Have you been working on your fitness routine this new year? Maybe you’ve found exercise you love, maybe you’ve carved out time for this exercise, and maybe you’re still having trouble staying motivated. WHY?? This should all be easier, right? There’s one thing you may not have considered when it comes to motivation, fitness, and weight loss – playing to your strengths.
PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS
So, when I say “play to your strengths” what I mean is something like if you’re a morning person, exercise as soon as you wake up, yes? Not exactly. Strengths in this instance refers to your character strengths. This might be a concept that you’re already familiar with but, if not, character strengths simply refer to the good qualities people possess – positive traits that show their strengths. A concept of those who practice positive psychology, the 24 character strengths are organized under 6 virtues and were first studied by Dr. Martin Seligman and Dr. Neil Mayerson.
These two doctors ended up creating the Values in Action Institute (VIA) on Character which identifies these character strengths that everyone has (though in varying degrees). It’s these strengths that you can use to optimize how you live your life from fitness motivation to weight loss, even to the type of job you’d love the most.
THE 24 STRENGTHS
The 6 virtues that character strengths are classified under are wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence.
Wisdom includes the following strengths:
- Love of Learning
Courage includes these strengths:
Humanity contains the strengths of:
- Social Intelligence
Justice holds the strengths of:
Temperance includes the following strengths:
And Transcendence holds the strengths of:
- Appreciation of Beauty
Each strength is fairly self-explanatory but you can find a deeper dive into each one on the VIA website.
STRENGTHS + MOTIVATION
Finding out where your character strengths lie can help you in a variety of ways. Knowing this will help you see how and why you are unique, plus understand how to build on your strengths to improve situations or outcomes. In fact, studies have shown that using your signature strengths in a new way each week increases happiness in only six months!
Knowing which character strengths you are strong in and which you need some work on can significantly improve your motivation when it comes to fitness and weight loss. Think about it – when it comes to sustaining weight loss or a fitness routine, what’s more important? External resources or your own inner resources?
Your inner resources are what allow outside treatments to work. Without self-regulation, you wouldn’t make it regularly to doctor appointments. Without perseverance, you’ll be unable to commit to an exercise routine. Perseverance, prudence and self-regulation are three of the biggest strengths you’ll need to utilize to overcome obstacles such as lack of impulse control or not wanting to workout in the course of maintaining weight loss and a fitness routine.
VIRTUOUS VS. VICIOUS CIRCLES
I mentioned above how perseverance, prudence, and self-regulation are all important strengths when it comes to maintaining weight loss and/or a fitness regimen. The reason all three are needed is because strengths play off each other (i.e. one strength boosts another which boosts another) in what is known as a virtuous circle. For example, the desire to plan meals and exercise (prudence) can lead to careful self-monitoring with a food log (self-regulation), which can then lead to an increase in confidence that enables you to push over the lethargy and negative thinking to go exercise (perseverance).
The other side of the equation is the vicious circle wherein strengths can work against a person and each other causing obstacles. For example, if one hasn’t set forth a plan for managing emotions (prudence) a stressor might trigger negative emotions that causes them to run to the cupboard and binge eat (lack of self-regulation). Follow that up with the realization they’ve deviated from the healthy choices they wanted to make and perseverance takes a hit.
THE ACT OF MINDFULNESS
How can you either activate a virtuous circle or avoid triggering a vicious circle? By deepening a mindfulness of your character strengths. Let’s use the previous examples of perseverance, prudence, and self-regulation in regard to weight loss and fitness and see how we can act with mindfulness in regards to them.
- Start by paying particular attention to these strengths and how they influence each other. Then think about how you might actively and consciously employ these strengths when it comes to diet and exercise.
- Activate the strength of self-compassion. Many who struggle with weight management or maintaining a fitness routine, do not treat themselves with the kindness they deserve (and need). Each time you slip and have that second bowl of ice cream or blow off your daily workout, be mindful of how you react. Don’t berate and negate yourself, instead treat yourself with compassion.
- Always consider your signature strengths. Your signature strengths are the strengths that are naturally the strongest in you. When you find yourself lacking in the motivation to do your daily workout or cook a healthier meal, look at your signatures to see how they might help. Whether it’s seeing the bigger picture (perspective) or considering new options (creativity, curiosity, or love of learning), using your signature strengths will help boost your lower ones.
LEARNING YOUR STRENGTHS
Are you excited to find out your character strengths and start incorporating them mindfully into your fitness routine and weight loss management? You should be – using these inner resources will help you reach a happier and healthier you! If you’re ready today to find out your strengths, all you have to do is take the FREE assessment with me. This self-assessment takes less than 15 minutes and provides a wealth of information to help you understand your best qualities. The result will be a personalized, in-depth analysis, plus actionable tips to apply your strengths to find greater well-being. What are you waiting for?
And if you’d like to discuss your results even further, schedule your FREE consultation with me immediately after you take the assessment.