When someone thinks about being joyful, the idea of fitness doesn’t usually come to mind. For many people fitness or exercise is the antithesis of joy. However, this is not always because moving, sweating, or exercising is the problem. Rather the problem I see most often is discouragement. Discouragement can come in many different forms, but it’s usually at the root of why fitness is so unenjoyable. From the person who is attempting to get fit for the first time, to the gym addict who has been at it 10 years, discouragement comes to everyone. I myself was just wrestling with this kind of discouragement recently, and I’m a full time trainer who tries to help people through these common frustrations! Everyone goes through seasons where we feel like the results we’re looking for should have already been attained. The danger in this is not that we didn’t get our results or meet our goals, but rather that we base our joy off whether or not we have attained them rather then enjoying the process. This can ruin a person’s sense of happiness and motivation, making fitness, health, and wholeness an annoying chore rather then life-giving energy.
How can we avoid this or correct it when it happens?
1) Do you have clear and realistic goals?
In any great endeavor (starting a business, changing careers, trying to lose 100lbs, etc.) there needs to be a clear goal. Often the first mistake is not clarifying these goals, which can lead to confusion and frustration. Eventually people quit because they forgot why they started in the first place. The second mistake I see is that the goal is not measurable, nor realistic. What do I mean? You need to write out and establish a clear outcome that you can measure to determine you’re heading in the right direction. In fitness this can be accomplished in lots of ways, but the clarity of the goals determine the metrics. For instance, if my goal is to feel more energy and have a more prosperous life, then I don’t need to be discouraged that I can’t bench press 300lbs or that my weight has only gone down 3lbs in the last month. Instead, my metrics is noting that I don’t need to sit as much as I used to, or that I don’t have to take an afternoon nap every day because I have more energy. However, being able to name these goals and make them a reality usually takes more than just you, so that brings us to point number two.
2) Do you have community?
Along with clarifying your goals, it’s important to invite the right people in to help you see if those goals are realistic. Most great things are done in community. Whether it’s a team that wins a championship or an athlete who competes solo, everyone needs people around them for encouragement, processing, and correcting. For many of us, we’ve bought into an idea that success comes from one’s individual work, and yet whenever a champion arises to a podium there is always a long list of people who helped make him/her a champion. They may be the hero, but they never got there alone. In the Lord of the Rings, Frodo Baggins was the hero of the story, but he needed Bilbo and Gandalf to guide him, correct him, and give him courage to press on (I know…I’m a nerd).
3)Are you having fun?
Although, it’s not exactly realistic to say every single workout is “fun”, the reason I use this word is because it’s a great indicator of whether someone is burning out. Basically, are you having fun in the process of reaching or maintaining your goal? Do you listen to music and laugh with friends while you’re working out? Are there little checkpoints or new personal records (PR) that you share that motivate you in your goals? Are you enjoying the process? If the answer is no to most of these questions then you could be in danger of burning out. When your goals are not clear or realistic, and your community doesn’t know or you’re not even connected, the fun will fizzle pretty immediately.
But, don’t fret! I’ve been there and sometimes go back there, but I refuse to stay there. At Vital Fitness we want to help you think through your goals clearly and realistically. There are a lot of great results waiting for you to accomplish but it’s going to take humility, realistic time frames, and friends for any of us to get there. Join our community and let us help you set goals, make friends, and have fun.