It’s easy to become obsessed with goals and tangible results and forget the higher rewards offered by physical exercise. Most exercisers focus on only one dimension of training: increasing their physical abilities. But being physically fit does not necessarily mean you are healthy or balanced in your life. There are many examples of great athletic champions and super fit people who are unhappy, unhealthy human beings.
When your athletics are out of balance, your physical and emotional health suffers. You will never reach your competitive potential, and you will not gain the self-knowledge and fulfillment you deserve from your athletic pursuits. Becoming more balanced in your approach to exercise can be achieved by following this very important guideline:
Focus on enjoyment of the process over the end results.
Much of modern life is results oriented. When we conduct business thinking only about profit, abuse our planet’s resources for the sake of modern comforts or follow a compulsive exercise program, it is easy to forget that the true rewards come from appreciation of the journey rather than accumulation of tangible results.
Ask any burned-out business executive with no fitness, poor health, a divorced family, alienated business associates, and 10 million dollars in the bank if the sacrifice was worth the fat bank account. (Okay…make that 200 thousand dollars in the bank and then ask.)
Ask yourself if the compulsive behavior patterns, disappointment with slow progress and sub-par workouts, and struggles with injuries are worth the obsession placed on results. To gain some perspective you need only look at someone who isn’t even able to sit on a bicycle and pedal to appreciate the gift of physical exercise.
To train yourself to appreciate the process and let go of the outcome, follow these steps:
1. Consider living your life as if you were watching a great movie. You experience all the emotional highs and lows, shed tears of sadness and tears of joy. But then the movie is over, you leave the theatre and go on with your life. Every day is a new movie to be enjoyed and appreciated, regardless of the outcome.
2. Tape a note with this goal in a prominent place: “I exercise to challenge myself physically, experience a healthy lifestyle and learn and grow as a person. I strive for results but release my attachment to outcome.”
3. Become aware of your bodily feedback, your thoughts and your emotions related to exercise. A champion athlete who feels the slightest twinge in a muscle or a tickle of a sore throat alters her routine to avoid illness or injury. If you don’t feel like exercising, you may be on the verge of burnout. Consider resting instead of forcing your body to do something against your intuition.