What motivates us to exercise? Some of the reasons I heard when I interviewed people were: achieving a challenge, looking and feeling better, stress release, and even just simple enjoyment in moving their bodies. After the exercise, dancing, or movement, these people felt accomplished, peaceful, self-confident and more in control of their lives. The exercise, no matter what kind, helped them connect up their complete selves – on physical, emotional and mental levels. For some, there also was a spiritual component involved.
I received an amazing lesson in motivation a few days after conducting the aforementioned interviews. My daughter went into labor with her first child. She had planned to give birth naturally with a midwife in attendance. She honored me by asking me to be her labor coach. Thus began a challenging and exhausting 72 hour journey.
A woman never really understands what her body has to do before her first delivery. She can read about the delivery process; she can watch videos of actual births; she can even attend a live birth. It still doesn’t teach her how her own body is going to feel. It’s trial by fire. Once done, future births are less frightening and the process is familiar and embedded in her body.
My daughter maintained her vision of a natural birth throughout her labor process: through the shakes, the moans, the pain and the fear. 72 hours is a long time. It took motivation and vision to stick with it and resist the temptations for the easy way out – like drugs, like giving up, like asking for surgical intervention. In the end, a beautiful little girl was born. My daughter felt triumphant and knew if she could make it through this delivery; she could achieve anything in the future. This was a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual journey.
I believe that being able to actively envision a specific positive experience or result is the most effective way to motivate ourselves. By maintaining a mental picture of what we are attempting to do and then resisting the temptations to sidetrack ourselves, we are capable of achieving our exercise goals.
Vision is the beginning of the quest. If the vision isn’t there in Technicolor in our heads, we will muddle through without direction and clarity. Strong forethought will carry us through the inevitable inducements to take too many days off or allow other activities to take the place of exercise time.
Vision becomes discipline and aligns our intentions with our actions. As we continue on our path, we become accustomed to the effort that is necessary to achieve our mental picture. It’s no longer trial by fire. When the effort is more familiar, it becomes less frightening and daunting. If motivation ever begins to wane, we can refocus on or upgrade our vision and get the inspiration we need to achieve our goals. Exercise becomes enjoyable, thus a positive and rewarding event in our lives.
Copyright © 2011, Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.