Motivation Mythology

With the new year coming up and social media, advertising and your mums best friend, all obsessing over ‘getting fit’ and ‘burning off Christmas’ I wanted to cut through some of the shit about motivation. 

It’s easy as someone who is not in a consistent exercise routine, is over weight, or recovering from injury, to look at the chasm between themselves and the ‘athletes’ they seen online who are trying to motivate them, and feel anything but motivated. I use the term athletes because largely these people do this as their jobs. They’ve been exercising 5-7 times a week for 2-15 years (or more). They’re fit, they’re (hopefully) knowledgeable and exercise is part of their routine. 

Exercising regularly and hard does not come over night. It is more demotivating to throw yourself into a rigorous, over ambitious exercise routine.

I get asked a lot ‘how I stay motivated’. My honest answer is, I am not sure I do. Routine is usually what gets up and out of the door rather than motivation. My routine has been built up over 3 years. I started with a couple of sessions a week and lived for the rest days. Now I have to force my rest days and crave my next run. 

I always struggle to get out the door for long runs or the gym when I have no time restraint at the weekend. I certainly do not feel motivated then, as I procrastinate swiping through the instagram stories of influencers who have already been to a 9am Saturday morning gym class,

Our bodies and minds are creatures of habit. If you eat breakfast every day, you’re usually hungry for breakfast, if you don’t, you aren’t. 

What should I do?

Start off exercising once or twice a week, maybe one gym session and one short run. That’s one more sessions than you did last week (or last month?). That’s one session in the right direction. Build up the length or intensity of those 1/2 weekly sessions. After a month make it 2/3 sessions a week. Walk more. Get up and use the improvements in your fitness and increase your daily energy expenditure (it all helps). 

Don’t: 

  • throw yourself into a ‘hell week’ or January challenge, if you struggle or fail you will be more likely to quit;
  • set yourself (or have set for you) a gruelling gym schedule that you will find it hard to stick to or even complete;
  • cut your calorie intake by a huge amount (if you want to lose weight, incorporate a small, gradual calories deficit);
  • cut out all your favourite foods;
  • drink only green smoothies (please); and  
  • beat yourself up when you’ve not got a six pack by January 15th – set yourself an obtainable goal, hit it, and set your next.

Tips for those of you wanting to start a routine: 

  • pick a time/day that fits with your schedule and stick to it – don’t let yourself make excuses not to go. 
  • If you feel motivated to do more do, but if you only make the core session(s) that’s cool 
  • Add extra sessions doing something different/fun – it might not be conventional exercise or even the most effective way of burning calories but if it’s get you moving great – maybe Pilates, rock climbing, yoga, boxing, marital arts, swimming… 
  • active recovery days – on days you are not training/exercising, make an effort to walk or cycle rather than drive or get transport. Every little helps. 
  • Exercise with friends – whether it’s going to a class with your best pal, joining a running club, or gymming with your other half – exercise can be social and fun with other people.
Group mentality Exercising with other people can also be a fantastic motivator. Try group gym classes, or communities such as Park Run (Saturday morning, free, local 5km runs which attract lots of different people of all ages, fitness levels and backgrounds) or Good Gym (community based volunteering groups which combine running and helping local projects) as great ways to meet new people, try something different and fit in exercise too.

2019 – don’t be fooled by the New Year’s Resolutions

So please don’t go straight to your local cross fit gym’s WOD battle – you won’t thank yourself. Start at the beginning and measure your success and progression against yourself and no one else.

Remember why you’re doing it, this is your body, your health, your fitness and and your happiness.

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