Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fitness and Healthy Eating - Motivations and Goals

A friend of mine pointed out that I mentioned the "Body Transformation Contest" in passing without much context, and the idea that I am trying to further transform my body is a bit crazy.  So I decided to write a broader post to describe both my own goals and motivation, and my perspective on it more generally.  I'm curious what all of you think on this issue, and what your own goals and motivations are when it comes to fitness.  But this also might be a boring post for some of you, so as always feel free to ignore it.  :)

First, the contest - I'm not really trying to transform my body.  One day I popped into my usual GNC-type-store to get some protein bars, and they happened to be just starting up a new 6 week contest.  I'd get 10$ store credit just for doing it, and $100 would go to the winner in each category.  Given my category roughly translates into "old women," and at that point no one had signed up in my category, there probably wouldn't be much competition for me.  :)  So I signed up.  Since the only requirement is to come in a few times to get weighed on their fancy scale, and I'd be going in to the store anyway, and enjoy seeing qualitative numbers about weight and fat percentage. etc., it was a win-win-win-win.  In terms of how I could possibly beat the other woman or two who might sign up in my category - it will not be through losing fat.  In my opinion, I really shouldn't lose any more.  If I end up with competition and win, it will be through gaining (gaining more muscle than fat).  I wanted to gain some weight this fall anyway, and this is a nice push to work on that.  It takes a lot of effort to gain weight healthily, and pride plus $100 can help to push me to make that effort.

Now, the more general:

What Motivates us to Exercise and Eat Well?
In my opinion, there are 4 broad categories of motivation.  Tell me if your personal motivation falls into these or not:
1.  To look good (however we personally define that)
2.  To feel stronger and more energetic
3.  Because it is fun - whether you have found a sport you enjoy, like the sunshine and outdoors, or appreciate the endorphins
4.  For health reasons - this is usually focused on long-term health, but usually comes because of some big "scare" moment that makes you suddenly realize you really do need to take action now to protect your long-term health.  A vague general "I want to be healthy when I'm 90" motivation is rarely enough here.

In the past
I knew from the past that exercise really helped me with (2) and (3) - I enjoyed it like crazy and felt so much stronger and more energetic.  When I learned to ski, I didn't get tired, and I had no problem getting back up when I fell down - because I was in such good shape.  So I had a blast!  And I even enjoyed the workouts themselves, especially anything related to weights.  Honestly, (1) - my appearance - had never been a motivation before, because I never watched what I ate so I usually gained weight if I worked out.  I'm naturally thin - that's just how I am.  And I'm usually pretty happy with that.

This time around - getting started
This time around, appearance was a factor. I've always had a tummy and post-baby it was bigger than ever.  It was to the point where the rest of me looked the way I wanted it to, but that tummy - man it was annoying to have to shop and dress around it.  And it was going to be a little hard to feel comfortable in a string bikini over the summer with it sticking out.  At the same time, I was feeling a lot lower energy than I would like.  I was getting tired easily and just didn't have the energy to play with the kids the way I wanted to.  And then we booked the Wyoming trip.  SO, what really motivated me to start working out and eating more healthily last spring was:
(1) Appearance - I wanted to get rid of that tummy in time for bikini season!  And I wanted all the "feel good about my appearance" feelings that would come with it.
(2) Strength and energy - I wanted to be able to hike on our trip to Wyoming.  I had *loved* hiking when I was in shape before, but I knew that I did not have the strength and energy to enjoy it as of last spring.  I also knew it would take me a few months to get there.  So, I wanted to get there.

And continuing:
What has kept me going?  I hit my appearance goals to my satisfaction within less than two months.  And I hit my hiking strength/energy goals with room to spare by the time of the trip.  Now it's really all of (2), (3), and (4) that motivates me.  (4), long-term health, probably wouldn't be enough by itself, but it's always in the back of my mind, and some things I learned from my dad lately have really reinforced it.  (After all, I have genetic risks for the same things.)  (3), having fun, is probably the main reason I'm running - man oh man is it fun!  *Especially* because of my awesome running buddies.  And (2), strength and energy, is the reason that I do everything else - the weight-lifting and yoga especially.  I love love love being able to run and jump and play with the kids all day long all weekend long and not feel tired.  And I'm not quite there, but I feel like every week I get closer.  I have so much more energy and can do so much more with them (toss 4-year-olds into the air or twirl them around so their feet lift off the ground?  Sure!) than six months ago.

What about body image issues?
To be honest, I do often forget that I am quite thin.  I don't see it in the mirror clearly.  Luckily, it is obvious to me in photos.  And since I do this blog, I see those photos of myself quite often, and that helps to remind me just how thin I am.  I probably do suffer from some body perception issues in that sense.  But the great thing is that how I feel about my body is very positive.  There's not a thing I would change about my appearance at this point.  And that has been true for about 4 months now, even as my body has fluctuated in subtle ways over that period.  That's a great feeling. (Even before, it was just that annoying post-baby belly that I wanted to get rid of.)

I mentioned that I'm tracking my calories/fat/carbs/protein for a few days to get a feel for how I eat.  Well, yesterday was a 2300 calorie day.  Do I feel like I need to exercise more or eat less to make up for that?  Not one bit.  I have to admit I do feel a little of "Wow, that's *awesome*.  Who would think someone who looks like me eats 2300 calories on a random Wednesday?"  But I'm guessing that's a perfectly fine reaction to have.  :)

What About You?
So, what motivates you to exercise or eat healthy?  Now and in the past?
And if you don't, do you think any of those motivations might apply to you in the near future? 

Sometimes you can feel it creeping up.  I did with (2) - I knew that I didn't feel as strong as I had in the past, and I could tell it was bugging me more and more.  It was the booking of the Wyoming trip that was the catalyst to act, but that feeling of wanting to be stronger and have more energy had been building up...

No comments:

Post a Comment