By Erika Taylor
Here come those days! It’s dark. It’s damp. It’s downright chilly. And my bed covers are so delightfully cozy.
Why on earth would I tousle the dog from my feet and leave my cocoon just to get my physical therapy in? Surely, I can make time for it later. Why, indeed. If your motivation is waning along with the warmth of summer, you are not alone.
When we wake up to darkness outside, it feels less natural to hop out of bed. Metabolisms slow during the colder months. And when the sun sets before we’re home, it may be less inviting to lace up those shoes and head out to move at the end of our day. Sunlight triggers the release of hormones in our brains, boosting mood and helping us feel focused.
Darkness cues our brain to sleep. So no wonder! It is normal to feel a bit “meh” this time of year.* So, why would we skip the snooze and make time for our wellness practice even in the face of reduced motivation? Why?
This is the question we have to answer. In the colder months, a Paleolithic man would have largely retreated to his cave, hunkered down, and ventured out only when driven by hunger. His life would conform to the natural rhythms of the planet. But not ours.
Our lives don’t slow down in the winter, but since we are no longer spurred to rise before the sun by the need to hunt down our food, many of us struggle to stick with the wellness routines we established during the warmer, brighter months.
The Paleolithic man’s alarm clock was his rumbling tummy. His workout was procuring food. He didn’t rely on motivational techniques, coaches, or accountability groups. He moved because he had to. Avoiding starvation was why he ran.
All we have to do today is make a few clicks and our dinner shows up. No running required. So, why would we? Our list of reasons for practicing wellness are as diverse as we are. Injury or illness. Becoming a parent. Insurance discounts.
Waking up one morning and discovering our favorite pants don’t button. These are all inspiring reasons. And inspiration is a good start. The word inspire means “to breathe life into.” Things that inspire us make us feel motivated. Shedding 10 pounds prior to a beach vacation may be inspiring, but it’s not likely to get us out of our cozy beds once the bikini is a distant memory.
If we are going to crawl out of our caves when motivation wanes, we need a reason as compelling as our ancestors had. We need a “rumbling tummy.” A solid “why” is the sense of purpose that compels us to push forward, even when it requires sacrifice. It guides us in creating habits.
When a client says, “I want to start exercising,” my first question is always the same. “Why?” The answer is usually something like “to lose weight” or “to gain more energy.”
Again, my question to them is: “Why?” I keep asking until we get to the root; something like “I need more energy so I can parent patiently,” or “to control my blood sugar because I am at risk of premature death.” If you are looking for that thing that will compel you to skip the snooze button, ask: “What do I value?
What would being unwell take from my life? Who in my life needs me?”
The answers to these questions may change over time, mine sure have, but they will always help us find that metaphorical rumble in our own tummy. And once we get that, no snooze button in the world can stand in our way.
*A case of the winter blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) are very different things. SAD is a serious medical condition in which a person experiences major depression. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting help for this. Talk to your doctor, teacher, clergy, or visit mhanational.org. Erika Taylor is a community wellness instigator at Taylored Fitness.
Taylored Fitness believes that everyone can discover small changes in order to make themselves and their communities more vibrant. Visit facebook. com/erika.taylor.303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Erika Taylor is a community wellness instigator at Taylored Fitness. Visit facebook.com/erika.taylor.303 or email email@example.com.