Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How do you develop passion?

I spent 32 years of my life avoiding exercise.  Well, maybe those first few years I was a force to be reckoned with, but my earliest childhood memories are of me avoiding exercise.  I was the fat kid.  The kid who always came in last.  The kid who really had zero physical talents, although I had a pretty impressive tumbling roll that showed up whenever I tried to run.

I pursued my other gifts, talents and passions.  Education.  Helping others.  Kindness.  And I did well at them.  But my life was missing something.

I would see friends going on adventures.  Hikes!  Kayaking!

Friends were participating in organized sports.

And I avoided it all.  And I honestly felt sad.  But embarrassed at the same time.  There was no way at 320lbs I could hike.  Heck, I could barely climb a set of stairs without being winded.  Kayak?  Um no.  I was over the weight limit by a hundred pounds.  Organized sports?  I was way too embarrassed to even think about signing up for anything.

But now, at 35 years old, I am trying to fill that void in my life.  That part of myself that wants to make up for lost time.  I want to be physically fit.  I want to be strong.  I want to find something active that I am passionate about.

I read a blog post by the highly insightful Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson last week.  Here is the one part has really had me thinking:

"If you want true fitness you need to find a sport you love and develop a fitness program around getting better at it. Suddenly your efforts will have real purpose. It does not matter what the sport is so long as it puts a smile on your face."

So what do I want to do?  What will give my efforts purpose?

Over the last three years I have been trying out a lot of new activities.

I now snowshoe.  Enjoy it and I love being outside in winter!
I skate.  Meh, it is okay and I will keep doing it because my boys like to skate.  
I play squash!  I think I love this above and beyond anything else I do for exercise.
I ran.  Yep.  I did a 5k this summer.  Hated almost every minute of it.
I paddle.  Got a kayak this summer and loved it.
I do cardio and weights in the gym.  I want to enjoy this more because of my desire to be strong.

But how do I become deeply passionate about these?  I just don't know.  Maybe the passion will just start to grow?  I want my day to day exercising to have more meaning.  I want my time at the gym to be more focused into pursing my unknown passion.

And maybe I just need to combine passions.  I am still working on my personal trainer and nutrition coach certifications and should be done by next fall.  Helping people is something I am really good at.  Maybe my time at the gym working on myself can help me become more passionate about helping others when the time comes.

I am also overcoming 35 years of avoiding exercise.  Is it just bad habits and that dark side of my brain telling me I don't want to do it/can't do it?  Do I actually love running but am just telling myself I hate it?  Wait.  No.  I really do hate it.   How do I break out of my embarrassment at being horrible at sports?  How do I overcome not being a natural athlete?  How does I not become discouraged at coming in last?

So what am I going to do?  I guess just keep on doing what I am doing and hope that one of these activities really starts to become a part of my life that I cannot live out.  A part of my life that inspires me to live healthier and gives my efforts purpose.  And I don't want to go back to being 320lbs.  I need this active part of my life now. 


Nicole said...

I don't think this is something that's limited to people with weight issues - I've always been skinny and always disliked sports.
I do love being out in the bush and seeing wildlife, and I love being out on the water. I love dogs. So while I do go on hikes, walk my dogs every day and go on kayak trips, and love all these activities, I'm NOT passionate about the actual excercise part and don't think I ever will be.
And why should I? There are people who are passionate about sports (for unfathomable reasons to me), some who are passionate about cooking, car racing and all sorts of things that bore me to death. Yet I do cook, drive (responisbly) etc. Different people have different passions - mine are animals and nature, and within those passions is a place for physical activity. But it makes no sense to me at all that one MUST find passion for excercise. It's like saying you MUST be passionate about doing your taxes. Some people actually like bookkeeping, most don't. And what about people who do hard physical work all day, are they supposed to then still go and play sports at night?
Just do the things you love and let excercise be part of them :)

Sarah N said...

I like this conversation. Whether you're overcoming 35 years of inactivity or a new university graduate, or you're in any other "find yourself" stage of life, this is all applicable. One of my mentors said when it comes to passion, start with curiosity. Star with what piques your interest slightly. Try it. If it's not for you, you haven't wasted time, you've just narrowed your focus of what fulfills you (or doesn't!) I grew up hating team sports. I still don't like them. I put too much pressure on myself. so when it comes to keeping my heart and body active, I do what I have found enjoyable: yoga and running. I try different things, i spice it up with hiking, swimming, snowshoeing and other things I like, but am not passionate about. Running and yoga still require a lot of motivation and commitment, but when I am finished, I feel like a million bucks, for all the right reasons. I don't know if that means I am passionate about them, but they sustain my health, and keep my mind balanced (which is saying a lot when I live with 4 tiny dictators!)

Miranda Hughes said...

I agree with the previous comments: I think passion is over-rated. I don't think the bar needs to be set that high. Sure, some people become passionate about a particular sport or activity, and that passion becomes their answer to staying fit. But I don't think passion is necessary for sustaining a good fitness and activity level.

Over the past 6 years or so I've been successful in going from a pretty sedentary lifestyle to being quite fit and active. For the past five years except during occasional illnesses or injuries I've probably done three to five hours of exercise a week, minimum. At this point I wouldn't say I'm passionate about any of the activities I do, but I'm interested enough in them, and find some intrinsic enjoyment in them, and appreciate how they make me feel, that overall I do fine maintaining my fitness.

Jozien Keijzer said...

Hi, i too love this conversation, haha am very passionate about the topic.
Ehh me being fit and all...for me the passion is not really in the activity, it is... in being out there. I have a passion for mountain tops and the satisfaction of having reached them by my own means. and the exhilaration of a body pushed to the limit and now on the top there at rest. Many passions really but NOT a passion for the walking itself, you will only find me on a treadmill if it is something i do with someone else for the fun.
I am for reasons now into Pilates (i have always shunned exercising for the sake of exercising).But a few years ago when depressed i learned by just doing something every day for the sake of doing it, my body actually starts craving it. And then learning to listen to my body, it is easy to override the urge to do my Pilates, but i won't because i believe in it. And taking the time, there are always other things that seem more important at that exact moment. It's a complex thing. When i quit smoking, a little book by Allen... helped me a lot, i found it applies to many things in life we struggle with.
Hey Tara, you are on the right track! Awareness is half the battle.
Oh one more thing, i walk with my boss after work on wednesdays. We both often feel very tired of the stress at work (our work is physically and mentally very intense), yet we know once we are on the millennium trail, we feel invigorated, and our evening is better because of it.