Tag Archives: Motivation

How to Find Your Lost Motivation to Exercise

Last month I came down with a summer cold.

(As an aside, don’t you wish we could all look as healthy as stock photo models do when they’re acting sick? Most of the reason why I’m sharing this particular photo with you is because of how much it amuses me).

My illness was minor even for a cold, but as I was recovering I noticed that my motivation to exercise was not returning like it normally does after I get sick.

I’d stopped blowing my nose and my cough was quickly fading away. Yet I still didn’t have the urge to even do something as simple as take a walk around the block to get back into the swing of things.

If this is something that happens to you as well, keep these tips and tricks in mind the next time your fitness routine is interrupted or you really don’t want to do your usual workout today.

Commit to Five Minutes

I thought this idea was ridiculous the first time I heard it, but it does work. Promise yourself that you only need to move your body for five minutes. If you’re still feeling apathetic or unmotivated at the end of that time span, stop and go do something else with your time without any guilt.

It’s been my experience that this usually doesn’t happen, though. Five minutes is just enough time to begin to enjoy whatever activity you normally do during a workout. Most of the time when I make this bet with myself, I end up doing my full workout anyways. Getting started was by far the most challenging part of the whole routine.

Remember Why You Started Exercising

You might have wanted to grow stronger, gain energy, become more flexible, improve your health, or lose weight. On a more personal level, I love the warm, happy feeling I get from all of the endorphins my body releases after a long, brisk walk. That one factor alone is responsible for at least half of the walks I go on. It feels so wonderful.

Everyone’s reasons for exercising is different, of course, so I can’t possibly list all of them in today’s post. Hopefully the list above gave you a good starting spot if I didn’t mention your favourite ones.

Sometimes it’s an excellent idea to revisit your reasons for exercising and think about how at least attempting to get through today’s workout will help you reach those goals.

Try Something New

Occasionally I lose my interest in working out because I’ve been doing the same thing for too long. A few years ago, I included free dance videos on Youtube in my workout routine. They worked beautifully for about a year, and then my interests shifted to include more weightlifting in my schedule instead.

This doesn’t mean that I’ll never try another dance video again. Dancing is something I’d like to return to one day, although I don’t have any plans to do so at the moment.

Yoga was another activity I tried earlier this year in an attempt to broaden my interests. It turned out to be something that I wasn’t as interested in as I originally thought, but I’m glad that I gave it a try and I am keeping it in mind for the future. I may very well find it better suited for my needs in a year or two.

Make a Smaller Goal

To be completely honest with you, my goal for the first two or three days after my cold faded away was to take walks. I didn’t worry about anything other than walking for about thirty minutes a day, and most of those sessions were broke into smaller segments.

Getting back into a lighter version of my usual routine was the key to returning to the way I normally live. I’m now back to lifting weights regularly, too, and I’m enjoying it as much as I normally do.

Track Your Progress

One of the biggest reasons why I love my smartwatch so much is that it keeps track of all kinds of exercise statistics for me. I get notifications when I reach specific goals and badges if I make enough of them throughout the week.

If you’re motivated by small rewards like these and don’t want to track your own statistics, definitely consider going digital.

With that being said, tracking can be done in many different ways. You could take notes about how many workouts you completed, miles you ran, or pounds you lifted in a Word/Pages document or with an old-fashioned pen and sheet of paper instead.

How to Encourage Someone Else to Start Exercising

No, this post isn’t about cajoling, bribing, manipulating, or otherwise pushing people to do what you want if – or even because –  it will be good for them in the longterm.

Not only is this kind of behaviour completely ineffective, it’s also destructive regardless of whether it’s happening between friends, relatives, or romantic partners.

The decision to change one’s habits for the better is something that every adult has to decide to do for themselves.

I won’t lie to you. It’s difficult to make big, permanent lifestyle changes. The only way these changes will stick is if the person who is trying them is genuinely committed to the process.

With that being said, there are a few things you can do if there’s someone in your life whom you wish would start exercising for the sake of their own health.

Be a Good Example

I walk briskly for about an hour every day. I also lift weights and occasionally dance or do yoga as well. When I invite someone to do something active with me, it’s always for activities that I’ve already been doing and deeply enjoy.

