By Dave Patania
Question: I have been exercising for many years in an attempt to look my best. I recently went through some experiences that caused me to not place much emphasis on looks. This has reduced my motivation to exercise. Any words of encouragement?
Answer: You need to put things into a different perspective. Our society's fixation with looks has everybody working out to attain the perfect body in attempt to garner praise, attention and desirable mates.
The focus is, unfortunately, on external "prizes" rather than intrinsic rewards. Great looks slowly fade as we age, no matter how much we exercise. When the looks are not what they used to be, many people forget about working out and staying active because they see no other benefit of staying healthy and active.
There is nothing wrong with looking good, but we must place as much importance on health - youthful appearances don't last but a youthful spirit does.
Benefits of exercise
It is also important to recognize the mental/emotional benefits of exercise. For example: I race bicycles, and a friend of mine said to me, "Dave, you don't make that much money racing bikes, so why do you travel all over the country, train as hard as you do and spend so much time riding and racing?" It didn't occur to her that I have a love and passion for riding, the people I ride with and what it does for my soul, my body and state of mind. She only noticed there was no tangible reward.
I can't tell you how many people tell me they used to be into the "exercise thing," but got out because their focus on looks wasn't as important now.
For people who stick with fitness, looks are only part of the equation. I don't stay active and race bicycles because I am a fitness professional, I am a fitness professional because I stay active and race bicycles. My participation and passion fuels my desire to help others get the same rewards that I get from keeping fit.
Age doesn't matter
I want everyone to feel the sense of accomplishment from a good workout or activity that they love to do. The stress relief, vitality, energy and positive reinforcement exercise gives cannot be bought or lost - you can get that same feeling at 100 years old from a brisk walk that you got from a long run when you were 20.
Your body was designed for physical activity. Find some activities you like, try new ones and shift your focus inward and you will find the needed motivation.
Contact certified personal trainer Dave Patania by e-mail:
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