I sent out my cry for help in the Facebook Group to the lovely BAM ladies a couple of weeks ago and thank fully, they donned their capes and came to my rescue with some solid support and plenty of advice to get me out of my exercise doldrums.
Since receiving said advice, I have been shouting and repeating it to anyone I meet! Not just about exercise but relating to all kinds of physical and emotional problems which have come up in discussion.
Caroline Radway, experienced Personal Trainer and Yoga (including SUP Yoga) extraordinaire, and of course BAM member, laid it bare when it comes to maintaining motivation consistently with working out and staying healthy. Should. That word. It was simple - if you use it, then you are not completing your activity from the heart. You are doing something you think you should, rather than something that you want to do. That will always end in loss of motivation to continue long term.
This single concept has literally changed my thinking. I had heard the concept of living a life that was driven by heart felt decisions - ones which come from your "I want to do this" place, rather than from a place of obligation, which is where your "should's" are generated.
I have started to shift my life to being in the "I want to" camp, and this has revved up my motivation levels no end. I have started to exercise nearly everyday of the week but my choice of what I do is completely heart led. It has become fun and enjoyable because I am choosing to move in a way that feels good, not in a way that I think I should be moving. For example, I find running for long distances a challenge. My knees start to ache, I feel more like a rhino than a gazelle and the words "truffle shuffle" always sing through my mind when I imagine what I look like - amazing the things we conjure up in our minds! I am happy running faster over short distances however so I have now incorporated this into my little fun movement jaunts. Weirdly when I run faster I feel more athletic, more amazonian, rather than feeling "Rhino" like despite it being the same body moving - my mind is a weird place however I guess those visuals come from how I FEEL when I run either slow or fast. Amazing the different a bit of pace can do!
Another plus is that because I am visibly happy in the way I am moving, I have become a little infectious in my attitude to movement. My toddler has started copying me when I move about squatting and jumping, skipping and high kicking. He can see I am enjoying myself and so wants to be part of it - this in itself spurs me on to keep moving in this way. In some ways, I feel like a toddler when I am moving. Just experimenting with what feels good and seeing how my body moves - how high can I actually kick? How does it feel to jump off this log? How high can I skip? How far can I jump? It is childlike and free - albeit I look a little mental to passers by, but hey I can live with that (ask me again when I get arrested/sectioned :) )
I have also changed my attitude to forcing myself to exercise because I think I should, when in fact my body is telling me I need to rest. I have spent many years forcing myself to exercise in ways that I don't want to or don't enjoy. Dragging myself to the gym or to a class. Choosing something which does not feed me with joy when I am doing it - how ridiculous! What a massive waste of energy and time! If it does not light you up, then don't keep doing it.
My new anti "should" mantra is seeing me head for salsa classes, re-investigate horse riding, and simply exercise and move when the mood takes me. Yes I do squats whilst the kettle boils if the moment takes me! I don't have to run a certain distance in a certain time, I don't feel the pressure to to burn X number of calories, or do X number of bicep curls - I just do what feels good and right at the time.
I have found new freedom in my fitness life and urge everyone to experiment with doing the same. When you are working from a place of happiness, you work twice as hard, have twice as much fun and feel four times as great afterwards. Nothing becomes a chore and you feel lighter mentally and physically as you are living life completely on your terms.
If you are feeling in a rut with your exercise, health or emotionally, try leading with your heart, find the thing that really floats your boat. Move your body in a way that simply feels good to you, ignore the mojo assassin that is the "should", it will slowly drain not only your motivation but in fact your very life essence.