It happens to almost all of us. We’re going about our everyday lives with not a care in the world, but it all changes. What prompts it, though, is different: hitting a milestone year of life, taking a good long look in the mirror and not liking what we’re seeing, getting winded from a short walk up a hill, or a number of other reasons. What I’m talking about is the workout bug striking.
That’s right. Many of us decide that it’s time to get in shape. So we join a gym, start running, sign up for a sports league, or just start eating right. I’ve done it before and the motivation lasts for about 10 days and then, POOF, it’s gone. Whatever reason or motivation that started the workout bug has passed and I go back to my old habits.
That hasn’t happened to me this time. I’ve been working out consistently (strength training 3x a week and running 3-4x a week) for over six weeks now. On top of that I am still motivated to keep going. That’s not to say that I actually want to work out or run every time I do it. I just got back from a three mile run tonight that I was coming up with every excuse I could possibly think of as to why I didn’t need to go. But I went anyway.
Looking back over the past six weeks I’ve thought of a few things that I’ve done differently this time around that have kept me going.
- I set goals that were big enough to be audacious, but within reason so they seemed reachable. The first thing I decided was that I needed specific, measurable goals that I could aim for to keep me going when the “you should quit” birds start singing in my ears. The first one was to run a half marathon in under two hours and fifteen minutes. That seemed HUGE when I got started but still within reason to keep me from quitting. I also decided that I should get my weight down to under 200 pounds by the time I run the half marathon (December 14). I was 220 when I got started and I’m already halfway there. I have a feeling the next ten pounds will be harder to lose than the first, though, which will make me want to try even harder.
- I got a workout buddy that was in a similar fitness level. This one was huge too. I asked a friend of mine from church if he wanted to workout at the gym with me. I’ve done this before, but the person I chose, who happened to be the preacher, was so far above me in the physical fitness arena that it just wasn’t fun. I slowed him down and he pushed me too hard. The friend I’m working out with now and I do just about the same weight on all the exercises we do, so it’s not a competition and I don’t feel embarrased to go to the gym with him. The other thing that it’s done is held me accountable. We typically workout at 6:30 am, which I would NEVER do on my own. I can, however, get up out of bed because I know if I don’t I will be letting someone else down, not just myself.
- I had a daughter. I don’t really recommend having a child simply to get motivated to workout, but it really does change things. I realize that she will be depending on me to be part of her life for a LONG time and I want to be able to enjoy EVERY last possible activity. Being in better shape will make those experiences much more memorable and enjoyable.
- I started listening to music while I ran. This may not work for everyone, but it has helped me. I didn’t do it the first week or so that I was running, but I have for the past month. The way it has helped me has been two-fold. First, music has a physiological affect on us. Certain songs will give a boost of adrenaline and studies have shown that music played at a higher tempo (120-140bpm) cause us to run along with that same beat. Many of the songs that I hear give me an extra jolt of adrenaline exactly when I need it. The other thing it has done is drowned out the sound of me huffing and puffing. Again, you might not be distracted by this, but it really discouraged me when I would get winded so early in my runs. I would typically stop running and just walk for a while. Now I keep going even though I’m tired.
- I tracked my progress religiously. This really helped me a lot the other day. I got done with a run and I really wasn’t happy with my time. When I went to write it down and compare it with a similar run from a few weeks ago I saw that I actually ran at a faster pace! This made me EXTREMELY happy. It’s hard to trust your feelings in regards to your progress, but when you can see the objective numbers it can be encouraging or it can show you that you’ve had false confidence in your progress, which could serve as a motivator too.
Those are some of the things I’ve done. Do you have any tips on staying motivated to workout?
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