Which values guide your pursuit for fitness?

keys to the heartFor some time, I have been immersed in the process of clarifying my life values. While I was doing it, it occurred to me that I could probably benefit from clarifying the values that guide – or would ideally guide –  my pursuit for health and physical fitness.

After thinking about this for a while, I ended up with the following set of values (in no particular order):

  • Balance
  • Fun/playfulness
  • Learning / exploration
  • Vitality
  • Challenge
  • Gracefulness / Elegance of movement

Balance. I chose balance as an important value tp me, because I don’t want to develop any one physical quality – strength, flexibility, speed, endurance – so much that it’s grossly out of proportion with other qualities. I want all “parts of me” to fit together smoothly. In other words, I want to be in balance. 🙂

Vitality. I yearn for my body to be a source of vitality and joy. When I was writing this early post, I was seeing myself in my mind’s eye as a strong, pain-free and energetic 50-year-old woman who’s body is a source of joy for her. Not just some lump of flesh I carry around. The vision has stayed with me ever since and that is why I work hard to get rid of my pain and other “dysfunctions”.

Learning / exploration. Learning new things and skills is something I genuinely enjoy.  Love of learning also happens to be my top character strength so it’s not a coincidence it appears as one of my top values in this aspect of my life. I love learning things about how my body functions and how things are put together.

Challenge. In my opinion, life is more interesting if I can have little bit of challenge. That is one reason I’m interested in goals like being able to do 10 consecutive military push ups in some day.

Fun and playfulness. I think I’m actually pretty playful and fun-loving as a person, so movement as a source of fun is important to me. I think that this value was a bit neglected in my life till recently (because of tend to overly goal- and achievement –oriented and partly because I’ve worked so hard to get rid of pain).

Luckily learning to dance salsa has solved that “problem” for me. I’ve also noticed that I usually have plenty of movement-related fun every time I meet my little nieces. 🙂

Gracefulness. This is the last ingredient, but not the least important. I think I was attracted to ballet in my teens mostly because ballet is so graceful. It looks beautiful and feels graceful when you do it. Being graceful means you’re able to move your body well, and I think it’s closely related to balance. If I do lots of Feldenkrais in a short time, I always feel very graceful. Doing strength training also has the same effect on me.

The opposite of gracefulness  are the Oompa Loompas Marion mentioned in her recent post. 🙂

Note: Values are not goals and other things to consider

The important thing to keep in mind is that values are not goals. Being able to do 10 military push ups is a goal, not a value. You can be in good alignment with your values even if you never reach your goals, because values are more of a quality that you want to express than something you achieve.

Also, you should choose your goals so that they are aligned with your most important values.

Another thing to consider whether what you do in the area of fitness is in good alignment with your values. If your values and what you do are very far apart at the moment, why is that and what could you do to change it?

I came to the conclusion that I’m pretty well aligned with my values in this area of life, even though I’m not close to achieving some of my fitness goals. And before I started salsa in September, I was altogether too serious about my fitness!


If you want to try this value exercise for yourself, you can find a good list of values to on this page. (The link goes to MindTools’ webpage).

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  1. Satu, I love your concept of alignment – in terms of values and goals. I suspect – during my anorexic years – that I struggled with that. It was all about fitness no matter what. I think that has pretty much tainted exercise for me (it’s hard to think of challenging exercise – sprints etc – without feeling physically uneasy).

    I used to ‘diss’ the idea of yoga and walking but now – if I could manage just those two things – I’d be a very happy soul!!!


    • Satu says:

      I have to admit that I don’t like extremely strenuous exercise either (and I doubt most people don’t ) but I do like getting better and learning new things. But I can usually get over my reluctance when I remind myself that any discomfort is temporary..

      It’s a bit of a mystery to me why I’m doing so well in this area of my life but not others..

  2. Marion says:

    Hi Satu! Hmm… I never set out thinking of it this way. I sort of start out with the young assertive girl that hadn’t been told no too often yet, who believed in herself in huge amounts, and walked very confidently, and I bring that Marion to gym. That Marion has all of the qualities above without thinking very hard about it. So I guess it doesn’t matter so much how your arrive at these qualities as much as that you do somehow arrive at them. I hear over and over of stories that are not like mine for perspective, and yet the person ends up very successful for fitness. So it’s a very individualized journey.

    Thanks for the shout-out. 😀 If you didn’t know Oompa Loompas, then you didn’t see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder. It is one of the most awesome films ever! And the book by Roald Dahl is one of the finest children’s books ever written. I read it out loud to my children because it is so magical. You would love it! 😀

    • Satu says:

      Hi Marion!
      I wanted to see whether I would discover anything interesting when I thought about what is important to me about fitness. I didn’t find out anything I didn’t really know before, but starting salsa has made it clear how much I missed pure fun and human interaction as part of exercise.

      I have only seen the Tom Burton -version of the film but I have to admit I didn’t remember the Oompa Loompas till you mentioned them…

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