And then? The motivation begins to wane, and old habits begin to creep back in.
But can you imagine how much easier it’d be if we saw the physical benefits of exercising or healthy eating immediately? Imagine if, after every time we ate a can of spinach, our biceps bulged in a Popeye-esque fashion. It’d be a little easier to stay motivated, that’s for certain.
The thing is, physical exercise does have immediate benefits. Of course, this won’t be news to anyone who’s ever exercised. We know that exercise releases serotonin, endorphins and dopamine, which combine to form a mood-boosting, stress-busting and energy-enhancing cocktail. And that feels good.
Still, for many of us, those mental health benefits are often secondary to our physical goals. We exercise to ‘get fit’ – the ‘feeling good’ element is just a bonus.
But what if we flipped this perspective entirely on its head? What if, instead of hitting the gym with this vision of an athletic and muscular self in mind (a nice goal, but one that will take many months, even years, of effort), we hit the gym, took a hike, or went for a swim simply because we wanted to feel good, right now. How would that affect our motivation? And ultimately, how would that affect our ability to stick to our long-term physical goals?