Are you a naturally motivated person? I’ve been thinking about the motivation to workout and where it comes from. I’m not a person for whom wanting to workout comes easily. Maybe it’s because I grew up in athletics where exercise was built into my life and I just knew I had to go to practice and games. There was no thinking about it or making myself go: I just went.
Now that I’m a grown up I have to find motivation to get myself moving. I know there are people out there who don’t have to force themselves to workout, the motivation is naturally there and the act of going to the gym, lacing up the running shoes, or starting the DVD is effortless. I lived with one of them for a lot of years and I always marveled at how going to the gym was like a treat for her, not something she had to force herself to do.
Let me tell you, I can talk myself out of working out faster than my toddler’s mood can change. And that’s fast. Excuses fly into my brain, sabotaging my efforts. It’s too cold out, my legs are still sore, my food isn’t digested, if I don’t workout today, I can still get enough workouts in this week, I really should do the laundry instead, and on and on and on.
The one thing that helps me the most is to think of the feeling I’m going to have when I’m done. I love the post-workout feeling and if I can force myself to let go of the excuses and focus on that feeling, the workout happens.
I think that’s why consistently working out is a struggle for so many people: it’s delayed gratification. I have to think of a feeling I’m going to get in the future, after the hard work, and keeping the focus on that feeling isn’t easy. One day this week when my brain was trying to talk me out of working out, I decided I needed to discipline myself to focus on the end result more than the moment. My motivation had to come from looking at the future results of working out, and I had to stop thinking so much about how I was feeling that day. Writing down some things that motivate me to exercise was really helpful.
I’m not going to lie. There’s a lot of vain reasons I workout. But it also goes deeper than that. The efforts I put in today are going to make a difference in my quality of life 10, 20, 30, and 40 years down the road. My kids are going to be affected by my efforts. These are the things I need to think about when I’m about to put off a workout. Here’s a motivation list that helps me remember the long-term effects of getting my sweat on. I’d love to hear about your motivation, too.
1. I have to wear a bathing suit. In public.
2. I want my skinny jeans to fit.
3. I want to be attractive to my husband.
4. I want to model an active life for my children in hopes that they will want to be active, too.
5. I want to be healthy at 100. (My great grandmother was living alone and sweeping her own porch daily at 100.)
6. Exercise helps prevent practically every disease and medical condition out there, from heart disease to stroke to high cholesterol.
7. I want to have energy to be a good mom.
8. I want to go on Survivor someday, and let’s face it, you have to be fit to do that.
9. I like wearing shorts in the summer.
10. I want to feel accomplished.
11. I want to enjoy the mental health that comes with being in shape and exercising consistently.
12. I like to compete with myself.
13. I love food.
14. Sometimes I like to eat special treats.
15. I like being strong.
16. I’ll be 78 when we have our 50th wedding anniversary. I would love to have a party and dance with my grandchildren that day.
17. Speaking of grandchildren, I want to be around to see them grow up and be able to play with them, watch them graduate high school, get married, and still be an active, fun grandparent.
18. I want to spend my retirement years being able to travel and be active.
What kinds of things are on your motivation list?
P.S. Thanks for understanding that sometimes, I just have One Of Those Days and Fitness Friday has to show up on Saturday. I love you, most understanding and loyal reader.