The most common reason people begin their health and fitness journey is to improve their physical wellbeing. Whether it be to lose weight, finally fit into those favorite pair of jeans, or to just feel more confident in their skin, image and physicality is a major part of the fitness journey.
It’s not my opinion, it’s the truth- most people begin their fitness journey to achieve a certain “look” or hit a goal weight… and that’s okay! My opinion of course is that there are far more benefits to working out than physical results. While physical fitness may get you started, I pray that you find a reasons, or what we call a “Why” that helps you dig into the real reasons you want to become healthier.
Because, let’s face it, if your motivation is tied strictly to physical results, it can be fleeting. This is why yo-yo dieting is a real thing. People go on an extreme regimen to achieve results, lose that 20lbs, then gain it (and more!) back. If your goal is a temporary, physical only goal, I really encourage you to dig deeper into the real reason why you are wanting to live a healthier life.
For me, this why has been absolutely essential, because guess what- even when you’re taking great care of yourself, sometimes things happen that you cannot figure out. If you’ve been following my story, or know me personally, you know that when I moved home from school almost three years ago now, I actually started having some health problems arise.
It started with a chronic headache.. I’m talking to the point where I forgot what it felt like to not have a headache. This led me to taking a food sensitivity tests where I discovered I developed an intolerance for several things including eggs, dairy, whey, casein, mushrooms, cranberries, and several other random foods. Interesting, to say the least. So, I did what I was supposed to do- I cut those foods out of my diet, but my symptoms not only persisted, they intensified.
Over the course of over two years now, I’ve gone through seasons of chronic headache, fatigue, mood swings (though they are moderate, its weird for me as I have a pretty positive demeanor), irregularity with hormones, additional food sensitivities, and ah the dreaded one…weight gain. This has been especially hard for me because I’ve been eating healthier than I ever have, I know my fitness regimen is on point, and I not to mention- my career is to help others with their health and fitness. While I’ve been successful in helping my clients see the interval and external results they are looking for, my physical fitness is not budging. Life is ironic, isn’t it?
To be perfectly honest, I can’t help but be frustrated. I’m only 24. I’m doing ALL the right things. I workout daily, I stretch, I get enough sleep, I have a great support system, I eat well (heck, almost everything I eat is non-processed and organic!), I read and journal daily, my faith is getting stronger day by day… on paper, I’m doing it all right, I see no lack.
The mental part of this can be draining, to say the least. And although I’m about to give tips to you on how to stay in the mental game even when you’re not seeing physical results, let me be clear- some days this list goes completely out the door. Some days I have melt downs, break downs, I see nothing but a never ending dark tunnel of doctors appointments with no answers. Some days, this defeats me. I do often question if I’m going to ever make it out of this season, or if this is just what it is and I’m going to be not feeling as I know I should for the rest of my life.Of course, my faith tells me that last sentence is certainly not true. But, I’m just giving you a fair warning that it’s not always easy, and that I struggle a lot with it too. So if you can relate, you’re certainly not alone.
However, here are some things you can do and some thoughts you can think that can help you stay strong, even when you’re not seeing physical results.
- You need a strong support system. I cannot thank my family, friends, fellow coaches, mentors, and even pals on social media. A strong support system makes your dark days a lot brighter. They will be able to give you the encouragement you need, especially when you don’t feel like you have any hope left within you. If you’re looking for a positive support system, I’m happy to connect you in with a few of mine! I know the struggle can be hard alone, so never hesitate to reach out.
- Journal daily. This has helped me so much. I tend to be a person who hates to show negative emotion. I don’t want to burden others with my sorrow or sad heart, I just want to keep putting positive into the world. However, sometimes there is frustration that needs to be let out, so journaling daily helps me get my thoughts out of my own head, and it makes room for the positive thoughts I want to be thinking.
- Focus on your faith. This has been the number one thing that is honestly getting me through this. I have learned so much about my faith, and I truly believe this tough season has come into my life in order to draw me closer to God. I’m finally (slowly, slowly, slooooowly, but surely) learning to let go of the things I cannot control and trust that God has a plan to work this all together for my good. On days I really struggle, I know that I can lean on Him, dive into my Bible, or a devotional and be encouraged.
