Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Motivation or Lack Thereof

I have a confession to make. My motivation is waning.

It happens to the best of us. You are really motivated. You’re on a roll. You feel great. You’ve reached most of your goals. You look great and you can’t even imagine going back to that unhealthy way you used to live. But then, it happens. Something puts a dent in your routine and you get off track. Sometimes it is a simple thing like the change in seasons, bad weather, the flu, or day light savings. Other times it is more serious, like an injury, a sickness, or personal problems. In my case, it was a major kitchen remodel that left me with no sink, oven or stove for 8 weeks! I try not to make excuses. You can’t reach your goal making excuses. There is a big difference between not being able to do something and not wanting to do something. We try to make ourselves feel better by trying to pretend that we can’t do what we really just don’t want to do. You can certainly continue to eat healthy without a kitchen or a stove, but it is definitely harder. It’s easier to order a pizza. But, “It is too hard” is the worst excuse of them all.

As the mornings are getting colder and the days are getting shorter, the urge to stay bundled up under the covers grows stronger! When the alarm goes off at 5am, I find myself sending telepathic messages to my running partner, “willing” her to cancel our regular morning run. I just don’t feel like it. I’ll do it after work, I tell myself. (I hardly ever do). I ran all summer long in the ungodly temperatures, breathing heavy through the thick humid air. I spent the Texas summer suffering through the heat and now I finally have the cooler weather that I was desiring. As a matter of fact, it is just about the perfect running weather. The mornings have generally been in the 50’s with a nice cool breeze. It is only going to get colder as we round out the year and begin the new one. If I don’t get my act together now, it will be even more difficult to do so in December or January.

It wasn’t too long ago that I wrote a blog post about motivation and not taking the ability to exercise for granted. It is so true and important, so why can’t I heed my own words?

Now is the time to turn it around and not get sucked into the temptation of letting myself off the hook with thoughts like, “I’ll enjoy the holidays and start over Jan 1st". It is bulky sweater season, after all. It is too easy to think that a few extra pounds can be easily concealed under our warm winter garb. We all know it can’t, not really. You can lie to yourself, but you will look in the mirror and know the truth.


It’s not that I haven’t been running. I have. Just not as consistently. My 30+ miles 5-6 days a week has dwindled down to 10-15 miles 2-3 days a week. If you are not a runner, you might be reading that last sentence thinking, that’s not so bad. Trust me, a sharp decline in training married with a sharp increase in calories (due to not eating clean) is the quickest route to weight gain.

But where do you find motivation when you don’t have any? I just signed up to run another ½ marathon in December and a 15 mile race in January at the Fort Worth Running Company, which is helping me stay motivated to keep up my long training runs. I am running my first-ever destination race in Huntington Beach, CA on Feb 5th! I am so looking forward to competing in this half marathon in beautiful California alongside one of my best friends. That should be motivation enough, right? I want to be strong! I want to perform well! I want to go out there in the best shape of my life! Lately, it hasn’t been enough. I try to picture Huntington Beach at 5am only to just make a hollow promise to myself that I will make up the miles some other time.

Pinterest (my newest obsession) is chalk FULL of motivation! There are inspiring quotes, pictures of goal bodies, and innovative exercise routines that run by my eyes on a daily basis. The problem, of course, is that I find myself pinning about working out instead of actually doing it. Then I pin gluttonous mouth-watering recipes too, which only serves to motivate me to eat more! You can check out my Pinterest workout inspiration board here.


While I think it is a healthy practice to take some breaks in training (and allow occasional cheat meals) throughout the year, it is never a good idea to let your brain take a break from being motivated to stay healthy. I have the tendency to be an all or nothing person, so I have to be very careful on this slippery slope. The things I give myself permission for today, will become the thoughtless norm next week.

So, I did run this morning (the first time since Sunday). I will set the alarm for 5 tomorrow and try to force myself out of bed again. If I type it here, maybe I will actually do it. I need to flip that switch in my head back to “healthy”. I need to remember to live for my goals rather than for instant gratification. Running for an hour almost ALWAYS feel better afterwards than sleeping for an extra hour. Sometimes it is hard to remember that at 5am. Sometimes it is hard to remember that you don’t always have to listen to that voice in your head (you know, the one that tells you that you would be happier if you went back to bed). That voice lies. It lies a lot.

I am sharing this with you here because THIS is real life. In this blog I share a lot of my successes and accomplishments, but I also think it is important to share the struggles and failures. It is natural to climb and fall, progress and slide, succeed then fail. It’s human nature. I will continue to strive for consistency, no matter how many failures. As long as I don’t give up, despite my mistakes and bad decisions, I will eventually turn it around. The worst thing anyone can do is give up completely and accept an unhealthy body or lifestyle. So, I ask you: What motivates you when you are in a workout slump?

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