Maintaining fitness integrity is harder than it sounds. It’s more than just “doing the right thing.” I’m giving you fair warning right now—this post is going to get deep.
When asked what integrity means, most people would tell you: “Doing the right thing when no one is looking.” Really, it means doing the right thing just to do the right thing. Not because of some external pressure.
Fitness Integrity is About More than Just “Doing the Right Thing”
One dictionary definition of Integrity is “The state of being whole and undivided.”
In your fitness, I would take this one step further: Integrity is acting in alignment with your goals and your purpose.
Recently, a friend of mine posted on social media about being “on purpose.” When you act in alignment with your purpose, you get fired up! The things that are hard to do become easy because you’re acting in alignment with your goals and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to achieve them.
Doing the Hard Things
If you aren’t motivated to do those hard things, it might be because doing those hard things aren’t in alignment with your goals, or your goals aren’t in alignment with your purpose. Or, one more possibility: you don’t know what your purpose is.
When you’re training for a big fitness goal, whether it be running a half marathon, full marathon, ultra, or even trying to lose 20 pounds, it takes some serious commitment to that goal plus dedicated action to achieve it. You might need to get up earlier to do your workouts. You might need to change your diet and eat higher quality foods, all while maintaining the discipline to say no when people offer you food that doesn’t help you achieve your goals.
Everyone seems to KNOW what the right thing to do is if they want to lose weight: Eat healthy and exercise. Carrying out those actions with the integrity and discipline that leads you to your goal is a different story, however.
Acting Against Your Fitness Integrity
Have you ever been in this situation?
You KNOW what actions you should be taking, you KNOW what you need to do to achieve your goal, yet you slip back into your bad habits because they’re more convenient, and there is less resistance because you are COMFORTABLE in your habits.
I have, far too many times. But I’m still a work in progress.
Here are some examples:
- You’re training for a big race, but you skip a workout here and there because “you’re too tired” or something happened to change your schedule, so you make an excuse to accept why you won’t get that workout done instead of working it into your schedule.
- You intend to eat healthy all week, but when your friends ask to go out to dinner on a Wednesday night to celebrate a big promotion, you agree saying that you want to go somewhere where you can order something healthy. Yet, when you order, you still consume twice the amount of food you intended and feel bloated the next day.
- When your friends get together for drinks, you say “I’ll just have one.” 3 drinks later…you wonder where that resolve went.
- You family comes to town and you vow to focus on cooking healthy meals so you can feel good while they’re here. When the chips and queso come out, however, you’re the first to dig in and forget when to stop. Before you know it…the queso is gone (with the help of a couple family members).
These are all personal examples that have actually happened. And I felt like crap after every single one.
Why? Because I acted OUT of alignment with my goals and acted against what I said I was going to do. Not only did I feel like crap because I consumed food that didn’t support my health (and made my body feel really crummy), but I acted against the integrity of my decision.
If you’ve ever done this—you’re human. I’m not sure that I will ever eradicate this behavior from my life…I’ve historically struggled in my relationship with both food and my weight. But the goal is to reduce the number of instances where I act against my goals and increase the number of instances I act in alignment with my goals.
The goal isn’t perfection, just to get a little closer than where I am today. No one wants to be completely perfect—and I’m sure no one can be. Even elite athletes allow themselves treats when appropriate. Treats and less-than-healthy food is part of life, and we should be able to enjoy those when we choose. The key here is to make healthy eating the norm and treats the rare exception.
Acting in Alignment with Your Fitness Integrity
In my 2019 Goal Accountability Check-In, I explained which goals I have achieved this year and where I fell short. I achieved my sub-2:10 half marathon goal, and now I’m working on my sub-2:00 goal. The one place where I fell short (and have fallen short, year after year) is my weight loss goal.
My goal was to weigh 150 or less for the Salt Lake Half Marathon in April, and 145 or less for the Air Force Half Marathon in September. When I ran the Salt Lake Half Marathon in April I hit my time goal, but weighed 5 pounds over where I wanted to be. I don’t have any excuses as to why I didn’t hit that goal. I definitely had enough time, but I didn’t make the decisions and take the actions necessary to achieve it.
Now, I’m taking the actions necessary to re-align myself and achieve my goal of weighing 145 pounds or less by the Air Force Half Marathon. I’m not just focusing on the weight loss, I’m still maintaining a focus on fueling myself as an athlete to keep my fitness where it needs to be and fuel my training.
What Does Aligning Your Actions with Your Goals Look Like?
Aligning your actions with your goals and having “fitness integrity” is recognizing each and every daily decision that either brings you closer to your goal, or moves you farther away from it.
As of the morning I’m writing this post, I weigh 148.2…so I’m a heck of a lot closer to my 145-pound goal than I was in April. And let me tell you—it feels GREAT to act in alignment with my goals and know that I’m getting closer to where I want to be.
Suddenly, the hard actions don’t seem as difficult because I can see my fitness integrity decisions paying off.
The path isn’t linear. There are some ups and downs, but it’s great to know that I’m trending in the right direction.
When I did my long run this week, it started raining about 10 minutes into my 90 minute long run. Did I turn around and head home to avoid running in the rain? Heck no! I kept going because I know that getting that long run in is the difference between achieving my running goals or potentially falling short of my mark.
IF I miss my next half marathon goal, I want to know that I gave it my all and not doubt whether I could have made it if I had pushed myself just a little harder or changed just a few decisions that I made during my training.
How do you maintain integrity in your health and fitness decisions?
- Transitioning from the Half to Full Marathon: 7 Critical Factors for Success
- 6 Smart Hydration Tips for Running in the Summer Heat
- How to Pace Your Half Marathon with 4 Simple Strategies
- Ultimate Direction Women’s Race Vesta Review
- What is a Recovery Week and How it Can Boost Your Running
About Me: I’m Alexis, Founder of RunningMyBestLife! I am an avid recreational runner, half marathoner, wife, dog mom, busy professional, downhill skier in Northern Utah. My mission is to help new enthusiasts fall in love with the sport of running. I believe that running is a catalyst to taking control of your life and living your best life by design. Learn More –>