I sat down here to write, knowing I felt like writing, and found myself with nothing to write about. Cool story, right?
But I also know that once I get going, sometimes the words just start flowing.
And as I started writing that, I instantly saw the relationship of that statement as it relates to exercise.
The fact that sometimes you are a little unsure, not in the mood, or flat out dreading a workout. But if you just start, maybe you’ll get into the zone and end up with a kick ass swole session under your belt.
it reminded me of why it is so important to push yourself to do something, even when you’re feeling unmotivated (and boy is this something I needed to remind myself of, but that’s another story for another day).
The #1 question I’m asked (and it’s almost on a daily basis) is how I find the motivation to workout consistently. Friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, random people at the grocery store, even fellow gym-goers are curious as to what I have that they don’t.
The answer is going to surprise you, I think. But first, let me fill you in on a few things about myself (and many other fitness “freaks”) that you may not know.
3 Misconceptions about the “Fitness Freak”
- Working out consistently does not come from motivation. Yes, you read that right. I haven’t worked out consistently for 9.5 years because I was motivated. I’ve worked out for 9.5 years consistently because I made that choice. Don’t get me wrong, I find a lot of joy and fulfillment from working out. I have always been a bit competitive and have always been an athlete. One of my biggest fears is losing my athletic abilities. It’s the reason I not only lift weights, but find other ways to stay active as well. I also see how well working out translates into how I carry my personal and professional life. I see what getting stronger physically does to my mental wellbeing (it’s life-changing, btw). HOWEVER, if I only worked out when I was motivated, I guarantee that my workouts would be all over the place and extremely INCONSISTENT. Motivation is wavering. Sometimes it’s high, sometimes it’s low, and it usually doesn’t stay for very long. It’s unreliable and while you can take advantage of it while it’s visiting, you shouldn’t let it be your crutch or your reason.
- You don’t have to love everything you do. As I stated above, I do love working out. But that doesn’t mean that I love everything I do to stay fit. There are plenty of exercises that I’d happily trade in permanently, but often times it is the exercises that you wish to do least, that you probably should be doing more. It’s fun to do things we’re good at. It’s not as fun to do things that we struggle with, so it makes sense that we all have exercises we hate. While exercise should generally be enjoyable and you should like what you do, be aware that there will be pieces of what you do that you may not always enjoy.
- Piggy backing on the above statement, sometimes you will start to love the things you previously disliked. I used to despise chin ups and bench press. Not surprisingly, I wasn’t very good at either of them. But I also knew that I wanted to get better at both exercises, so I just did them. Low and behold, I now LOVE both of them A LOT. You don’t have to start out loving something to potentially start loving it. So hang in there, keep practicing the things you’re weak at, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll learn to love them.
3 Things You Must Do to Reach Your Fitness Goals
The 3 previous statements bring me to the answer you were looking for earlier in this post. The question of “what do I (and other fitness “freaks”) have that you don’t?”…
The answer is: NOTHING.
Mentally, I don’t have any magic tools that you don’t have. As much as we all like to think we are “unique”, we’re also kind of the fucking same guys. Sure, we have unique qualities, but at the end of the day, we’re the same damn breed. (And before you tell me I have more time, I have the same 24 hours that you do. We choose the way we spend them.)
Now that we know we have the same tools to work with, it’s important to look at what will make us successful in our endeavors, whether fitness and health related or not.
- The goal has to be stronger than your excuses. If it’s not very important to you to be fit, it will probably be hard for you to choose hitting the gym over crushing an entire season of New Girl on a Tuesday night. Finding the reason WHY you want to be fit is crucial. Maybe it’s because you just want to look better naked (totally valid goal). Maybe you know that your family has a history of obesity-related health issues. The fact that you don’t want to be put onto 4 different medications in your mid-30’s. The bottom line is, if you don’t have a WHY, you will likely not be able to push yourself to make the time and effort to consistently exercise.
- Just like your muscles, mental strength must be exercised. Just as the current habits we have were learned, we can retrain ourselves to forge new habits. This doesn’t come easily, and requires us to practice. For example, if you’re used to getting home from work each day and sitting on the couch for the rest of the night, it won’t be easy to just start going to the gym after work instead. You may be able to get by with some motivation for a few days, but once that wears off (and it almost always does, hence my advice to NOT rely on motivation), you’ll want to go right back to sitting on the couch after work. These are the times that you have to exercise your brain. These are the times you have to fight the urge to sit on the couch, and just go to the gym anyways. Over time, your habits will change and it will get easier and easier.
- You have to be ok with NOT BEING PERFECT. This one is really difficult, but likely the most important. We love to beat ourselves up when we fuck up. We love to throw in the towel when things don’t go perfectly. We love to sabotage ourselves further when we’ve gotten off track even in the slightest bit. And what we REALLY need to understand is that we will never be perfect. We will fuck up, fail, derail, and make the wrong choice. It is not an if, it is a when. Being OKAY with that fact, is what will actually keep you ON TRACK with your goals. It sounds a bit ass backwards, but it’s actually the truth. It doesn’t give you a pass to skip the gym and eat like crap and then just throw your hands up and say “eh, i’m not perfect”, but it DOES give you permission to pep talk yourself and say “i fucked up, but i am not a fuck up. I got off track, but I will not stay off track. I fell down, but I will get back up”.
At the end of the day, consistency wins the race. It’s funny, because we like to think that the extremes are what get us from point A to point B. It couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s the small steps that actually move us forward. It’s the acceptance that not everything will be perfect. It’s the fact that some days we won’t have time for our hour long weight lifting workout and instead, we’ll have 15 minutes in our living room to move. It’s the days you end up at a pizza joint with friends and decide to just eat 1 slice of pizza instead of eating 7 slices and writing off the day as an entire failure. THAT is how we reach our goals. THAT is how we get the things we’ve always wanted. We accept what is, and we do the best we can with it.
1. Tell me, what is your goal and what stands in your way the most?
2. Do you push yourself to workout/eat well even when you don’t want to? Or do you give in to what you want to do at that moment?