“I’m just really lazy and unmotivated.”
She told me that a trainer had advised her to work out at home, so she replaced her gym membership with a yoga mat and dumbbells in her basement, but she still seemed unable to motivate herself.
After that, someone told my client to try taking the pressure off by committing to teeny tiny goals every day to build consistency, like holding a plank for 1 minute. That sounded so easy! Fun, even! Perfect.
And yet my new client had gone months, still without ever doing a single plank. Which is how we arrived at this conversation.
Since my client badly wanted to get into shape, she became very self-critical, unsure of what was “wrong with her,” and finally concluding that she must simply be lazy and lack motivation.
I sighed into the phone (probably a little too dramatically for a first coaching call, if we’re being honest). This is such a common phenomenon among the women I work with that I honestly can’t believe I’ve never written about it before.
So let’s do this.
If you’re resisting movement– and I definitely think not “finding the time” to plank for 60 seconds qualifies as resisting movement– there is a fucking reason.
You are not crazy, or lazy, or stupid, or self destructive. You are a perfectly reasonable person with a perfectly reasonable reason for resisting movement, even if you don’t know what that reason is yet.
In 95% of the “resistance to moving” cases I see, the person is resistant to moving because she is afraid.
The thing is, putting your body in motion puts other stuff, like energy and emotions, into motion. That’s exactly why it’s so powerful, and why, as a personal trainer, my clients were having emotional breakthroughs and healing old wounds, even though all they did was lift weights.
Physical movement is the single most powerful tool I know of for transformation.
The body actually has this beautiful built-in design, where it actually wants to heal (and knows how to heal) if you just get out of the way and allow it. An object in motion stays in motion and whatnot.
Instead of allowing the energy to flow and do it’s thing though, most people spend their entire lives containing, controlling, repressing, and stifling it.
Some part of our primal brain knows that the best way to control our energy and emotions is to stay physically still; the moment we put our bodies in motion, shit inside gets moving too. This is why so many clients cry during their first few training sessions, and why I recommend my clients dance or move anytime they feel stuck, frozen, or numb.
Physical movement creates emotional movement.
But my sweet, wonderful client didn’t know this, at least not on a conscious level, on our first call together. She didn’t know that some part of her was scared to move physically because she was scared of what would come up emotionally.
Hence her false and self-critical conclusion: “I’m lazy and unmotivated.”
But if we get right to the heart of the situation, being afraid to put your energy in motion is completely understandable, especially if you (like everyone else) have ever experienced unresolved trauma. Putting your physical body in motion is often the crucial first step to resolving that painful old stuff.
The issue is that along with the potential for healing comes an extraordinary amount of unpredictable, uncontrollable, unknown factors. It often comes with big scary feelings, like shame, fear, sadness, and anger, for example, or recognizing things about yourself that you’ve been trying desperately not to know.
Whoof. That’s a lot to ask your sweet protective brain to tolerate, ya know? It’s like thanking your life-long bodyguard for all the work they’ve done, and then asking them to stand nearby while you throw yourself off a cliff.
So, no. My client was not unmotivated, she was scared.
She was scared to feel whatever feelings might start flowing when her body stopped containing everything so…damned…tightly.
This story explains why I insist that every single client I work with has a regular movement practice. Some people prefer to handle their movement practice on their own, and that’s fantastic; one client does ballroom dancing several days a week, and I love it.
For other clients, I write them personalized workout programs for their movement practice. Not as a means to “get in shape” exactly– although of course that’s often the natural byproduct– but rather as a means to support their inner healing by “putting shit in motion.”
A regular movement practice can be seen as a formal self-care ritual, designed to empower and strengthen the inner work a person is doing, unsticking what needs to be unstuck and helping the excess energy exit your body.
This is why the advice I gave my client that day was this:
Don’t worry if this whole practice feels stupid, or scary, or uncomfortable, or pointless, or any of it. Just keep breathing, and keep moving, and keep going anyway.
You are not lazy, or unmotivated.
You are just (understandably) scared of the transformation that moving your body is patiently waiting to offer you.