people away from moving.

They have this perception that exercise is supposed to be hard, grueling, or takes up too much time when in reality, it doesn’t have to. It is important to remember any physical activity can benefit you. 

The definition of physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure above resting.

This includes: physical activity as part of chores, work, active transportation, and leisure time such as exercise or sports.

Start by reflecting on how you spend your leisure time. When reflecting on how you spend your leisure time, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much time is devoted to each task?
    • Sleep 
    • work/school
    • Leisure
    • Housework
    • Caring for others
  • What are the top 5 things you do in your leisure time?
    • Can any of them be considered physical activity? If so, how many minutes?
    • Can you do better than this? 
  • Are there any barriers to getting more physical activity in? 
    • If so, what are they and how can you resolve them? This is where a coach can be handy to help navigate through these. 
    • Often barriers seem bigger than they really are, think through this one and get creative. 

Once you have finished reflecting on the questions above, it is time to build an exercise plan. Here are some strategies for exercising:

  • Get what you need: 
    • This can include advice/programming/equipment. 
    • Often this seems like a daunting task but it can be quite simple. If you need assistance with finding equipment for home, you can find some ideas found here
  • Create a plan for the week. 
    • Start small and slowly build this up. Don’t be so rigid to your plan. If things change, that’s okay. You can start back up the next day. 
  • Modify your environment. 
    • This might mean setting up a designated gym space in your home, having workout clothes ready for when you wake up, etc. 
  • Have a reward system for yourself. 
    • Did you achieve your 150 minutes this week? Great. Let’s relax and watch a movie this weekend. Anything that will motivate you to keep moving. 
  • Involve the people around you. 
    • Make sure they don’t take up all your leisure time and if you surround yourself with the right people, they may want to be part of your active leisure time. 
  • Plan ahead for challenging situations. 
    • You aren’t going to be perfect all the time. This is where having a coach can help or having someone keep you accountable. 
    • If you know you have a busy week ahead, plan for small breaks that involve walking or any type of movement.
  • Find what works best for you. 
    • Some people hate hour-long cardio sessions, so don’t do them! Do some interval training or break up your sessions into two sessions instead. The list is endless. 
    • If you are feeling unmotivated, find one type of movement/program/workout that you really love and start there. This often helps get you back in gear. 

As you continue to build-up to the guidelines, remember consistency is key. By being consistent, you improve your physical fitness, the chance of living, decrease your risk of dying prematurely, and increase your quality of life.

Each time you do some sort of physical activity, there is an immediate and acute response to your health. As you continue, the results are even better.

Remember, the physical aspect of wellness will greatly impact the other areas of your life and will often improve with even just small walks/rolls each day. 

As always, if you need some help finding what works for you or need some ideas, please reach out. We are here to support you.

Do what you can, with what you have, right now, because your ability to move tomorrow isn’t promised”.

Your coach,

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