I’ve been asked what keeps me motivated. An easy answer is the typical mom response that my kids are watching me and I’m setting the example. While that is absolutely true for the lifestyle as a whole, lets be real, our kids don’t give a shit if we skip the gym when we’re not feeling it. They don’t care if we splurge on ice cream and donuts. If your kids are anything like mine, they’d actually encourage that. No, I’m sorry but I don’t buy that as an answer. Do I get an enormous amount of satisfaction in seeing my son make healthy choices and enjoy copying mommy and daddy in the gym? Of course! Moments like that do motivate me to keep living as I’m living. But what motivates me on days that I rather make a U-turn out of the parking lot of the gym and hit up the nearest Dunkin Donuts? Well, in all honesty, I think experience doing what I do is what was needed to build up the daily motivation. I can whole heartedly say that what motivates me on those tough days is knowing the long term result of giving up. What happens when you decide you’re going to take a break or push the gym aside for something else you’ve made priority. I can tell you that time always passes, so it’s what you make of that time that matters. It’s easy to say “I’ll just skip today”. When you decide to give yourself that excuse, that thought has been implanted into your mind, now making it easier to say that same thing to yourself day after day. Turn around and you’ve missed a week. Turn around even faster and it’s been months. I’ve been working out in the gym since I was 16 years old, that’s over 15 years now. It’s been only in the last 7-8 years that I’ve been 100% consistent and committed to the fitness lifestyle. Meaning, making no excuses on why I should skip the gym or eating a proper nutritious, balanced diet (of course with the standard exceptions that come with being a mom, like kids getting sick, having a school event, etc). Before those 7-8 years, I was very inconsistent. I’d go months without exercise or training. While I did have a strong interest and love for it, I would allow myself to stray for months only to make my way back. Each time I’d make my way back to the gym, I’d think to myself, “if only I hadn’t taken these last few months off, where would I be now? How far would my progress have come”? It’s a very real question to ask yourself. It’s at these moments that a lot of people want to give up and throw in the towel. They may think that they’ve wasted this time taking off so what’s the point now. What happens next? Another 3-6 months pass. 3-6 months that they could have gotten back into the gym (or exercise of choice) only to continue kicking their own butt. It’s moments like these that separate the committed from the “victims”.
Let’s talk about motivation for a minute. What is it to be motivated? It’s actually just a state of mind. The feeling that something has caused you the desire to behave in a certain way. Knowing this, it’s important to hold onto those moments in our mind that got us into the thing we desire (in this case, fitness), in the first place. Obviously motivations can change once our goals change. The first time I worked out when I was 16 is not the same reason I work out today, but it’s not going to be far off. Is it to reach a goal? To prove something? To feel better mentally and physically? Like staying humble, it’s important to never forget where you started, where “it” came from. If you sit down and think about these moments, what has driven you in the past, you can prepare yourself before those de-motivating moments hit. I, for example, am motivated seeing others train harder than me. I’ve always had fitness goals since the day I became 100% committed 7-8 years ago. Whether it was through competition, losing baby weight, prepping for a photoshoot or even preparing for pregnancy, I’ve always had something in mind keeping me focused. In my mind I know watching people train harder than me will push me to be the better version, or at least continue with what I’m doing and maintain my fitness level. In my case, speaking on a day that I may not want to get to the gym, I mentally get fired up by watching training clips, whether it be one or 10 exercises. In general, setting goals is going to be crucial for anything you’re doing. Whether we’re speaking motivation in the gym, work or school. Goals are the destination and what you do to get there is the journey.
While reading up on various ways to stay motivated, I came across something interesting, written by James Clear. He talks about the “Goldilocks Rule”. Psychologically, people are much more inclined to remain motivated when that thing is neither too easy nor too hard. You guessed it, it’s gotta be just right! Lets take the gym for example (shocker). If you are at a point that you are just going through the motions, not truly being challenged and no longer feel you are pushing yourself, it has become way too “easy” for you, thus leading to feeling unmotivated. On the opposite end, if you walk into a gym that feels overly intimidating to you, or perhaps you’re working with someone that is pushing you way beyond your fitness level and you feel nothing but discomfort for days after each training session, that may demotivate or discourage you. Find the healthy balance between the two where you are being challenged in a realistic way. You’ve set realistic goals and feel you are actually working towards something attainable. Humans enjoy a challenge, but usually if we feel it is reachable. So next time you’re not feeling the motivation, think about the routine you’re in and if tweaking that would tweak your motivation at all. If that doesn’t work, just throw on some shoes, suck it up and do 10 burpees, 10 squats & 10 pushups. Pushing yourself through the “pain” (in this case, not wanting to do it) , will actually trick your mind into thinking differently!