You might be exercising for all the wrong reasons…

January 16, 2020

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I'm Mickie. Co-founder and CEO of One Strong Southern Girl. Our team is here for you. We want you to remember us because we helped changed your life. 


Today I want to talk about a very important part of your workout routine…why you’re doing it. Because your why is really important to your success. The goal to your fitness routine, no matter where you are in your fitness journey, is consistency. Your Why fuels that consistency and fuels that outcome of whether you’re going to be consistent for a week or consistent for life.

Fitness needs to be a permanent part of your life–a permanent ingredient in your life. It has to be to get the results and to get the benefits from moving, and working, and taking care of your body.

I‘m going to help you do a little mindset gymnastics to make sure that you’re on track to get the most out of exercise so that you can have a life changing, consistent workout routine that you love.

This topic was featured on a podcast episode of Crunches and Cosmos.  You can listen here:

So, you might be at the perfect spot when it comes to why you’re exercising. 

But, chances are, your Why could use a little tweaking to make it serve you better.

The first step to getting the most out of this is to be honest with yourself about why you’re showing up to every workout.

And that will help you to decide whether you do need to make some adjustments or have a little talk with yourself about what’s going on and why you’re doing things.

I remember there was a time back in my early 20s, or maybe it was even in high school, and I’d read this article that seemed to make perfect sense.

The article said that the best way to motivate yourself to exercise was to buy a pair of jeans that you wanted to fit into and put them somewhere in your room where you saw them all the time. And that would be your motivation and/or inspiration to keep you on track to stick with your diet and fitness routine. Because you would see this constant reminder of your goal of where you wanted to be and get to.

Those jeans became the reason why I worked out at that time.

And just to give you a little update about how that worked out for me, it didn’t work out for me so well. Those jeans served as a reminder for what I couldn’t seem to get to. They were a constant reminder of my failings with my diet and exercise routine because I never did squeeze into those size zero jeans.

The point of that little story there is I want you to think about why you work out, why you’re exercising, why you started, why you show up every day.

What are the things you’re telling yourself about why you’re exercising?

I want you to ask yourself if any of the following reasons are what you’re telling yourself so that you keep exercising…

Is it because someone told you that you need to be working out?

Like maybe a physician, maybe your medical provider, your parent or a loved one, a friend?

The point is that someone else told you that you should be exercising and in a loving way said, “You should be working out.”

And you’re trying to do what they told you to do because you know you should be working out. You know it’s for the best, it’s good advice. So that’s why you’re doing it, to make them happy, and that’s why you got started.

You remind yourself of that when you work out.

Maybe that’s one of your reasons.

Are you exercising because you’re trying to get into a pair of jeans (I can relate) or a certain outfit that you want to fit into?

Maybe you haven’t fit into that outfit in years, or it’s something you just have as a goal to fit into at a certain period of time.

Maybe for your next beach trip or your next formal gathering you want to fit into a certain dress or if you’re going to be a bridesmaid or in a wedding or something, you’re trying to work out.

Your fitness motivation is being driven by desire to fit into this outfit.

Is that you?

Are you working out because of wanting to lose weight?

Specifically, is that your only reason for working out?

You have no other reason except you’re trying to get to a certain number on the scale.

Is that you?

That’s a very common motivator.

The way you know what your why is is because these are the conversations you have in your mind.

These are the things that you think about when you’re trying to get yourself to work out, and these are the internal conversations you’re having with yourself.

Like, “So-and-So said I should be working out,” or, “Remember the doctor said I had to do this so that I could get healthier,” or “Remember that wedding. You want to get into that dress.”

If those are the reminders that you’re using to motivate yourself to work out, then that’s your why right now.

That’s why you’re working out.

Something to think about

Studies have shown us, or research tells us, that these motivators, these kinds of factors that I’ve just listed, are called external reasons.

They’re not internal; they’re external or intrinsic reasons for working out.

They’re being driven by factors outside of you.

Other people or other reasons outside of you are being your motivators to exercise.

Studies show us that exercising for those external reasons are not as likely to help you create a workout program that’s sustainable as it is if you use internal or intrinsic reasons to work out.

