Today’s guest-post is written by Melissa, author of Existential Detective. Melly is my most favorite (and only) Australian blogging friend, next Olympic athlete, and lists 101 things about her on her blog which will give you a good giggle and are worth the read. Today, Melly shares her fitspirational secrets with us!
When Steph invited me to write a guest post for her Inspiration Week I was a mixed bag of emotions; flattered that she thought so highly of me, but nervous at the thought of trying to eloquently relay my thoughts & emotions in words about fitness motivation. I slightly panicked. How can you adequately surmise all the factors that make up motivation?
So I thought long and hard about it and concluded that I don’t totally believe in an all-encompassing “motivation” tag. Sure there are things that do motivate me, but on the whole, to quote my fitness mentor Michelle Bridges, motivation is like a bad boyfriend; it’s never there when you need it!
For me, motivation ebbs and flows; there are different driving factors that get you out of bed before the sun comes up to go running or to the gym, or to that Friday night BodyBalance class when your colleagues are all drinking down at the pub, but after much thought I concluded that I divide these into two factors; conditional motivation and habit.
Conditional motivation is that strength or driving force that you get when you’re training towards something; like your wedding, a school reunion or a beachside holiday. I know the thought that “I could be mistaken for a great white whale beached upon the sand” is often enough to stop me from hitting that snooze button in the months leading up to summer holidays! If you’re like me, and you and most of your friends have been through their weddings and school reunions, then training for a fitness event is a good motivator. I like to enter a couple of races a year that get me training with intensity (like Sydney’s ‘City 2 Surf’ or ‘Bridge Run’).
But overall I find habit is what gets you to your goal and keeps you there. As any personal trainer will attest, consistency is key to achieving your fitness goals whether it is weight loss, training to run a marathon or getting that six-pack. You have to do it day in, day out to see results. Again I refer to my mentor’s mantra “JFDI”….just f-ing do it! Which basically means don’t overanalyse the situation or bargain with yourself (ie: it’s cold so I’ll just sleep in for 15 extra minutes, or if I miss that class tonight I’ll train extra hard tomorrow, or I’ve done a massive workout so I deserve this bar of chocolate!); just go into “robot mode” and get out that door. I find that putting workout clothes at the foot of my bed, getting into bed 15 mins earlier and planning my workout sessions for the week in advance help enormously. Let’s just agree that the motto is to plan, plan, plan!!!
You can see that habit is such a strong and complex action; it’s so much more than just repetition, but at the same time it’s exactly that. I think it’s better to do a half-arsed workout than no workout at all. And I usually find that even if I’m dreading working out for whatever reason, fifteen minutes into my workout I’m hit with a wave of endorphins that keep me motivated to go on! How many times have you actually regretted a completed workout compared with how many times you get sick with guilt for skipping a training session?
I really do think it’s all about the planning. In my industry as a Project Manager we have a saying ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. If you spend some time before the start of your workout week planning your training sessions (I like splitting the days between cardio/strength/stretch-core), planning your nutrition (specific meal plans that drive your grocery list) and scheduling any ‘red flag days’ (like dinner out with friends, a birthday party, etc) then you are set up for whatever life throws at you. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it?!?!
When all else fails and you need that little extra, I find supplementary motivation helps too – like pictures and inspirational quotes from fitness motivation sites (blogs/Flickr/Pintrest/weheartit). I usually post a motivational picture on my blog on Fridays entitled ‘fitspiration friday’. And we can’t forget that the blogging community is filled with amazing people’s own motivational & inspirational stories. Blogs like The Greatist are awesome for all sorts of tips and tricks.
So what’s the takeaway from all of this?
1) Plan, plan, plan! – your workouts and nutrition in advance so you have no excuses to stray from the righteous path!
2) Get into the habit of exercising and eating well. That way when motivation has left you desperate & crying on the curb you can just switch into automatic ‘robot mode’ and get yourself into your workout gear and out that door….consistency is key!
3) Pick a goal to train for; a fitness event or an upcoming celebration to help keep your head in the game & outta the fridge!
*Stephanie asks: Is anyone still out there reading this or are you all on treadmills by now? (No response..) That’s what I thought…I’m with you. Thanks Melly, amazing post and great pointers we can all take from it!