Congruence – something many of us strive for but struggle to achieve. The lack of it is a huge source of anxiety for many people; when your actions are not aligned with your values or goals, it creates inner conflict. For example, if you believe in honesty, but you end up lying, you will feel anxious and guilty. This concept applies to most things in life, but for the sake of relevance, I’m going to talk about how this is applicable to fitness and health. You want to train or eat better or look a certain way, but your lifestyle just doesn’t fit with achieving your goals. Sound familiar? The purpose of this piece is to help you explore your motivation behind your goals, and where the conflict is, so that you can hopefully attain more congruence in your life.
Questioning And Rearranging Your Goals
Before you start looking at your actions, have a think for a second about what drives you. What is it exactly that you want to achieve and why? What do these goals mean to you? And how important are they? If you’re finding it difficult to answer some of these questions, then another way to explore this area is by projecting into the future and thinking about what it is that you want to see different in your life. If you imagine your life or yourself 5 years from now, what would you like to see? And how does it feel to imagine your life like that? Think about all the things that you have to let go of or go through to achieve those goals and ask yourself if you’re willing to do that. Usually, when a person is internally motivated to change, and that vision is highly important, that person is more likely to achieve it and sustain the change.
The Meaning of Authenticity
The changes you need to make to achieve your goals depend largely on your intentions and who you want to be. If you want to train mostly to have fun, then make sure you are doing something you actually enjoy! If you don’t know what it is that you enjoy, then explore different activities for a period of time and step out of your comfort zone. As long as you have an open mind, you should find things you'll enjoy. If what you do feels like a punishment or an obligation, that suggests that your goals are not aligned with your actions, and you will most likely stop eventually. So either change your goals, or the activities you’re engaging in.
If you want to be a competitive athlete, then you have to live like one. That means that your training, nutrition, and recovery are going to have to take priority over many of the other things you might enjoy such as going out drinking, staying up late, and eating whatever you want, whenever you want. You might find yourself spending less time with your usual circle of friends because your lifestyles don’t align, but hopefully you will also make new friends who have similar goals as you. These are some of the things that you will need to be willing to go through to fulfill your aspirations, and so this lifestyle may seem unappealing and unlikely to make you happy. However, if this is truly who you are or who you want to be, then you will actually be happier living authentically than pursuing momentary pleasures that aren’t aligned with your core.
If you want to train mainly for overall health and fitness, then that also comes with a whole package of lifestyle changes you need to be willing to make. Granted, you will most likely still be able to have more of a work/life/training balance in terms of socializing and the “traditional” meaning of having fun, but that still doesn’t mean that there won’t be any “suffering” involved. Looking and feeling a certain way isn't only a result of exercising, but rather a considerable chunk of the work comes from what you eat and how you live. Finding the time to train is also one common challenge, and so this is where you need to reassess how much you value your health and wellbeing, and what areas in your life you can shift around or let go of to honor yourself and make time for it.
Sometimes you may feel frustrated with the outcome or the process – like you want to be stronger than you actually are, but your lifestyle is not aligned with getting you there. It’s easy to come up with excuses and blame other factors, but if you really want to change, then take a closer look at your goals and your actions. If they are not congruent, then one of them needs to be re-examined. Ultimately, the goal is for the change to not feel like a continuous effort, but rather for it to be integrated into your life and become part of what defines you as a person. In other words, if you want to be an athlete, then be an athlete.
None of this is aimed to discourage you – on the contrary, it is aimed to encourage you to really look deeply into what it is that you want and what you are doing to get there. Often we reach a point in life where we find ourselves stuck or lost, and feel empty or dissatisfied. This usually happens because we are not living authentically, and we avoid dealing with difficult emotions or decisions in life. The truth isn’t always pleasant or even comfortable to deal with, but the sooner you are willing to confront it, the easier it will be to be happy.
Maha is a Psychosexual and Relationship counsellor who grew up in Lebanon, studied in London, and has been living in Dubai since 2013. She has always been active and involved in sports even from a very young age, but her interests evolved into more nature-based activities with time. She is extremely passionate about adventure, the outdoors, and fitness in general, and mostly enjoys Rock Climbing, Olympic Weightlifting, Mountaineering and Hiking, Traveling, Snowboarding, and High Intensity Training. She finds engaging in challenging activities and being connected to nature to be very therapeutic, and aspires to continue to grow through these experiences. Seeing and feeling the changes and benefits of this lifestyle herself, she hopes to inspire others to step out of their comfort zone and live a more healthy, passionate, and fulfilling life by sharing her own journey and adventures.