Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

goals in mainstream fitness May 7, 2013

Filed under: wellness,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 1:12 pm
Tags: , ,

Earlier this week, Heather turned me on to this interesting post: It’s Time for a Makeover of Mainstream Fitness, by Ruthie Streiter. When Heather read it, it reminded her of the identity-based habits I was talking about earlier this year, and I agree completely.

First of all, I love that Streiter is advocating that people really think through their body’s particular needs and problems before embarking on an exercise program. So often, people take up a diet or fitness regimen just because it’s the latest fad, or it worked for a friend, but every body is different and has different needs. What is fantastic for one person’s body could be catastrophic for another, and result in no change at all for someone else. Planning out your exercise program in a thoughtful way can help you to save time and ensure that your actions will result in positive change – after all, who wants to spend hours on vigorous exercise if you don’t enjoy it (which is how most Americans feel about working out) and if it’s hurting you?

And Streiter’s article fits in well with the idea of identity-based habits. Remember, identity-based goals are the opposite of appearance-based goals (like “I want to lose ten pounds” or “I want a flatter tummy”). With an identity-based goal, you’re thinking, “I want to be a healthier person”, “I want to be a balanced person”, and, starting from there, you work on making healthier choices, day by day. Just starting out with that frame of mind could make the difference and keep you from throwing yourself into an exercise regime that’s not right for you. You’re not focusing all your energy on this one small aspect of yourself (your weight, your tummy), which could go wrong so easily; instead, you’re working on gradually changing your whole identity to that of a more healthful person, so you’ll naturally think in more holistic terms. And when you set an identity-based goal, the changes you make will last longer because you’re not only creating a new habit, you’re reinventing yourself, reimagining yourself, as a healthy sort of person, so your behavior will naturally come more and more in line with your goal.

A new month has just begun, and spring is springing up all over. It’s a great time to go play outside, enjoy the fresh air, and pick up the season’s first fresh produce at the farmers’ market. It’s a great time of year to think back on your New Year’s resolutions and recommit to working toward a balanced, healthy lifestyle in the way that’s best for you.


2 Responses to “goals in mainstream fitness”

  1. birdmaddgirl Says:

    I’ve been working a lot on a particular section of the Ashtanga Primary Series sequence the last few months (bhujapidasana through supta kurmasana). At first, I was thinking, I can do more in these poses, I just need to push myself harder. And while that was helpful in terms of shining a light on that part of the practice, it wasn’t until I began to think of the poses as gateways to improving upper body, core, and inner leg strength that I’ve started to see real progress. Will I feel awesome and accomplished on that magical day when I can tuck my legs behind my head? No doubt. But more than feeling like the cool kid, I will feel stronger and more capable in my own body. These broader ways of looking at goals are super useful!

    • R. H. Ward Says:

      I’m enjoying thinking of your comment in the context of appearance-based vs identity-based goals and envisioning “I want to tuck my legs behind my head” as an appearance-based goal, which I guess it really is. 🙂 But you’re right: as much as we want to show off our yoga prowess, what we really want is to be the kind of person who can tuck her legs behind her head, with all the balance and strength and calm implicit in a lifestyle that would lead to that level of flexibility.

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