What’s Your Why?

So there’s a new craze in town – Pokemon Go.

And I say craze deliberately because it’s making people to crazy things – things totally out of the ordinary – and I can’t decide whether it’s a good thing or not.

I was chatting about this Pokemon Go thing with a client the other day and she mentioned that over the weekend she had walked 30km playing Pokemon Go. And it occurred to me that this new game might not be as bad as people are saying – at least it’s getting people moving more.

So I got to thinking…

When it’s cold and windy and the weather forecast says “Rain, Rain and more Rain”..

When the alarm clock wakes you out of that blissful slumber in you’re warm and cosy in bed…

When you know you should do some physical activity but the thought of going out in the cold makes you want to clean your house or complete that task you’ve been putting off for weeks …

What will motivate you to put on your wet weather gear or add a couple of extra layers of clothing and head outside anyway?

What will make you get out of that cosy bed rather than roll over for a few minutes of extra sleep?

What will make you choose some physical activity over cleaning the house or a task that can wait another day or two?

Putting it simply, What’s your WHY? What’s going to motivate you to move and make the food choices that will help you achieve your goal?

OK, I get it, its cold outside and many people find it even more challenging to motivate themselves to establish or maintain regular physical activity during the colder months. So without a compelling reason to make physical activity part of your day, your mind can get very creative at finding reasons to “just head home and worry about it tomorrow”.

As an athlete, I always had a goal or purpose to my training. Even during the colder months we trained, rain, wind and mud because we knew that doing the longer conditioning work during the winter months meant we’d run faster when the competitive season came around in summer…and training with a group was a great incentive too. Our WHY was to run faster in summer and somehow, sharing the cold, wind and rain with others made it easier to get through the session.

At the moment, my WHY for physical activity is because I love the feeling of being fit and healthy and having enough energy to do the things I love to do…..and I’m also addicted to those sneaky, make-you-feel-good exercise endorphins so I jump at the chance to do something physical!  Still, at times I too find it challenging to motivate myself. When it’s cold and wet and windy, being fit and healthy and full of energy is a bit of a “fuzzy” goal. Luckily, years of being active has taught me that I’ll feel awesome when I’m done and the cold (or whatever was on my mind) will seem insignificant after a workout so that in itself is a great motivator for me.

So here are a few tips on finding your WHY: and motivating yourself out of bed, the car, your warm house or office and into a healthier, more energised you:

Look at your options

List all the Pros (good things) and Cons (not so good things) about being active during winter.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • How will being active affect your health in the short term and longer term?
  • How will not being active affect your health now and in the future?
  • How will being active affect your sleep? Many people sleep better if they’ve been active during the day.
  • How will being active affect your mood? Remember those feel-good endorphins?

Set yourself goals and rewards!

Goal Setting is a great idea and whilst many people set big goals (and big rewards) that will eventuate sometime in the future, it’s also a great idea to set yourself little goals (and little rewards) along the way that will help keep you motivated – especially during the winter months. Even a warming cup of coffee is a great reward after some physical activity during the winter months (just skip the cake with the coffee).

The Four Pages Exercise

This technique can be adapted to many different circumstances and is often useful when you are “Stuck” and not sure how to move forward. I’ve adapted this technique to match the blog topic of finding YOUR WHY…

  • Step 1: Take 4 sheets of Paper
  • Step 2: On the first sheet of paper, let’s call it the “TO BE” list, write down all the things you would like your life to be. For example, to have lots of energy, to be healthy and active, to be able to play with my children without getting out of breath, to live to be 100, to buy and wear clothes that I feel comfortable in. If you find this difficult, think about how you would like your life to be in 5 or 10 years
  • Step 3: On the second sheet of paper, let’s call it the “DON’T WANT TO BE” list, write down all the things you don’t want your life to be. For example, I don’t want to be sick, I don’t want to be too tired to do the things I love or to try new things. Often, this list will be the opposite of the “TO BE” list and you may find that working on the “DON’T WANT TO BE” list triggers thoughts for the “TO BE” list so feel free to work between the two lists until you feel you have completed the activity
  • Step 4: On the third piece of paper, the “WHO WOULD BE?” list, write down the attributes of a person who would have all that you have listed on the “TO BE” list.
    What would they think? Would they be dedicated, committed?
    Would they believe that their goals are achievable?
    What would they feel?
    Would they feel motivated to make changes now that they had a picture of where they wanted to be?
    What would they do on a regular basis?
    Would they make small consistent behaviour changes to reach their ideals or go cold turkey and try to tough it out?
  • Step 5: On the fourth piece of paper, the “WHO DO I NEED TO BE” list, identify the areas in your life that you would need to change or modify in order to be the person you described on the “TO BE” list
  • Step 6: For the purposes of this exercise, that is, finding YOUR WHY to be active, notice which of the items in Step 5 could be addressed or supported with some physical activity and would motivate you to get out of bed the car, your warm house or office and be active during the colder months and beyond

So whether you’re into the Pokemon Go craze or not, if it gets you motivated to get outdoors, get some sunshine and moving more, it’s not all bad in my book.

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