Yes, it is true - Even I have a hard time getting myself to roll out of bed to go hit the gym on a Monday morning. I work hard, I do a lot of things, I deserve to rest and relax (and also I love bed). Most people who know me know that fitness is very important to me, so I am often asked how I stay motivated.
Motivation does take some thought, so grab a pencil.
1. Step one is putting on active clothing.
Usually if I can muster enough gusto to put on a bunch of bright spandex, I will then be motivated to travel to the gym. Acquire some workout clothes that you like and that are fun for you to wear. It is true that the uniform can make the man (or human if you will).
2. I work out before I know who I am in the morning.
Like I said, my workout is the first thing that I do for the day. I finally fully wake up about half way through the warm up. (Thank heavens I walk and do not drive to the gym).
There are so many things that can come up throughout the day that can make your workout seem less important. (i.e. dinner, happy hour, laundry, running to the store, last minute meeting, children). Plus, when you have your workout done first thing, whatever else you accomplish that day is a bonus.
3. Think of yourself as a skilled participant in your sport.
If you think of yourself as an athlete or a yoga goddess, you will start to treat yourself like you are. Visualizing the person that you want to be is a good start to help with the other habits that come with exercise such as diet, sleep and hydration.
4. It has to be something you actually enjoy.
This can change. I danced ballet for 20 years and did dance team in grad school. Soon I found myself lifting heavier and heavier in the gym between practices, so I naturally started doing crossfit. After a bout of whiplash left me having a difficult time getting out of bed, suddenly snatches didn’t look so fun. I became a hot yoga devotee for the next year and half. Then, I gained enough stability and I am back to PR-ing my lifts. My fitness has changed so much throughout my life and it will always continue to. You never know when I will get an inkling to get back in the pool and swim some laps, or pretend that I love trail running during the fall months. Your fitness can change just as you do.
5. You gain a community.
Fitness can be performed alone, however if you choose to perform fitness with other people, in my experience, the effect multiplies. (This has even held true for my group meditation experiences). I love group classes. I go harder because I know people around me are going hard too. I am held accountable. If you go to a regular class, people will notice when you are not there and may give you some light digging (only because they want you to succeed). Plus, If you weave fitness and being active into your social fabric, it becomes your way of life.
6. Anchor to something larger than this week.
If I am super failing to release my clutches from my nicely blanketed bed, I force myself to take a look at future Krystal. Future Krystal is 80 years old and kickin butt. She is active daily, travels, reads, and goes on plenty of social outings. 80 year old Krystal lives this way because she gets her butt out of bed in the morning.
Your anchor is going to be something that is personal to you. To create a habit, you have to have reasoning that goes beyond your day to day and perhaps even beyond yourself. Many people want to stay in shape so they can be active with their children or grandchildren. Whatever it is, think of something that you value above all else that goes beyond looking good naked (which doesn’t hurt).
7. Success in fitness parallel success in life.
The mental acuity that is necessary to become disciplined to be active regularly and to refine your body movement will drive you in all areas of your life. When you workout when you don’t want to, when you press on through a workout even though your muscles are depleted, when you take a deep breathe and master a new skill - you expand your drive and realm of experience. You will find that you do not let trivial things bug out your day. When it is Friday afternoon and you’d rather leave early after a long week, you will dig a little deeper and push out another idea.
This concept is better articulated by an exert from a book that comes required reading at Harvard and Columbia Business Schools, "Compelling People" by John Neffinger & Matthew Kohut.
“While we cannot rewire our natural responses completely, we can still create change when we need it through brute force of will. Focus on why the task is important and how it connects to your values and your sense of how you want to be in the world. Then resolve to do it, no matter how it feels. Finally, make yourself do what needs to be done, even if that is not at all what comes naturally to you in the situation.”
In other words, practicing strength, even physical strength and regular fitness, bleeds power and confidence into all areas of life. What better excuse for working out is better than that?
Stay iron willed my friends,
Dr. Drwencke is a sports chiropractor, speaker, & clinical athlete in San Francisco. Her posts reflect some of the day to day interactions and questions from patients and clients. Dr. Drwencke strives to empower people through injury rehab and sports performance to lead healthy, productive lives.