Finding Purpose & Motivation

In the last 3 weeks, I have sprained my ankle, badly bruised my knee, and got hit in the face with a soccer ball… hard enough to give me a bloody nose and leave me sore a few days later.

bruised knee

bruised knee (1.5 weeks later)

I'm pretty proud of this one. Soccer ball imprint on my leg hung around for almost a month!

I’m pretty proud of this one. Soccer ball imprint on my leg hung around for almost a month!

Needless to say, I haven’t iced this much in a LONG time, maybe ever, and I LOVE it. Maybe not the actual injuries and icing, but getting back into playing? Oh yeah…

See, I actually grew up an athlete. Then in college, I wasn’t playing any sports and that’s when I found lifting and the rest is history.

So back to today where I have recently started playing indoor soccer again. Maybe it’s all the time icing or maybe it was the ball to the face, but it’s gotten me thinking about some things that I wanted to share with you guys.

1) Getting older doesn’t have to mean feeling older

Did you know it’s actually been shown that loss of energy and muscle has less to do with age and more to do with inactivity? As we grow up and the responsibilities start piling up, one of the first things to go is physical activity. Inactivity, not age, is more often the cause of loss of muscle, balance, and coordination.

In Z-Health, we talk a lot about the SAID principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand). This simply means that the body was made to adapt to it’s circumstances and therefore, you will get really good at the things you do the most. In other words, in order to be efficient, the body works on a use-it-or-lose-it type of system. If you sit at a desk all day, your body is going to get really good at that. If you balance on your hands a lot, your body will get really good at that. Balance, coordination, speed, and agility are all a use-it-or-lose-it-type of skill.

Even being in pretty good overall shape, getting back into soccer has been rough for me. I’d even been doing sprints, but I seriously thought I might die during the first few games! Because sprinting in a straight line with no one else around is not the same thing as a fast-paced contact sport that requires eye-foot coordination, balance, speed, and agility for 40+ minutes.

With that being said, I know my training is helping me catch up more quickly. I might be slower than I used to be, but I’m not as slow as I would be if I hadn’t been working out the last 12 years. I’m definitely stronger and that has absolutely been an advantage. (Except in basketball: my shot is completely off now that I’m stronger in my upper body!)

My point here is twofold: first of all, stop using your age as an excuse. If you want to do something but are thinking  “I’m too old for that”, stop it! Yes, it might take you a little longer to catch on, but that doesn’t mean you can’t! Get out there and do it!

Second, if you want to be good at something, you have to do it. If you want to be good at soccer, you have to play soccer. All the “functional training” in the world will not make you better at a skill without performing that specific skill some times. Which leads me to my next thought….

2) Find what inspires you. Find your WHY.

Have you ever sat down and really thought through why you workout? Or has it always been just about achieving a certain look or number on the scale?

For me, it definitely started out as the latter. I used to follow fitness models and read fitness magazines. Sure, I liked that I slept better and it put me in a better mood, but if I’m being completely honest what I really wanted to was just to look great.

However, as time has passed and I’ve grown up and added in the adult responsibilities :), just looking great was no longer enough to keep me motivated and inspired. For one, I was so stuck on this unrealistic ideal image I had in my head that I was constantly battling discontentment and comparison. How I currently looked didn’t necessarily matter because as long as I didn’t look like “that”, it wasn’t good enough. So I put this constant pressure on myself of always looking for change and improvement. In my mind, if I wasn’t getting closer to that image, I wasn’t improving. Sound familiar to anyone? If not a certain look, perhaps a certain number on the scale?

Secondly, as my priorities started to change (and as much as I might like to look like a fitness model), it was just not as important as other things to me anymore.

As this shift happened, it became less about the look and more about what my body could do. It’s about being fit and strong in order to sustain a certain quality of life. Yes, I would still like to look good, but even more than that, I want to be able to play sports and climb mountains and experience life to the fullest. And I want to be able to do all of it for as long as possible. (Use it or lose it, remember?)

This mindset shift was HUGE for me. It brought enjoyment back into my workouts. Nowadays, it’s a lot less about what my body looks like and more about what my body can do. Instead of fitness models, I’m inspired by the 86-year-old woman who still does gymnastics and the old man who’s still playing indoor soccer. I have a much deeper purpose behind my training and that’s what keep me going. It motivates me during the crazy busy times and inspires me in the really low times. These reasons help me choose the healthier option and have in turn led to maintaining my physique as well.

There are all sorts of benefits outside of physique change that you will receive from working out:

  • Better sleep
  • Better digestion
  • Increased strength
  • Injury prevention
  • Better balance
  • Clearer skin
  • Hormone balance
  • Improved mood
  • Improved cognitive function (attention span, memory, reading, learning, etc.)
  • More energy
  • Better cardiovascular function & endurance (i.e. not getting out of breath just from walking up the stairs)

It’s a question that’s worth sitting down and giving it some thought: What inspires you? What’s your deeper purpose for doing what you do? What’s your WHY?

My sister and I were 4 years apart in school so we never played sports together. Now, some 12 years after school, we are playing together and it is so much fun!

After a game. My sister and I were 4 years apart in school so we never got to play together. Now, 12 later, we are playing together and it is so much fun!


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