Motivation & Commitment

Hello again lovely readers!!!  It’s Tuesday afternoon and the sun is finally shining!!!  We’ve been getting a shit ton of snow here…absolutely ridiculous….hello?!?  It’s May next week? WTF.

The sunshine is getting me super excited about some outdoor running this spring and summer and nap times spent lounging on my deck! OMG I love summertime!! Eeek!!!

Okay, so I started 21 Day Fix Extreme, yesterday.  This is my first time through this particular workout.  Holy shit balls, I obviously needed to shake things up a bit because for one thing, it is HARD, and secondly, I was starting to feel bored with my workouts and I am now feeling inspired again because of the challenge!

I want to discuss a couple things that influence my motivation and commitment to my fitness routine.  On Sunday, I posted about preparation and scheduling in workouts but there are a few other things that keep me committed as well.

One thing is that I find workouts that I LOVE.

I LOVE strength training and weights because not only do I see awesome results from strength training but I feel strong and powerful lifting weights.  This feeling of power and strength transcends my physical sense of self.  Weight lifting brings out my inner BADASS.  I walk with my head held a bit higher and I am overall more confident.

Jogging used to be my “go-to” workout.  I knew that I could run 4-5 miles and it maintained my weight, made me feel great after and my body would pretty well stay the same.  I turned into a bit of “cardio junkie”, and developed a mindset that I HAD to do cardio and it HAD to be for a certain amount of time or the workout wasn’t worth the effort.  Jogging became complacent in that it was the same movement every day.

After I had my son, I had to get a bit creative not only with the type of workout I was going to do but also time frames because my workouts had to fit with the routine schedule of feedings, naps, errands and for the most part had to include my son because I didn’t put him into daycare regularly.  This is when I first started at home fitness DVD’s.  They required minimal space and equipment which was exactly what I was after.  I purchased a couple sets of dumbbells and some resistance bands and could do the workout right in my living room with my son playing on the floor.

Most of these workouts are strength based with a cardio component because the movements will also get the heart rate up.  Time and time again, when I would incorporate a bit of strength training into my routine, the results were incredible.  Not only did my body look totally different than when I was solely jogging, but I was stronger, leaner and felt better.  For me, it feels super gratifying to be able to bump up my weights and lift heavier.  I also noticed that by incorporating strength training into my workouts, I didn’t have to work out as long to get results.  Most of the workouts were 30-40 minutes.  The DVD’s also provided a variety that wasn’t there when I was purely doing cardio workouts.  I could have done more varied workouts on the treadmill using incline and adjusting speed, but running was still just that, running.  When I am doing strength based workouts, the movements are different every day, I am working various body parts and I am capable of changing the program up to get more variety and more intensity out of my workouts.  This makes working out challenging, interesting and ultimately FUN.

The second thing that helps with my motivation and commitment is that working out for me is STRESS RELIEF.  The time that I take out of my day to move my body has been crucial in relieving symptoms of anxiety, increasing my mental focus and bettering my ability to cope with stressors.  It also serves as a TIME OUT for me.  It can be a mental time out because I am super overwhelmed with a situation or circumstance or it can simply be a time out from the “To Do Lists” and day to day routine.  It offers me time to just be moving my body for that 30-60 minutes.  I have nowhere else to be and my mind can shut off and focus on moving and sweating and being awesome.  It’s meditative!

When I first started working out, my goal was to look good so the awareness piece of how I felt holistically wasn’t as evident.  I noticed the obvious things – that my stomach was flatter, my legs skinnier, and my jeans were looser.  But then, as I started to fuel my body with healthy food and move it consistently, I noticed how it felt when I deviated from the healthy habits I had established. I’ll give you a hint…NO BUENO.

In order to recognize the mental, emotional and spiritual benefits that fitness gave me, I needed to become aware of how clear, how good and how relaxed I felt after a workout.  This takes time and conscious observation of self.  What I mean by this is that, I needed to commit to working out on a consistent basis in order to notice how my body and mind felt in combination with my dedication.  When I did this, I also observed the accompanying stress relief that came with regular exercise.  I noticed that a workout after a long day of mentally focused work completely relaxed me.  I noticed that if I was stressed out about something, that a good jog or swim helped me to work through some of the emotions and frustrations I felt and I left the workout feeling less uneasy about whatever was bothering me.  I was able to step outside of myself and more easily surrender to knowing that everything in life was going to be okay.

This past year, there were definitely time periods in which I took a break from working out.  I took some time off right after my husband left and then after having my daughter while I was recovering from surgery.  After a certain timeframe of no workouts, I start to feel mentally saturated, little stressors start to become big stressors, my quality of sleep declines and I feel an increase in nervous energy.  Breaks are TOTALLY OKAY and even NECESSARY at certain times in our lives because sometimes the body needs rest, healing and recovery.  For me, breaks not only serve as much needed rest time but also, as a reminder that exercise is so necessary to my life for a sense of wellbeing.  After adequate rest, I look forward to picking up an exercise routine again.  It’s important to know that the first day back to exercise after a break (when I say break – I mean longer than just a few days) will be brutal.  For me, the first day back is always difficult and honestly, feels like complete shit.  The next day is by far better and each day after continues to improve throughout that first week.

So, if I was to give a piece of advice regarding motivation and commitment to exercise, I would say, find a way to move your body that you LOVE.  There are so many ways to exercise and so many different gyms, classes and activities to participate in.  Do something that makes you feel powerful, confident and accomplished after leaving the workout.  Remember that it takes at least 3-4 weeks of consistent commitment to start to notice changes and improvements in your abilities – so get moving regularly for a few weeks and dabble with different workouts.  Try a spin class, join a run group, try yoga or commit to going for a walk for 30 minutes every day.  Find your groove and don’t give up just because one form of exercise isn’t your jam, move on and try something else.

My second piece of advice would be to start becoming aware of your body.  Get really in tune with how you feel post workout, not only physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  Notice if your focus, sleep and mood change.  Notice how this effects your relationships, your ability to cope with day to day pressures and your general sense of self.  Once you tap into that place of feeling strong, confident and an overall sense of well-being, it may shift your reason for working out in the first place.  You may forget all about the goal of being a certain size and instead decide that you just don’t want to go another day without feeling the inner awesomeness that accompanies exercise.  Get after it!!

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