A long time ago I read a book by W. Timothy Gallwey, a classic, called The Inner Game of Tennis. Since then he has written several other books like The Inner Game of Golf, The Inner Game of Work, The Inner Game of Stress, Inner Skiing, and even The Inner Game of Music.
Where am I going with this?
Well, in my mind, it just goes to show: the things we do, in sports and in life, start upstairs, in our minds. And, how we approach each task, each new thing we want to learn, how we want to run our lives, starts in our mind.
As Bobby Jones, champion golfer, said, “Competition is won or loss on the six-inch playing field between the ears.”
Since part of what I do in the fitness biz has to do with motivation, I have read a ton of books about motivation, habit change, productivity, focus, performance, positive psychology, willpower, and even happiness.
Often, I find promises like this one: “…learn how to stay focused, deal with adversity, stay motivated, avoid distractions, follow your dreams, live a life of purpose, and achieve excellence.”
I don’t know about you, but when I read that sort of thing, I get de-motivated! Seems that we are all supposed to be striving for our personal best, all the time. And, all you have to do is follow the formula, and you will be able to “create the ideal mental state that will allow you to rise to the next level and perform at your best…”
Instead, let me put this in front of you. I like the quote from Jack Nicklaus, who a lot of us know as the greatest golfer of all time. “The greatest and toughest art in golf is playing badly well.”
This reminds me that, when it comes to exercise and fitness, we often don’t show up feeling like we are at our peak. Or, we are tempted not to show up at all. Suppose we have aches and pains, are exhausted from caring for a loved one, have long work hours (plus commute), are trying to kick a cold or illness, or feel restricted for any number of reasons. What if your real reasons for wanting to keep fit are to avoid diseases like Alzheimer’s, a heart attack, or arthritis, not necessarily to strive for your personal best? Then what?
Here’s some thoughts about how to stay consistent with exercise that speak to hanging in and moving forward even if you feel like you are crawling toward some goal, and are not sure what it is! It’s about honing your own “Inner Game of Fitness”.
Re-examine your fundamental motivations and values related to wanting to get some exercise.
They do not have to be lofty. Maybe you just want to feel better, improve your health, or figure out good ways to work around things that may be holding you back. Connect with the knowledge that exercise and movement will do those things for you.
Take a good look at how you feel about exercise.
Often what we think it means to “get fit” is dictated by outside forces and information. It’s supposed to be fun, I am being forced to do it, it hurts, it will fix my unattractive body, I should do this because my doctor/spouse/friend said so, I need a great beach body. Chuck all that. Find your own reasons (see #1) that have compelling meaning for you, and stick with them.
Be open to learning some things about exercise.
Here are three reasons why this is important.
- First, when you connect with what you are doing and understand what it is doing for you, it becomes something that becomes part of you. You are not just forcing yourself to show up, or staying detached from the outcome.
- Second, it helps you to make choices around it. It puts you in charge, and you learn what is best for you, and what you are capable of. Think of it this way: instead of exercise coming from the world around you, learning changes you from the inside. This helps you make choices, and increases confidence in yourself. And, asking new questions keeps you interested and growing.
- Third, with knowledge, you can learn to slip more movement and exercise into your day. If you are up against it, and don’t have time to go to the gym or go through a whole DVD, you can pick a few things that you know will keep you going for now.
Find out what you enjoy.
If you are learning, curious, and asking new questions, it helps us to find out what you enjoy about exercise and fitness. That way, it becomes a reward, not a drudge or a “should”.
All together, using these as a guide for your mindset can keep you coming back for more in spite of distractions, challenging schedules, and other limitations. It’s your “Inner Game of Fitness”.
Feel free to drop me an email with your thoughts, as always.
© 2017 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.