Mindfulness exercises can change your beliefs for the better and help you appreciate yourself, your body, and your health. You might have a customized fitness plan based on the latest research, but if you don’t have the motivation to carry it out, it’s useless. So, what do you do when you lack motivation?
Mindfulness, a 2,000-year-old Buddhist practice, may be just what you need.
How can mindfulness help you stay motivated to exercise?
Mindfulness (being mindful) is now a household term, but can it motivate you? More specifically, can it inspire you to exercise more, eat better, and prioritize your health?
Mindfulness encourages awareness and living in the present. When you’re mindful, you’re more sensitive to your surroundings and are also more self-aware. In other words, you’re more in tune with your behavior, words, thoughts, feelings, and body.
Rather than carry out immediate action, mindfulness encourages you to appreciate what you have and notice things that might otherwise be ignored amidst the flurry of thoughts and activities we perform daily.
Our health is something we often take for granted, and mindfulness awakens us to this. When we recognize how vital our health is to our very existence, we can appreciate it at a deeper level and support it through superior habits and lifestyle changes.
Through mindfulness, we can tap into valuable information about our physical health by asking questions like, “What is the state of my body right now? What does it need? Have I given it the exercise it needs to feel relaxed, less stressed, more fit and stronger?”
The Power of Belief Systems
We each have a belief system or set of beliefs to which we adhere. Belief systems exist on an individual and societal level. Though they seem abstract, they are essentially the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of the world.
Though many of our beliefs are self-limiting, they can change over time. Certain practices, like mindfulness, are useful tools when it comes to reassessing our belief systems. The things we believe influence our motivations and subsequent actions. They are especially relevant for achieving goals like losing weight, getting fit, or eating better.
Maybe you grew up with two older siblings that would always dominate you during play fights. Subconsciously, you may have developed the belief that your body isn’t very strong. As an adult, when you hit the gym, you always choose the lowest weight category for your workouts and give up easily when you get tired because you simply believe you’re not strong enough to endure more weight or time.
Limiting beliefs is especially powerful when you’re trying to lose weight and overcome those lingering sensations of being bullied about your size as a child. As an adult, these feelings can resurface and impede your progress and motivation with thoughts like, “I can’t do this,” or “I’ll never lose weight; my whole family is overweight.”
Simple mindfulness exercises to keep you motivated
Mindfulness exercises aren’t like HIIT exercises. Some meditative practices go hand in hand with mindfulness, but it’s also possible to practice mindfulness at any moment throughout the day. Here are a few easy mindfulness exercises you can try today:
The words and images we associate with certain things, like our body, carry a lot of power. Language carries power. This simple exercise can be performed using various words, but let’s use the word “workout” to begin.
Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit. Quiet your mind by doing a short 3-minute meditation, if that helps.
If you still have too much on your mind, consider waiting to do this at another time or simply jot down some of your thoughts in list form, fold the paper, and try to quiet your mind again. You should feel open, receptive, present, and aware of your body; be in the moment.
Say the word “workout” aloud to yourself.
What are the images, phrases, and ideas that come to mind? Jot them down or make a mental note of them.
This list will give you a glimpse into the beliefs you hold about your health and body concerning exercise. Does anything stand out? Are there beliefs you need to reassess? By understanding these, you can take the necessary next steps to change them, especially if they are ideas that limit and discourage you.
Many people pray and give thanks before every meal. This is actually a very mindful practice that can be loosely applied, even if you’re not religious.
It may be inconvenient to practice this for every meal at first, but if you do, you’ll start to develop your own approach to mindful eating. You’ll also uncover increased motivation to prepare and consume healthier meals.
Before you begin eating, consider what is motivating you. Are you hungry? Is your body demanding food?
When you sit down to eat, consider all the elements of your meal. Ask yourself, “Where did each ingredient come from? Who cooked the meal? How do you feel about the food, apart from the basic instinct to consume it? Is this meal healthy and will it supply your body with too little or too much?”
As you enjoy your meal, savor each bite and chew slowly. How soon do you feel full? Will you stop eating, or will you serve yourself a second helping?
The idea isn’t to judge, but to simply be more aware, or mindful, of the experience.
It’s never too late to learn new, enlightened methods that will improve your quality of life. Try the above exercises and see if, over time, you feel more in tune with your body and what it needs, as well as the food you’re providing it. This increased awareness will help you realize just how valuable your health is and likely motivate you to nurture it.