Clients, friends, and random strangers on the internet will oftentimes ask me how to get motivated to workout. The first few times I heard this, I tip-toed around the question, carefully trying to formulate a response, afraid to ruffle anyones’ feathers and avoid coming off as insensitive. But after hearing the same question time and again, I’ve refined my answer:
Waiting for motivation is bullshit – it’s discipline, plain and simple.
Before you X out of this post and think that I’m just another aggro trainer who doesn’t understand your struggles, hear me out! First of all, wherever you are right now, I’ve probably been there. And if I haven’t been there, chances are I know someone who has, and I can empathize with your current situation [overweight, injured, depressed, too stressed, not enough money, too busy, you name it].
Motivation is fickle, fleeting, and unreliable. What motivation is good for, however, is a kick in the pants. Strike while the iron is hot, if you will. If you can harness motivation when it appears, then you have the opportunity to set yourself up with systems to help maintain whatever habits or routines you’ve decided to implement after said motivation strikes. Example:
You try on a pair of pants that used to fit comfortably and notice that you can barely zip them up. Right then and there, you decide to do something about the weight that you’ve put on. You get a gym membership, and hit it hard for a week, riding that motivation wave to fit back into those pants. But as it’s wont to do, that motivation gradually disappears, leaving you with less than zero desire to go to the gym. So a few days pass by, then a few weeks, then you’re too embarrassed to go back into the gym because it’s been so long, so you end up just buying a new, bigger pair of pants and continuing along with life as usual.
A way to harness that motivation and parlay it into discipline would be to hop on the big ol’ world wide web, seek out any of the hundreds (nay, thousands. or millions!) of free workout routines on Pinterest, Instagram, any number of fitness sites, and follow LITERALLY ANY 3x a week training plan. Find a hole in your schedule where you can carve out 1 hour three times a week and stick to it like it’s an important meeting with your boss. If you simply must miss it, then make sure you reschedule ASAP. I always encourage, if you’re able, people to train in the morning before the day gets in the way. There are very few emergencies that crop up at 5:30AM, most gyms are open, and most people will have ample time to still get ready for work afterwards.
Next, here’s a big secret of the fitness industry: pretty much anything works. Honestly. What matters is consistency with a routine. Sure, some things are more effective than others and every trainer has their preferences for training styles, but at the end of the day, if you do anything 3x a week for 3 months, you will see change. Granted, you also need to adjust your nutrition a tad, but again, it’s not rocket science. We all know what to eat and what to do to lose weight, it just sucks sometimes and it’s boring and it sounds waaaaay better to snuggle in bed and hit snooze than get up, workout, and have a healthy breakfast afterwards.
Do you see the difference? One scenario you leave things up to chance, and the other you are in control.
A section from the DEUCE Gym blog today caught my attention and prompted this whole rant, actually.
Similarly, despite what some might assume, I don’t particularly like training. It doesn’t bring me joy. It wouldn’t make a ‘Top 5’ list of my favorite activities. Nonetheless, I dislike the idea of who I’d be as an untrained individual more than I dislike training.
I tell friends and clients that if I only trained when I was motivated to do so, I’d rarely get it done. It’s become more challenging, sure, since leaving my full-time corporate job (when I used to get up at 5AM three days a week for years to walk to CRUNCH for my 5:30 training sessions), but I still block out time on my calendar every Sunday with when I’ll train during the upcoming week, and what I’ll be doing. If I have to miss a scheduled training time, I adjust on the fly. But I get it done because I refuse to leave it up to chance and hope that I’ll be motivated to train everyday. That, my friends, is how you set yourself up for failure.
Try this: create a separate Google calendar titled “WORKOUTS” and block off your training times. Write where you’ll train, the time, and what you’re going to do. If you’re following a 12 week workout routine from a book write which phase and which workout you’ll do every single time. Mark off yoga, spinning, mobility and stretching, swimming, ballet…honestly, whatever you say you want to do, WRITE IT DOWN. Then talk to me after three consecutive months of doing this — even when you would rather do anything else in the world — and let me know how you feel. I can almost guarantee that you will feel stronger, more empowered, more disciplined, and more in control of your life. Because you will be.