I’m finally in a place where exercise has become a regular habit for me, but it wasn’t always that way. I used to be “too busy” to get to the gym—but the hard truth was that I wasn’t making it a priority, which is a CHOICE.
Taking a step back to assess my core values was a BIG first step in finally committing to regular exercise. I realized that my health, and more specifically my mental health, was what I valued most in my life—even above family, friends, and work.
My mental health is my WHY.
I’ve learned that if I don’t prioritize my health—eating well to fuel my brain, moving my body to feel strong, and setting aside me-time to disconnect and recharge—then my mental health suffers.
My anxiety creeps in, and my ability to cope with daily stressors declines—and that has a negative impact on every aspect of my life. It means that I can’t show up to be the wife, mother, friend, or business owner that I’m capable of being.
Keeping my top value in mind helps to drive the choices I make daily. It allows me to set priorities accordingly, and find the time to eat well and exercise.
I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m far from perfect—what is “perfect”, anyway? I still have days where I fall off track, but reminding myself of my WHY motivates me to jump back into routine quickly. It helps me to live in a place where my priorities are aligned with my values.
And it feels good to be in that place.
Why physical appearance isn’t a good motivator
Most of us associate exercise with improving physical appearance—and of course there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best.
However, research shows that when your appearance is your PRIMARY motive, you’re less likely to commit to exercise long-term. You’re also more likely to experience negative body image, and feel less satisfied with your results. This is because appearance is an external source of motivation, which means you’re driven by outside influences out of your control—such as impressing friends or being more attractive to your partner.
Instead, connecting regular physical activity to your top values helps you to become more internally motivated, which has been shown to create lasting, positive change. It’s easier to make exercise a priority when intrinsic motives guide you, and it can actually help you to enjoy your workouts more, too.
Identify your core values to find your why
Your values are the driving principles that reflect what is most important to the way you live—they help to shape the decisions you make daily.
Thinking back to the times in your life that you’ve been the happiest and most fulfilled can help you to determine your most important values—try listing your top five now.
Which value is in the number one spot? This is your main WHY.
Next, make a list of the ways exercise can benefit you, based on your why.
Here are a few examples:
If your top value is family…
- Committing to regular exercise makes you a positive role model to your children. It shows them how to be physically strong and independent, and how to respect and care for their body and mind.
- Exercise gives you more energy to enjoy physical activities together as a family
- Exercise helps you to live longer so you’ll be around for your kids long into their adult life. You might even get to do it all over again with grandkids one day.
If your top value is creativity…
- Exercise has been researched to enhance creative thinking
- It improves problem solving and can help you to overcome mental blocks
- Physical activity, even a simple walk in nature, has been shown to inspire new ideas
If your top value is career…
- Exercise has been shown to improve productivity, focus, and memory
- Exercise is an amazing form of stress relief, which will help you stay on top of your game
- Many highly successful executives and entrepreneurs attribute their success to making health their number one priority
So tell me, what’s YOUR why?
To happiness and health,
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