Reflection #3: Physical Health

Despite my love for junk food, I have always had an interest in leading a healthy life. Mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Over the past few weeks I have really been trying to get in touch with what that means to me. I decided (despite my anxiety) I would like to begin sharing those thoughts and experiences with you. I will begin with a summary of my physical life experience.

As early as I can remember I loved being active: running around the farm with my brothers and our imaginary games, participating in intramurals throughout elementary and middle school, after school basketball, curling, soccer and volleyball teams. I think I was even in jazz for a year or two. Apart from that, I was outside every chance I got.

After graduation came a year of university, three years in the workforce, two years of college. Never being exposed to “working out” in a gym, a few months into college I had a startling revelation. I had barely done any physical activity in the last four years! This honestly shocked me, how does this happen after a childhood so immersed in physical activity?

It made me feel sad and stupid. How could I let such an important part of my life disappear? Why didn’t I fight harder to make time for it? I suppose my priorities changed – as they do with many teenagers. This felt like a lame excuse to me.

Good news was, I could exercise whenever I wanted. I had to laugh at myself though. Twenty-two years old and I had never been to a gym with treadmills, weight benches and whatever all of those other crazy contraptions were. I had experienced all of my physical activities outside.

During my second semester of college I decided that I would take a yoga class once per week, in addition to my full time studies. I had always wanted to try it, a classmate accompanied me and.. It was great. I loved the quietness and focus it took. It was incredibly difficult, my legs and arms trembled and spasmed as I attempted to hold the poses. My face went red as I glanced around the room, worried someone would notice my inexperience and call me out. They never did.

That’s the beauty of yoga, you start where you’re at and progress as your body adapts. There is no right or wrong, just the persistence to not give up. Also, the added bonus of everyone focusing on themselves – not you! My competitive nature helped me catch on quickly and after a few classes my body welcomed the challenge. I think it missed exercise too. My favourite part of yoga was how awake and energetic my mind felt after each class. The 8 week program was soon over and I immersed myself in my studies, quickly forgetting about exercise.

Near the end of my third semester a couple friends invited me to come to the gym with them, a place foreign to me with mystical machines strategically placed in a huge room. It took a little getting used to, but it was a lot of fun with my friends and I felt great after every workout!

Unfortunately, school ended and I again found myself not exercising. I realized my physical activity was tied to interactions with friends. I bought a 3 month gym membership (hoping the financial burden would motivate me to use it daily). I did a pretty good job of sticking to my routine, and felt great after every workout! However, when my membership expired I couldn’t justify renewing it to spend a small fortune on exercises I could probably just do at home.

Long story short, I truly miss exercise when I abstain from it, and I ALWAYS feel great after a workout. So why the difficulty staying committed? Why is finding motivation such a struggle for me? Why do I let the day-to-day take over, instead of setting aside time for such a significant gift to my well-being? My INFJ self-improvement voice be thinking, “I will speak daggers to her”.

Expect some goals (and progress!) from me in the near future, the “voice” demands it.

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Do you lack motivation? Have you had a similar struggle? How is your physical health? Feel free to share your stories and make some goals with me! If you need help with that, check out my recent post: INFJ: Self-Improvement.

Be beautiful, be you. Shine on, friends. ♥

INFJ: Self-Improvement

Do you ever get those days where you find yourself staring into space wondering, what am I doing with my life? You think about your current situation; how you got there and where you want to be. You sift through some alternate realities where you are happier: perhaps travelling, enjoying a new hobby or making time for yourself. Or you want to be healthier: exercising, eating healthy foods that taste great or spending more time looking inward (trying to become more at peace with yourself and mindful of the present moment).

If you are an INFJ, you know what I’m talking about. In some shape or form you find yourself living a life of assessing and reassessing. Reaching for more or better, trying to be the best you can be! Never escaping that nagging feeling that you just need to improve yourself a little bit more.

Don’t get me wrong – it can be great! In fact, it’s made you who you are today. You may have even tamed your nagging voice to work to your advantage: motivating you to live the life you’ve always dreamed! You may accomplish goals and feel satisfied with a job well done, as you rightfully should.

BUT for some it can be a nuisance. The nagging voice can say “you’re not good enough” or “you need to achieve more”. It can become an insatiable void that never gets filled. Some may start to live their lives trying to ignore or silence the voice that brings them down.

Don’t give up, there is hope!

As an INFJ and HSP (highly sensitive person) I can be intense, a perfectionist, have high standards for myself and others. I am also often looking to grow, evolve and improve myself. At times, the amount of improvements I want to make can get overwhelming and cause the opposite effect – avoiding it altogether.

To aid in following through and quieting the nagging voice I chose 5 ways to take control of your self-improvement:

1. Start a list

My go-to for most decisions. It helps me “get out of my head” and lay out my options on paper to feel in control. Try beginning with areas you want to improve and why (reasons help motivate change). Or make a pros and cons list to help you decide where to start.

2. Create S.M.A.R.T. goals

I learnt this little lovely during my child and youth care program. S – specific, M -measurable, A – attainable, R – realistic, T – time lined. It is important to use SMART goals to help you create achievable ones. Setting yourself up for failure is a sure fire way to avoid self-improvement. Break a big goal into mini goals to measure the progress you are making – and don’t forget to make a specific time line of what you want to complete (by when) to help you measure your progress and stay on track!

3. Rewards, rewards, REWARDS!

Dearest INFJ’s, you spend so much time working hard, helping others and improving yourselves that you forget to reward yourself. It is important to take a step back from our busy lives to replenish our energies and find some time for fun. So come up with a list (see step 1) of rewards that will motivate you. These don’t have to be expensive, in fact I encourage self-care rewards, whatever that might mean to you! This can be playing with pets, candlelit bubble baths, spending time in nature, taking time for yourself, etc. In fact, one of your goals may be taking more time for self-care! This is very much needed to aid us in living a healthy and happy life.

4. Make mistakes

Accept this, it will happen – we’re not perfect and that is okay! Laugh it off, give yourself permission to mess up. Don’t let it bring you down or stop you from trying. Acknowledge that in order to become the best version of yourself, there are going to be set backs, mistakes and moments where you feel like giving up. That’s okay, that’s life, do it anyway.

5. Have fun!

This is your life, you are the one that is living it! Ensure that you choose goals that interest you, the ones that will help you be the happiest and most fulfilled version of yourself. Smile and thank yourself for taking this time to be open to the opportunity for self-improvement that is meaningful to you, or for just being open to new ideas.

Feel like sharing?

I would love to hear about your journey with self-improvement! Be it your achievements, setbacks or works in progress. They all make up who we are. What helps you? What hinders you?

Share your stories friends.
With love, shine on. ♥