- Remember your WHY. It’s hard enough to motivate yourself to workout when you just simply don’t want to, but try working out when 1) you’re fatigued/ dealing with symptoms and 2) you’re hardly seeing physical results anyway. Man, talk about HARD to do. However, when this happens to me, I buckle up and remind myself that I’m doing this to become a better me- I’m doing this for mental strength, for fighting this current season, for my present, and for my future. I know this sounds crazy, but my vision of my future husband and kids motivates me more than anything. I always think about how I need to get through this workout and not give up because I want to be my healthiest self for them, so I can be around as long as possible for them.
- Get yourself a multitude of incredible playlists. I’m a huge music buff. I truly believe music is one of the greatest gifts we get to experience. It’s a mood enhancer, it’s a life booster. When you need to get back in the mental game, blast your favorite music and let it rock you. This has helped me a lot.
- Pray. The power of prayer is real. Though I’ve struggled with not getting this specific prayer answered for some time, I know for a fact that God is working behind the scenes, and the resolution will be revealed to me soon. I know it, I can feel it. I pray for the physical and mental strength and courage I need to keep going day in and day out.
- Commit to consistency. I have had the real conversation with myself that says- Listen, Jess, I know that this may not feel like its making a difference now, but it will. You need to commit to the act of consistently showing up, this is bound to pay off.
- Think about the alternative- you don’t want that. When I feel like giving up, I think about actually doing it, and then realize how much worse of a situation I’d be in, presently and in the future. Giving up is not the right choice. Stay strong.
- Have a vision for how you know you want to feel. I think about this a lot- the Jessie I know and love is making a come back, and I can physically see her in my head. I let that vision motivate me to keep showing up, to keep staying strong, knowing it will be my reality again.
- Ground yourself in gratitude. Even on our worst days, there is something to always be grateful for. I remind myself that if I’m breathing, I incredibly blessed. I remind myself of all the amazing things and people I have in my life, and I speak out loud the things I’m grateful for. It may sound crazy, but I swear it works!
- Focus on the progress you are making. It can be any progress. For me, I focus on the fact that I know I’m getting stronger, even if I don’t physically see a change, I’m seeing a change in my endurance and strength, so I continue to focus on those positives, rather than the number on the scale.
- Dive into personal development. I cannot stress this enough. Incredible personal development books, podcasts, and audio books will help to focus your mind on positive change, success, hope, etc. Basically, you need to fuel your brain with these things so that you can consume it and have that be your focus, instead of your own (potentially negative/unmotivated) thoughts. Here is a list of 60 of my favorite resources and even a list of my favorite motivational YouTube videos. These help me instantly boost my mood.
- Don’t lose your hope. This, my friends, is easier said than done. As I mentioned, I have days where hope seems so far gone that I could never get it back. However, every day is a new opportunity and brings new hope. The second you lose hope, you lose your battle. Don’t do that. Stay strong, you are going to get through this. WE are going to get through this.
- Have days where you completely lose it. I tried for so long over the past few years to hold it together all of the time, and that simply doesn’t work. Because guess what, you end up exploding. Trust me, I know. Some days you’re going to be so completely spent that for no explainable reason you just cry, a lot. It’s okay. We are human. Come to terms with the fact that it’s okay to let yourself go. As I mentioned, every day brings new hope- I always wake up feeling lighter and brighter after my “whoops I lost it” days.
- Look for ways to help others. Our lives become better when we help other’s lives become better. Becoming more and more involved with community service has been such a blessing in my life and has truly helped me take focus off of my internal health problems and realize that though it may be a pain point for me now, its not the end of the world, and I still have so many ways to help others.
Trust me, I know this process is frustrating. Not having answers is hard. I’m right there with you. In fact, I’m currently sitting in the hospital for another round of tests. It’s not very fun, but I keep reminding myself of the things above and keep on repeat “This is happening for a reason, God is working this together for your good” and it brings me comfort. I hope this helps you in some way. If you need a friend, someone to talk to, or a support group, never hesitate to reach out.
I pray healing is right around the corner for us both!