If you want your loved one to start taking better care of themselves, showing them how it can be done is one of the best things you can do. Words are cheap. Months or years of quietly demonstrating how to fit exercise into your life is a much better motivator from what I’ve observed.

Ask Them About Their Goals and Interests

One of my neighbours regularly goes to the gym, and his hours of weightlifting have changed his physique in all kinds of healthy ways.  I’ve been quietly impressed with how dedicated he is to growing stronger and building some serious muscle.

Feeling better was one of my biggest goals when I first began exercising again regularly a few years ago. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was tired of feeling rundown. While I definitely wanted to lose a little weight at the time as well, having more energy, sleeping better, and eventually not getting sick as often were what kept me going before the numbers on the scale started to budge.

If you can figure out what your loved one would like to change about their life and what kinds of exercise they do (and don’t!) like, you’ll be able to suggest some routines that would help them reach those goals.

Keep It Fun

One of the things I love the most about living in Toronto is how easy it is to walk everywhere. Everything I could possibly need or want is within walking distance of my house: grocery stores, salons, movie theatres, parks, medical clinics, museums, and the library. I could easily go weeks without needing any form of transportation other than my own two feet when the weather is mild. Sometimes my spouse and I entertain ourselves simply by taking a long walk when we don’t know what else we’d like to do.

Of course, not everyone lives in a neighbourhood like this one. I’ve lived in suburban and rural places in the past, and I know how much that can affect someone’s daily routine.

The basic principal remains, though. Exercise doesn’t have to be something you tack onto the end of your day. There are many different ways to weave it into your routine in all kinds of fun ways if you think creatively about it. For example, I have a relative who lives so far out in the country that there aren’t any pizza places that will deliver food to them. One of the things her family likes to do is walk half a mile or so down the road to visit another relative of ours every day.

Even small amounts of exercise like that can really add up by the end of the day or week, and they won’t feel like work if you’re doing them to get to somewhere fun.

Back Off

This is by far the most important step in the process.

Adults have the right to run their own lives however they see fit. Once they know that you’re interested in working out with them, it’s up to them to decide when and whether this might take place.

Think of it the same way you do when you give a gift to someone. Once you’ve handed it over, what they do with it is something only they can determine. They might use it forever. They might use it someday when they’ve realized how valuable it is. Alternatively, they might decide it isn’t the right thing for them and never use it at all.

It’s okay to invite them to do a specific activity every once in a while, but that’s as far as I’d go unless they’ve asked you to invite them to work out more often than that. Let them think about it. They’ll either decide to take you up on your offer or they won’t.

Either way, it’s out of your hands now.

Things Nobody Told Me About Getting Back Into Shape

I was in great shape in my early to mid-twenties thanks to a physically active job I had back then that kept me running around all day. As my routine shifted over time, though, I found myself gaining weight and losing some of the strength I had built up.

My wake-up call came several years ago when I caught one cold after another. There was a stretch of about four months when I was either coming down with a cold, actively sick, or recovering from a cold. It might have been a string of bad luck, but I took it as a sign that something had to change.

There are some things I learned along the way as I got back into shape that I wish I’d known from day one. Today I’m going to share them with you.

The Beginning is the Hardest Part. 

Starting any new habit is tough. This is even more true when it involves something that leads to sore muscles and moving a body in a way that it isn’t accustomed to moving.

There were a few days early on when I stopped 5 or 10 minutes into a routine and counted that as a workout for the day. The next time I went back to that video or set of exercises, though, I made it my goal to last one minute longer than I had the previous time I’d tried it. I was often able to push through and stick with it much longer than than my original goal had been because almost anything is endurable for another sixty seconds.

It was honestly as much a mental challenge as it was a physical one in the beginning.

Your Diet Matters

What you eat and drink affects how you perform. For example, everyone needs to be careful to consume enough water or other fluids when they’re exercising outdoors in hot or humid weather.

I’ve also found that it’s easier to get through a workout when I’m comfortably full but not overstuffed. A bowl of oatmeal or some hardboiled eggs give me the healthy boost of energy I need to get in that final rep or those last few minutes of cardio.

Yes, I did have to make some changes to my diet in order to get healthier. This isn’t something I spend a great deal of time obsessing over, though, and I still have treats. They’re simply chosen a bit more carefully these days, and I don’t have them as often as I used to.

