Updated: Oct 11
Learn what is working against you and how to build the healthy lifestyle you know you want.
Why can't it just be easy?
We are overwhelmed by the sea of workout routines, diet plans, and wellness trends! It is mind boggling how many 'best' ways are out there. So let's look at the research.
In our pursuit of physical and mental well-being, it's essential to take a step back and look at where we, as humans, came from and what keeps us physically and mentally healthy. By understanding the basics of our evolutionary history and the need for meaning in our actions, we can build a solid foundation for lasting motivation in our journey to wellness.
To truly grasp the essence of fitness in the physical sense, we must delve into our evolutionary past. Humans have evolved over millions of years, primarily as hunter-gatherers. Our ancestors were constantly on the move, walking, running, climbing, and lifting in their daily quest for sustenance. This primitive lifestyle laid the groundwork for our current physical capacities.
Movement wasn't just a hobby for our ancestors; it was a matter of survival. Physical strength, endurance, agility, and mobility were essential for hunting, gathering, and evading predators. Fast forward to the modern era, and we find ourselves in a world of convenience. Our sedentary lifestyles, marked by long hours of sitting and minimal physical activity, stand in stark contrast to our evolutionary heritage. This shift has led us straight into various health issues. Not to mention the mental health decline (but that is for the next article).
So what should we do? We are told ALL THE TIME that we should be exercising, going to the gym, getting in our 10k steps a day... but the majority of us just can't find the motivation to do any of it. Why? If our ancestors were so active, why can't we be as well?
In the realm of fitness and health, motivation is often elusive. Many embark on fitness journeys with zeal, only to lose steam after a few weeks. The missing piece of the puzzle might just be a lack of meaning behind their actions. Without a deeper purpose, motivation disappears.
Psychologists distinguish between two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation arises from internal factors like personal values and enjoyment, while extrinsic motivation comes from external rewards or pressures. When getting started, extrinsic motivation can be helpful. However, to sustain long-term fitness, intrinsic motivation is key.
Finding meaning in your fitness journey can transform the way you approach your movement plan. When your actions align with your values and aspirations, the intrinsic motivation to stay healthy becomes a driving force. This sense of purpose can help you overcome challenges and setbacks. Keep in mind though... no process is a straight line, there will be challenges no matter how well you set your meaningful goals.
How do we apply this knowledge?
To bridge the gap between our ancestral heritage and modern fitness, we can turn to practical movement patterns. These exercises mimic the natural movements our bodies are designed for, such as squats, lunges, pushes, pulls, rotations, and climbing. Natural movement fitness emphasizes both strength and mobility, promoting overall health. Now that sounds boring, but with the right coach... like myself (haha!), it can be perfectly challenging. Don't think parkour. Think of an amazing hike through the mountains where you have to climb over a fallen tree, hop across a creek, and maybe squat behind a tree to relieve yourself! These outdoor endeavours also help us tap into those primal instincts for exploration and improvisation. Just like kids!
But not everyone likes to play outside and improvise. Many love the idea of routine and having that set structure of regular visits to a gym, group fitness class (so many benefits of group fitness!), pool, yoga practice, boxing club, I could go on as we truly have so many options. The easiest question to ask yourself is: 'What did I love to do when I was young?'. This can start you down a path that brings up enjoyable activities. Start there and then add in a goal. Don't just start with the goal, they are quite often from an extrinsic view point. Instead of aiming solely for weight loss or aesthetics, focus on achieving increased energy, improved mood, or enhanced mobility... Or even playing with the grandkids. These goals are not only more meaningful but also sustainable in the long run, depending on how active your grandkids keep you.
Next, it's crucial to view your fitness journey as a continuous process rather than a destination. Embrace the daily practice of movement and nourishing your body as an opportunity to align with your evolutionary heritage. Celebrate the small victories and learn from the setbacks, all of which contribute to your growth. No path is a straight line.
Still struggle with motivation? Remember... Humans are inherently social beings, and our evolutionary history is filled with collaboration and community. Engage with others who share your fitness goals to foster a sense of belonging and accountability. Participating in group activities or working out with friends can make your fitness journey more enjoyable and meaningful. Remember that fitness is not merely a series of exercises or a number on a scale; it is a journey of self-discovery, self-care, and personal growth. By aligning with our evolutionary heritage and finding meaning in our actions, we can build a lifelong path to health and well-being that is both deeply satisfying and long lasting.
Need some assistance in building your starting point? Don't wait until you are ready, the body is an amazing tool that responds to what you ask of it. If you ask it to sit on the couch 5 hours a day, it will get too comfortable there. If you ask it to start moving, it will adapt to giving you more energy to keep it up.
Message me today, let's get you started.