Imagine yourself walking down a decorated aisle with ceremonial music playing in the background. All of your friends and family are sitting on either side of you. When you get to the altar, facing you is a full-length mirror framed with beautiful flowers. It’s time to say your vows, to yourself. What promises would your body want to hear?
Perhaps it would go something like this: “I promise to love and cherish you, nourishing you with healthy food and taking you out for regular exercise sessions. I’ll make sure you get plenty of rest and keep you hydrated.” It might sound cheesy, but there are many analogies between marriage, wedding ceremonies and your commitment to fitness.
Breaking Vows With Yourself
A vow is a promise or an oath. People make commitments every day and yet they get broken or need to be renewed. Have you ever broken an exercise- or nutrition-related promise to yourself? We all have! The relationship you have with yourself and your body is one of the most valuable in your life, yet it is easily taken for granted.
The old saying goes, “You can’t love others until you love yourself.” When you’re feeling your best, you perform better at work, care for your family more lovingly and give back to your community.
Work your way through the following activities to renew your vows and improve your relationship with fitness.
Making Vows More Solid
The first key to having good health vows is stating them aloud. Even better, write them down. It’s easier to break a promise when it’s made casually. Set a timer for 30 minutes and write down vows to your body. Make the commitment in writing.
Use these questions to help you get started:
- How does my body support my daily life?
- How does my body want to feel?
- What foods make my body feel the way it wants to feel?
- How much daily exercise makes my body feel its best?
- When do I feel most energized and happy?
Now, have some fun and read your vows aloud in the mirror.
Creating Vows With Meaning
Everyone knows they should do cardio, lift weights and be flexible, but there’s more to it than that. Strong health vows need to have deep and personal meaning. The reasons underpinning one’s exercise efforts are different for each person. The better you understand your own desires to be fit, the more committed you’ll be.
Answer these questions (bonus for writing them down):
- Why do I exercise?
- How does exercise benefit me specifically?
- What are the outcomes of exercise that are most important to me?
- What meals give me the most energy and focus?
- Why do I want to have energy?
After answering each question, read your response aloud and ask yourself, “Why?” For example, if you exercise because it keeps your weight down, ask yourself why that’s important and see what comes to mind. We all have surface reasoning for exercising, but sometimes we need to dig for the deeper meaning.
As in marriage, knowing why the relationship is important helps get you through tough times. For example, you generally love your partner or your kids. Recognizing the specific joy they bring to your life as individuals is what keeps you bonded to one another through thick and thin.
When you contemplate the true value of being fit, as it pertains to you personally, it becomes easier to stick with your exercise habits, even on the days when you don’t feel like it.
Sharing Vows With Others
Couples gather their loved ones together at weddings because it’s fun, makes it more real and enables them to make a public commitment to one another. It’s harder to break a promise when you have a solid support community. With this in mind, it’s time to send some invites.
Write down a list:
- Who would you invite to your “health vows ceremony”?
- Who do you know that exhibits consistently healthy habits?
- Who could you invite to a weekly walk, hike or bike ride?
- What fitness classes (aerobics, dance, weights) would you enjoy attending?
- What type of activity group (hiking, biking) could you join?
Now, make some phone calls and get together with supportive people for a walk or inquire about local classes you can join. Exercising with others makes it feel like a team effort instead of you verses your workout, week after week. Take action now!
Celebrating Your Vows
People celebrate their months, years and decades of marriage. These milestones keep them enthusiastic about the hard work they do to stay happy. Set weekly or monthly fitness goals for yourself, so that you can keep the vows you’ve made. Consider hiring a personal trainer or health coach to conduct fitness assessments with you to help set your goals.
The benefits of daily movement—such as enhanced mood, better sleep and improved energy—are not easily measured. Instead, set a time goal for each week. Choose how many minutes of exercise to do or how many steps to take (using a pedometer).
Again, write down your goals:
- What are your weekly and monthly goals for fitness?
- What can you do to celebrate your health goals?
- How often do you want to celebrate and with whom?
Take an oath with your own body and enhance the one relationship that supports everything else in your life.