Getting and Keeping the “M” in Motivation

I’ve blogged many times about what puts the “m” in “motivation” for me, personally…it’s my “me” time, it makes me feel alive and centered, it makes me feel healthy and fit, it makes me happy and energized, etc., etc. (I could go on and on, as you know!).

But have been getting asked more lately – by both my IRL friends and my blog friends – about now only how to get motivated but STAY motivated.

Lately, its struck me that I’m still pretty much in the minority in terms of my workout habits and general affinity towards fitness. A lot of that has to do, for me, in simply being physically ABLE to workout as hard as I can, but it also has a lot to do with me having the ability to make the time for it. I have very few commitments outside of my work schedule that I need to work around – i.e., no kids, I work typical work hours (i.e. no weekends, no nights, etc.) – so it’s honestly not hard to find the time, and I literally have no excuse NOT to get ‘er done.

So – for me, no excuses makes it that much easier for me to get and stay motivated.

For those of you are aren’t quite as free and able to do what you want, when you want, how you want, I’ve put some thought into how to make working out seem more enticing, more enjoyable, and well – more achievable.

  • Start slow and work your way up – in other words, if you’ve not been able to make any time in your schedule to workout up until now but are trying to make it a priority, start slow.  Aim for two workouts in a week – at 30 minutes per workout. If you look at it that way, its only one hour out of your entire week that you need to make the time for. Maybe that means getting up 45 minutes earlier (15 minutes to get up, get dressed, etc.) to squeeze 30 minutes in before hopping in the shower for work. Or maybe you fit it in for 30 minutes before bed (not ideal since it might keep you awake later, but doable). Or it could mean a 30 minute quickie workout while your little one naps in the crib besides you on a Saturday afternoon. The point is – it may not seem feasible at first glance, but there might be pockets of hidden time in there you can scrounge up that are just for your own personal “me time.”
  • Stop beating yourself up – Yes, you’ve not worked out often in the past few months, for example – but try to avoid beating yourself up for it. Instead, think positively about what that 30 minute workout will do for you not just physically, but often more importantly, what it’ll do for you mentally. I’m proof of it – I’ve blogged so many times about having a bad day or feeling blue but after a workout, there is not a single instance I’ve thought to myself  “wow, I feel worse now.” I’ve never regretted a workout, or taking a step back and being “selfish” about using a free 30 mins for me.
  • Embrace the sweat – Yes, I said embrace it. At first, it might seem like way too much work for what its worth, but once you get going and get past the first ten minutes or so, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll start to enjoy it. Try to think of how strong you’re becoming, how your heart is beating away which means its working (a sign of good health!), how accomplished you’ll feel after all is said and done. Just get past the initial “OMG I reallllly hate this” and it’ll get better. Sort of like that first mile of a jog – it isn’t fun – I don’t care if you’re a ten-time marathoner, that first mile ALWAYS sucks. But suddenly, into mile two, you start to get into a rhythm and realize “hey, this isn’t so bad…”
  • Make it a habit – This is the tough one. The one I get the most questions about.  It’s not all that hard to start working out – but how do you maintain a workout schedule consistently? For me – this is a habit that has been brewing for years – its totally ingrained in who I am, clearly since I have a fitness blog, and all that jazz. 😉 But in all seriousness, its NOT easy to make anything a habit. It takes a consistent focus on it for a least 3-4 weeks before anything truly becomes habitual. But – once it does become a habit, it’s actually harder to break the habit than keep it. Just think about little things like chewing gum, or having a piece of chocolate after dinner – it becomes habit after awhile and becomes SO hard to break after awhile, it’s all you can think about NOT to have that piece of chocolate after dinner (or is that just me?? ha). So what am I saying here? The clincher – for working out to become a habit, you’ve got to stick to a fairly consistent pattern of workouts for at least a month for it to become habit. So – keep that in the back of your mind as you chug through your slow-and-steady-two-workouts-a-week-to-start pace and before you know it, four weeks will pass and you might just surprise yourself and find that you’re enjoying the workouts, just a wee bit, maybe? 🙂

Whew. A lot to digest, I know. But the big point here, at least from my point-of-view? Working out is about YOU – this is something I think a lot of people have a hard time adjusting to. It’s YOUR time – and it’s NOT selfish to take that time. Even if that means juggling things around to fit it in, its for you and you alone, and you deserve it. We all do.