It is pretty elusive stuff motivation. What gets people to do what they say that want to do? Most people say they want to lose weight/get fit/quit smoking/change jobs but in reality we don’t actually do what it takes to change for the better. I was thinking about it the other day and realised that I have done all of those things in the last 7 years and when I look back on it I think where did I get the motivation from? How did I summon the beast within to stick at it and get to where I want to be? I thought I would share a bit about what motivates me and how I started the long slow burn needed to finish the race. This is by no means an exhaustive list and many of you will say that none of these things will work for you but hey – I thought it might be interesting…and it might, if I am being honest, actually motivate me further to get to the next level.
1. Don’t stop. I see motivation as one giant push to start and then a series of little steps to keep going. It is that first push that can really take it out of you so I find that the less I have to do that the easier my task is. Just by keeping going and never having to motivate yourself to start again you make the task that much easier. You always hear people talking about how hard it was to quit smoking for instance and then they take it back up again and how it is doubly harder to quit again. I know for me it took a good couple of years thinking about it before I even attempted it!!! It seems that because you know how hard it is and how much energy it takes, it stops you from trying. Hindsight seems to work in reverse and armed with that knowledge you are once again unable to move forward. Do it once and do it right is my motto. I ain’t never goin to have to experience hour one of quitting smoking ever again – no way maam!
2. Even if you don’t feel like it just give it a go. This really applies to any sort of exercise I do. Most people tell you they love to exercise and it is true I love it too, but that is usually at the end of the run not at the beginning. Those few hours on the lead up to a run you begin bargaining with yourself about how you can get out of it. The excuses vary from it is raining, to you have a heap of work to do, to dinner to start, to the old faithful, you just don’t feel you have the energy – really any excuse will do for you to opt out and not do it. I have actually had these conversations out loud in our house – on those days that I really, really don’t want to go. You have to make sure you don’t allow the bargaining to get too loud in your head – sometimes I am actually getting dressed to go for a run and I am still bargaining with myself!!! However I still walk out the door almost on autopilot and then I am stretching and I just say to myself – I’ll just toddle through – and then I am off and before I know it I have finished. I look at it as coins in the bank – some days you put in a lot and other so so much but as long as you save you are still getting ahead.
3. Celebrate your achievements while setting new goals. All of the books I have read on the subject of losing weight or getting fit talk about the importance of celebrating your achievements. I have to say that I am not very good at that (seriously who is?) but I do usually give myself a quick pat on the back once I have met a goal while I am simultaneously setting another one. It goes a bit like this “I feel great that I managed to do that 12 k run but I wonder how fast I can do it in?” I have found that if I celebrate too much I sometimes lose that very precious momentum and then, all of a sudden, I start slowing down and then BAM I have to motivate myself again.
4. Dress the part. While this doesn’t always work now I have to say that when I started running I loved getting cool running gear. It helps if you look the part and cool gear makes you want to put it on! Matching tops and shorts, cool socks with airflow technology, fabrics that wick moisture – you name it I have tried it. It was fun and actually helped on those days when I just didn’t feel like it. Nowadays I motivate myself with new shoes – they really feel pretty fab once you have blown your old ones out and make you feel like a golden god on the streets!
5. Music. I cannot stress how much I love music when I am running – I love how a song can make you run faster and get you up hills and take you away from the pain. I am always adding new songs to my playlist and hanging on to old ones that hit the spot. It is actually one of the few times I listen to music – to the lyrics as well as the melody. It helps transport me into a place where I get into the flow of what I am doing. That to me is what you do it for – the ability to be in your body and nowhere else. Closest thing I have ever had to meditation.
6. Never let it get out of hand. Two kilos is easier to shift than twenty. Three weeks off for illness is better than two months. If you have to stop don’t stop for long. I just recently had five weeks off after an operation. Beforehand I was really frightened how hard it would be to come back and that I wouldn’t want to anyway. I seriously thought my mojo could disappear forever. And I am pretty militant about it so that was a big admission for me to make. And you know – when i finally got back into running – it was really, really, REALLY hard. It made me realise how much fitness I lost in just five weeks. But I did it – and I am never going to do it again for as long as I live it was that hard. I think that is the same for losing weight – if you keep track of it you can get your head round losing five kilos but fifty-five – the giant step needed to start that journey just seems insurmountable.
7. Put yourself first. This is something that both Jason and I commit to and is one of the cornerstones of our relationship. I see it that if we aren’t both fit and healthy then we can’t be there for each other. So exercise takes precedence over everything in our house. It is the number one most important thing – it says that I value you and our relationship so much that I’m not going to not look after myself. It is really hard – and I know you guys with kids are nodding your heads big time – but the way I see it is – if, for instance, your doctor tells you to go and get a preventative scan every two years you get the scan. Not really for you (cause let’s face it, we are all afraid of the doctor) but more for your husband and your kids – because you want to make sure you are there for them and that you have done your best in being there for them for the longest time possible. It also means that the other person in your life respects that your partner has to get out of bed at 6am to go for a ride and you are left with chores to do, or you have to get on the road at 5.30pm so your partner has to deal with the client meetings. It is a non-negotiable and by keeping it that way I minimise its ability to fall off the radar and disappear out of my life.
I’m not sure if that is very helpful but it seems to work for me. That being said, as we move into the cold, dark days any more help staying motivated would be greatly appreciated – what do you guys do to stay motivated? How do you keep the home fires burning?? What tools do you have for the marathon of life?