Work It On Out: Motivation

Welcome back to Work It On Out, my weekly post in which I thinly disguise my own personal work-out interests as being intended for the common good.  That’s why this week’s theme is Motivation.  I just got home from the lamest workout I’ve had in a while.  I couldn’t get going at all.  My legs felt stiff, my arms felt heavy, my mind kept wandering into a downward spiral of guilt and self-deprecation.  I can’t believe I went from the workout last week where I only left the gym because it was closing, to today where I only put in the bare minimum to get my sticker on my Fitness February chart.  So, I decided to research some tips to get motivated again, and here’s what I came up with!

Silhouette of dinosaur chasing stick figure person. Text reads: Exercise: Some motivation required.I usually love my star chart for motivation, but today it was more daunting than anything.  You mean I have 20 more DAYS of having to exercise every day?! Uuuughhhh.

Music: Music is my go-to to try to get myself motivated to start with.  In the middle of a workout, I love a good “power song,” as they say.  Lagging in the middle of a run? If I put on Eye Of The Tiger I’m guaranteed to at least bust through the rest of the song, which often gives me enough juice to keep going after that.  But sometimes, even Survivor can’t get me going.  So I have to try something else.

Positive Self-Talk: I’ll admit it, I’m not a glass half-full exerciser, and it’s very easy to get into the spiral of negative self-talk.  I have been working on trying more positive statements during my internal monologue.  Often my motivation for fitness is my negative feelings about myself, but just like in Monsters, Inc. where it turns out that laughter provides more power than screaming, positive self-talk goes a lot further than negative. In the same vein, I like to post little motivational notes to myself and one thing I will be doing today is adding more around my apartment.

Write Down Your Happy Thoughts: Here’s something else I think I will be working into Fitness February.  Because this is exercise-oriented, my Happy Thoughts will be fitness related.  For instance, I got my ass to the gym even though it’s freaking freezing outside and I tried several different workouts to see if I could get motivated – I didn’t give up! Go me!  I am proud of that for today.

Reward Yourself: You know what? I’m 8 days into Fitness February and still going; I’m going to get myself a manicure tomorrow.  I think that will be just the thing to perk me up.

and finally, Give Yourself a Break: A setback is just a setup for a comeback! I love those cheesy platitudes because their true.  So today I didn’t come home from my workout acting like I was hopped up on goofballs, it’s not the end of the world!  I have some idea about where I went wrong today, and I have some plans to fix that in the future.  I enter the rest of Fitness February with renewed commitment!

So, readers, what helps you when you’ve lost your motivation for working out?

12 replies on “Work It On Out: Motivation”

I really enjoy exercise, and am motivated to make myself into the badass fantasy version of myself. More agile, flexible, stronger, tougher, and centered. I really love dance, particularly jazz, hip-hop, and Afro-Brazillian, but since my gym stopped classes and I can’t afford to go often to other places (more of a once a month thing), I substitute it with yoga at one place, and boxing and kickboxing classes at the gym. I am aware of my weaknesses (soft muscles) and my strengths (flexibility), and when I go, I focus more on technique and precision rather than trying to make my body smaller (although that is nice when it happens). If I go there with the mentality of a focused dancer, or practicing moves to myself at home to get better and more refined, I get so much more out of my workouts, and feel like a beautiful athlete.

I am the least motivated exerciser of all time. It has taken me a lot to even start to do basic exercise–so, to anyone out there who is just like me, I TOTALLY recommend doing Couch to 5k! I downloaded the running app for my iPhone and it’s been amazing. It’s designed for people who are not runners, and it has such an easy pace you don’t even realize you’re actually getting better. Seriously, it’s just the scheduled aspect of it that gets me going–and the fact that they make it easy enough to pace yourself. I have never run without being forced in my whole life–I find it tedious–but I am signing up for my first 5k ever in a few months. I believe I can do this, because I have an outside plan that is telling me exactly what to do to achieve my goals. I just put on some NPR to distract myself (Pop Culture Happy Hour ftw!), start the Couch to 5k app, and before I know it, I’m done. I love it!

I have to say, working out at the gym was not my thing and instead I figured out stuff I can do outside/not in a gym. Taking walks with my SO after dinner each night (big plus: alone time not vegging on the couch), doing yoga twice a week in my office at home, or marathon cleaning sessions are my big 3. I keep continuing to do them so it seems to work well for me.

Best motivating song when you’re in the middle of a workout: Iron Maiden’s Aces High. There is something about 80s power metal in general to get me moving. I like the sound of your fitness chart. I’ve been looking into something simple and motivating to keep track of my workouts. Sparkly stickers might be the trick.

What keeps me motivated is doing something I love. Nowadays I only skip workouts when I have to go out of town or I’m sick, otherwise I enjoy what I do way too much to want to not do it. I recently was fairly ill so I ended up missing 3 days of working out and it sucked big time.

AtomicBoy and I pre-warded (?) ourselves. Our birthdays are only three days apart, so we took a really extravagant weekend trip in celebration. It kicked off exercising regularly with total excess; the truth is neither of us want to look at rich food for a while! Plus, such excess tipped the scale and our outlook on food in a direction neither of us likes.

Seems perverse, but so far, it has worked amazingly.

P.S. After my first experiment with it last night, I’m certain that the P in P90X stands for “puke-inducing.”

What you said about giving yourself a break is key for me. I used to run much more regularly than I do now, and although I enjoyed it most of the time, every so often there’d be a day or stretch of days where I really had to force myself to keep going and where every minute was boring and awful and grumpy. I just remind myself that it won’t always be that way – so I didn’t have a fantastic run, but that doesn’t mean I won’t have more in the future or that I’ve failed somehow.

Mixing it up and trying different things also helps keep me motivated. My rec center has lots of different classes, and so if I start feeling like I’m in a rut or like the workout is getting too easy, I try a different class. Being able to feel excited about what I’m going to do is really crucial for me to keep motivated.

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