We all know that exercising is important to our health, but have you heard about the importance of innercise?
Or are you thinking, “What the heck is innercise?”
Innercise is a term coined by John Assaraf that refers to exercising your mental muscles.
The truth is, motivating ourselves to exercise can be tough, but a big reason for that is because we aren’t using all of our inner mind muscles. We tend to rely on two mental muscles - willpower and discipline. These two are useful when it comes to making decisions or starting a new healthy habit. But how much do you work those muscles out?
What I have learned in 12+ years working as a personal trainer is that success or failure is 90% in the mind. Why do you think people always say, “The hardest part of a workout is getting started”? Because it’s your mind that gets you started or stops you. But here’s the really cool news, even if it’s not with exercise you can use the same mental priming to set yourself up for success in every arena of your life.
Seeing that it’s your mind that starts or stops you, that's the subject that influences your success or failure. If you can train your brain to focus on the desire within the experience, your brain will improve it’s success rate
LEARN ABOUT YOUR WHY
We KNOW exercising is good for us, but we often struggle to do what’s good for us, especially when it conflicts with what we want. So ask yourself, WHY do you want to be healthy or fit? How do you think your life will change if you become healthier or fitter?
Give yourself 3-5 minutes to really think about your answer. Write it down if you want to. Did your answer involve a feeling? Maybe something like, “I want to be healthy so I can feel confident and happy in my own skin”?
What this point to is what you truly want is to feel happy in your own skin, confident and capable and you’re attaching your health or image as the modality to achieve that.
THIS IS IMPORTANT! I have seen client after client struggle and feel disappointed when they actually achieve their goal because they don’t understand this message. I’ve had clients lose 70lbs and still not be happy…. Why? Because they’re using an outdated equation.
Inside problems require inside solutions. If you want to feel confident, capable and happy in your own body, that indicates you’re NOT feeling that currently. This you’re feeling a lack of confidence, lack of capabilities and you’re not happy in your own skin. Achieving an image won't’ truly satisfy that need because it’s an outside solution.
Think of it like this, if you were feeling depressed, you’d likely see a social worker over a physical therapist. Similarly if you’re low back is hurting you’re more apt to see a physical therapist rather than a social worker. Why? Because in that aspect you understand outside pain requires an outside solution. Talking about your back pain wont’ do anything, just like stretching won't’ fix your depression.
So when it comes to identifying your why, understand which world it’s in so you can actually tend to the need you’re having.
FOCUS ON THE JOURNEY
How do you do that? By exercising a key mental muscle in the health tool kit, FOCUS! I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, what you focus on grows and this couldn’t be more important when it comes to your success with exercise.
Using my above example, if you know that your motivation within your desire to be healthy is to FEEL capable, confident and happy in your own skin, that is what you need to focus on. When you focus on the image you’ve made up in your head you’ll be dissatisfied.
Those clients I mentioned above who lose 10, 20, 70, 100lbs and were still dissatisfied, it’s not because they didn’t make progress. It’s not because they didn’t reach their goal. It’s because they thought they would FEEL something when they got there.
Working to be healthy and lose weight is HARD work, and I want to set you up for success. So if what you want to feel is confident, capable and happy in your own skin, that is what you need to focus on every time you move your body.
I’m not saying that exercising is the “wrong” modality to achieve those feelings, but I am saying if you aren’t aware of what’s really driving you and you only focus on the image, you’ll create an unhealthy relationship with exercise.
SOOOOO each time you go to move your body, make it your intention to seek out the feelings you desire. Even if they aren’t 100%, grasp on to the glimmers of these emotions, as that will build a stronger mental front and cultivate a healthy, enjoyable relationship with movement.
NOT WHAT YOU WANT, WHAT YOU WANT TO FEEL
Which takes me to the other piece of the mental arsenal, your emotions. Regardless of what we’ve been taught about emotions, we are emotional beings. I’m not going to go into the brain science of it, but there is a conscious or subconscious emotional motivation behind everything we do.
We want to be healthy to FEEL _____, we want to get a promotion so we FEEL _____, we want to please other so we don’t feel ______….you get the idea.
Knowing that emotion drives our action, and the hardest part of working out is getting started, this is a space to prime your brain for success. We have all these random beliefs about what it takes to be healthy and/or lose weight.
We have to workout 5x a week for an hour as hard as possible, no pain-no gain, you have to do cardio 30 min everyday, etc. Honestly, it’s very different person to person and depends on their stress, sleep, hydration and mindset. What’s important is that you are intentional about moving your body.
So instead of trying to force yourself to exercise in a way you hate, think bigger, to the lifestyle of health you want to generate. If you can seek pleasure within your activities NOW, 10, 20, 30 years from now you’ll still WANT to exercise because you actually enjoy it.
What I have all my clients do is create a menu of the different types of movement in their day to day life and understand how the different emotions make them feel.
Imagine this, you wake up and tell yourself you’re going to workout after work, you pack your gym bag, you’re prepared and ready….. then life happens and you find yourself dreading going to the gym. You’re stressed and exhausted.
If that is where you are coming from and you have a menu that looks like this;
Cardio= weak + irritated
Yoga= calm + peaceful‘
Strength= empowered and capable
Which do you think would be more likely to get you to the gym? Probably not the cardio, right! Instead of focusing on what you want to do, focus on how you want to FEEL.
If you choose how to exercise based on how you want to feel, it feels like you’re working with your body, and your mind will be more likely to get you there. Because when you hear the thought, ugh I don’t want to go to the gym. You can answer back with, I get that, but I do want to feel peaceful and calm, and that will guide your brain.
WORK WITH YOURSELF
When we zoom out and use our mind to help us build the habits we desire, our success rate increases exponentially. Recognize your hidden motivator within what you desire and cut out the middle man. Seek those emotions within your experience.
Strengthen your focus muscle by searching for those emotional experiences AND being intentional to prime your mind for success with your second thought.
Create a menu within all the things you enjoy doing with movement and FOCUS on the habit, less on the specific action. It’s simple, pleasure + consistency= progress.
Being healthy doesn’t have to suck, when you loop in some innercise!