With that being said…

The Scale Only Tells a Small Part of the Story.

One of the most frustrating things for me when I first started exercising regularly again was not seeing any change in the number on the scale. I wanted to lose some weight, but my results bounced around in the same general area from one day to the next.

What I learned is that the scale only tells a small part of the story. For example, everyone’s weight shifts a little from one day to the next. I’ve had days where I magically “lost” or “gained” 5 pounds or more simply based on when I weighed myself, whether or not I’d eaten anything before stepping on the scale, how recently I’d used the bathroom, and how much salty food I’d eaten in the previous 24 hours.

So now I pay attention to the scale only if the number on it trends up or down for a prolonged period of time. It is one way to keep track of your progress, but there are many other questions that are also important to answer.

Is your clothing getting looser because your body fat percentage is changing even though your weight has remained constant? Do you have more energy? Are you now taking the stairs instead of the elevator sometimes (or usually!)? Have you finally moved up to a heavier set of weights or a more challenging workout in general? Did you finally figure out how to use that complicated piece of gym equipment that you thought you’d never bother trying?

Or, my personal favourites, are you catching fewer colds? Are you recovering more quickly from them? I still get sick a few times a year, but it doesn’t happen as often these days and my colds don’t last as long as they used to.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve never been able to get into jogging despite liking the idea of it and trying multiple times to enjoy this form of exercise. I didn’t like how uncomfortable it was to catch my breath after a few minutes of jogging or how jarring it was to my joints.

Obviously, this isn’t true everyone. I have a friend who enjoys jogging so much that they train for and compete in marathons.

I know other people who can’t do any vigorous exercise at all due to certain health conditions that restrict how their bodies are able to move. A few people that I’ve known have noticed a difference in their abilities from one day to the next. Sometimes they have more stamina than I do, while on other days they get worn out easily.

You’re the only person who can figure out what kinds of exercise work best for you. It can take a lot of trial and error, but at some point you’ll find the right activity.

It Gets Better

All of your hard work eventually pays off. My life has changed in many small but important ways since I started exercising again.

The first benefit I noticed was that I was sleeping a little better. I used to have some trouble relaxing and falling asleep, but that started to change for the better once I became more active.

I’m more willing to try new things now than I was several years ago. My confidence that I’ll eventually master them has grown and continues to grow.

My posture has improved. This one is a combination of having a stronger core, feeling better about myself, and having more practice with moving my body in ways it hadn’t moved in quite a while.

I have more energy, too.

Regardless of where you are with your fitness goals, keep plugging away at them. It gets easier as you go along!

 

 

The “I Don’t Feel Like It” Workout

thursday-blogsSome days I roll out of bed with a content smile on my face while looking forward to my next workout.

My muscles might be a little sore the next morning, but it feels good to know that I challenged them and that I’ll be a little stronger than I was before when they knit themselves back together.

Today was not one of those magical days.

I woke up still feeling tired. The blustery, rainy weather made me want to crawl back under the covers and sleep for a few more hours. Maybe the sun would show up later on.

The last thing I wanted to do was pick up my weights or listen to the cheerful instructors talk about which muscle group we were focusing on as the video marched on.

One of the things I’ve learned over the past few years, though, is that “I Don’t Feel Like It” workouts are as valid and worthwhile as the ones you can’t wait to start.

You can workout while counting down the minutes until your final set of reps or laps around the block have been finished.

Muscles, lungs, and hearts don’t know the difference between you wanting to exercise and you wanting to do anything but that. They’re going to grow stronger either way.

You don’t have to pretend be chipper to workout. It’s totally okay to do your routine while feeling grouchy, sleepy, annoyed, or uninterested.

Not every workout is going to feel this way, either. There have been time when lifting weights or taking a brisk walk have left me feeling content.

Why did I used to feel like I had to put on a happy face in order to get the most out of exercise? No idea!

But releasing the expectation that every workout has to look like it came from the front page of a fitness magazine is a good thing.

I silently grumped my way through today’s exercise, but I still exercised.

Things could easily shift again the next time I pick up my weights or go for a walk.

The important thing is that you keep plugging along. Don’t you agree?