Studies show that exercising for intrinsic reasons is a smarter way to work out and actually creates a workout routine that’s more likely to be sustainable.

The fact is that only 50% of people that start a workout routine are able to keep with it in the long-term or able to be consistent.

You don’t want to be the 50% that’s not sustainable.

You want to do everything you can to set yourself up for success from day one so that you’re part of the 50% of people that creates a workout routine that you can maintain.

I want you to focus now for a second on deciding if you have any of those external motivators driving you right now to exercise.

If those are the kinds of things that you’re using to stay motivated to exercise, that’s okay.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all done it. We’re all doing it.

It’s okay, but we’re here to make things even better.

Here’s how to increase your chances of making regular exercise a permanent part of your life

The way to make things even better are to make internal or intrinsic reasons for exercising your primary focus with those external motivators being secondary or just there as added benefit.

So what do I mean when I say intrinsic reasons for motivation?

What are these intrinsic reasons?

These are forces, they’re things that are not outside of you but are internal motivators like a desire to be healthy, just a strong desire to be healthy having nothing to do with the shape of your body necessarily but just the desire to be healthy.

Or you love the satisfaction of a completed workout.

If that’s something that drives you to work out, if that’s a motivator for you to exercise, that endorphin rush, that psychological feeling that you feel after you work out, that’s an intrinsic motivator.

Another one is the psychological feeling of doing the right thing for your body, inside and out.

That satisfaction of knowing that you are doing what’s best for your body and for yourself, if that’s a motivator that’s an intrinsic reason.

And finally, a really good one is that you want to honor the fact that you’re physically able to move your body.

Because it’s a blessing that others don’t have.

Let that be a motivator for you.

Some people don’t have the ability to exercise their body in the way that you can and that you have been blessed to do.

So take care of it, honor your body by exercising it and taking care of it. Let that be an internal driving motivator when you’re trying to think of the reason that you’re working out.

So when you have those internal conversations with yourself, I want you to try and have a little bit of a shift in your internal dialogue.

Instead of constantly reminding yourself that you’re trying to lose weight or about the outfit you’re trying to fit into, have a conversation with yourself about being healthy and why it’s the right thing to do for you to live life as your best self.

A combination of motivators is A-OK

It’s okay to have a combination of internal and external motivators.

There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, that’s the majority of us.

They’re going to go hand in hand, but I want you to work hard on trying to make sure that some of these intrinsic factors are driving your desire to be healthy and to work out and show up for your fitness routine, and don’t just let it be because someone else told you you had to work out.

Because that’s not sustainable.

Something like fitness and the desire to stay healthy and to exercise is a very personal decision that’s unique to each individual.

So you understand why it needs to be driven by internal reasons and internal motivators, not by some other person outside of you or by a reason outside of you because it’s just not as likely to stick.

So if you’re sitting there right now and you’re like, “Mickie, the only reason I started working out was because the doctor told me to,” but that was five years ago, and you’ve maintained a workout routine since then, then odds are you found some internal factors to keep you going.

Because otherwise you’d be resentful of the doctor. You’d be resentful of this whole workout routine that’s messing up your day and your plans all the time. You wouldn’t keep doing it.

At some point you discovered the joy of exercise and what it brings to your life and how you love the way it makes you feel.

You may not have even realized that you hit that point, but if you started with an external motivator and you’ve been able to maintain a regular exercise routine for a long period of time, chances are that you’ve found some internal motivators and you’ve gotten to a beautiful place where you love the satisfaction and the endorphins that come with taking care of your body and moving your body in the way that it was intended to take care of it, to get you through life.

So think about it.

Do a little internal reflection and be honest with yourself.

Odds are if you have a workout routine that you’re maintaining right now, your only motivator is not a number on a scale or because someone told you to do it.

Those aren’t the only reasons that you’re still showing up if you started a workout routine years ago.

I suggest that you get honest with yourself and use this information to help you have an even better workout routine.

I want you to assess why you’re working out.

Think about the conversations you’re having with yourself about why you’re exercising, and decide if you need to tweak it and if you would benefit from having a little adjustment, a little mindset shift in your workout routine and in the way you think about why you’re working out, and if it would help you.

If it would help you then go for it. You’ve got nothing to lose. You can only make things better.

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