The New Year is upon us and no doubt many of us are setting goals to become more physically active. If you’re one of those people, I have a question for you: How motivated are you?
If you don’t feel motivated, have you thought about joining the army? I can tell you from experience that it works! But why does it work so well?
One is that the army ensured that I got regular physical exercise. No matter what the weather, there was always the physical training that I took part in, no exceptions, no complaints allowed.
Second, the army has a set of specific goals and objectives that I was expected to meet. It has very specific, measurable goals, like being able to run a kilometer within a certain amount of time. Not to mention pushups!
And then there was the built-in motivator, otherwise known as the Master Corporal (the Canadian version of the Drill Sargent in basic training). He was the guy barking at me as I moaned and groaned my way through the obstacle course. Master Corporals weren’t always nice in their “motivational methods,” but you know what, for me, it worked. I ran that kilometer and did those pushups. I made it through the obstacle course.
Then again, it’s not necessary to join the army if you’re looking to get more physically active. But in reflecting on my own time, I think that some of the principles are the same and definitely taught me a lot. You need to make time for physical activity and do it. You need to set SMART goals and strive to reach them. You need to find your motivation.
I often see the scale or body measurements used as motivators. While it’s important to measure your progress towards your goals in other ways (like how many minutes of activity you did today), don’t get hung up on those numbers. Health is measured in more ways than pounds or inches. For some, buying something special upon reaching a milestone can be a motivator. However, that might not work in the end and it’s possible that your motivation may falter between milestones.
So, what are you to do?
Motivation needs to come from within if it’s going to last. Here are some suggestions for building up your motivation:
- Make sure that you find ways to be active that you enjoy. Find activities that keep you coming back.
- Focus on the experience. Enjoy the surroundings if you’re outside. Enjoy the camaraderie of team sports. Enjoy the solitude if you’re on your own.
- Learn to recognize and appreciate the health benefits of being active. Enjoy your improved mood and increased energy.
- Engage in physical activity as a way to reward yourself. A nice walk down a forest trail is a great way to relax after a long day at the office.
- Keep challenging yourself. Walk an extra ten minutes or lift that extra ten pounds.
- Acknowledge and celebrate your successes.
It can also help to let people know about your goals and ask them to help you stay on track. If your motivation slips a little, they’ll let you know (sort of like the Master Corporal did for me!).
I have to admit, writing this blog rekindled some great memories from the old army days.
Q: Is having a Master Corporal shouting in my ear one of them?
Q: Would I push harder if he was standing there “motivating me?”
A: You bet I would.
As much as I enjoy the memories and the lessons, I’m not re-enlisting in the army for the motivation – not even for the food or the cool uniforms! But I’ll definitely use the things I learned about motivation to stay physically active in 2016!
The only person responsible for motivating you to be physically active is you.
Unless you join the army, and they take that responsibility very seriously, even when you don’t.
About Reg Wulff
Reg is a Regional Tobacco Reduction Coordinator with Northern Health and has his BA in Health Science. Previously, he worked as a Recreation Therapist with Mental Health and Addictions Services in Terrace. Originally from Revelstoke, Reg enjoys the outdoor activities that Terrace offers, like mountain biking and fishing. Reg also likes playing hockey, working out and creative writing. He is married and has two sons and believes strongly in a work/life balance as family time is important to him.