“I just exercise to be healthy”
I call bullsh*t.
I am not questioning the importance of exercise for health. But if you are having trouble staying consistent with your exercise goals, it’s probably because you are relying on “good health” being a strong motivator. It’s not.
Health is subjective, and it’s no surprise successful people in the fitness industry all have specific goals. Those who claim they only exercise for good health are either lying about their true motivator, or aren’t as consistent as you think.
My grandfather has walked 5km every day since his bypass surgery in 2002. It took having a near death experience to get him to change. If someone told him 5 years earlier to start walking to avoid a heart attack, believe me he would not have stuck to it.
So what about the rest of us who are relatively young, and seemingly nowhere close to a heart attack?
Without good goals, your reasons for showing up to a gym are non-existent. The best physiques and consistency is found in those training for a sport, or preparing for an event like a wedding … or divorce court. If you want to exercise regularly, you need to find a specific, meaningful and measurable purpose.
Good health is not specific or meaningful
You have diabetes, but you exercise. Your sister doesn’t have diabetes, yet never exercises. Who is healthier?
If two neighbours died at the age of 45 from a heart attack, one had a balanced diet and the other ate cured meats for breakfast, was one really “healthier” in the end?
What environment and circumstances did you grow up in, or continue to live in? Have you ever stopped to think why 90% of female instagram gym rats seem to be white, cis-gendered, with a roof over their head and loving parents who support them? No.
Health is not concrete or definitive. One week, health can mean not being anxious, the next week it can mean a balanced diet or not having a runny nose.
Good health is not measurable
You don’t wake up every day and say wow, I feel like my blood pressure has improved, can’t wait to go hit the gym again.
As a trainer when someone would show up and say “I just want to be healthy,” we all knew they weren’t lasting more than 3 months, if that.
This is why naturally lean girls who never experienced weight issues are the worst clients. They say they don’t care about improving strength, don’t care for much muscle, don’t have much fat, don’t want to do any cardio, and they eat like a 6 year old at grandma’s house… but they all want to look like a Gym Shark model.
This leaves you with no variables to track to motivate them to continue.
So what is “Good Health?”
No one knows. The concept is flawed, too broad and dependent on context. Everyone knows good goals need to be Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timed, yet striving for “good health” does not hit any of the criteria.
Finding a solution
Making strength my number one priority pulled me from the rut, but it may not be your thing and that’s fine. It’s a meaningful, personal goal.
I know why I lift and it has little to do with health, although it supports it. My reason to get up and train is to increase my powerlifting total by remaining consistent, avoiding injury and putting on muscle.
I was inspired to try it because of others, but I definitely don’t do it to please anyone. If I listened to those around me I would probably have to take up knitting instead.
Find your why
If your doc has told you to exercise for good health, understand good health is the result, not the motivator. You are setting yourself up for failure otherwise. “Good health” should be put in the box of crappy goals along with “have abs” or “to look like _____.”
If you truly want to integrate physical activity into your life, you need to find the type of physical activity that makes you excited to train, builds your confidence, improves your performance in some way, and one you are willing to prioritize over other things in life.
And if you don’t care to find a meaningful reason to move, then don’t complain to people about your lack of motivation to exercise.
No one has 24/7 motivation, those of us who stick to it long term do it because we know the details of our WHY, and that why is NOT subjective, superficial or dependent on external praise.