Keys to Motivation, Part 2: How to Get Up and Get Moving (Especially on Days when You’d Rather Not)
Some days it seems like we’re surrounded by people who are wired differently than we are, people who spring out of bed an hour before sunrise and who probably wouldn’t miss a workout even if both arms and both legs were broken. Where do these people come from? What kind of motivation drives them? And what do they have that we don’t seem to have, no matter how many New Year’s resolutions we make?
The answer: nothing. Well, almost nothing. The only difference between these people and the rest of us is that they’ve found the personal keys to motivation that we’re still looking for. The ab models at the gym aren’t wired differently than we are—They just hammered away at the same obstacles we face until they finally found what works for them. And when that form of motivation stopped working, they hammered on until they found something else. They were relentless in their desire to be relentless. These people don’t always want to work out, but they want to want it. And it’s this ever-present pressure that pushes them toward the useful mind tricks, helpful habits, and personal motivation tactics that keep them going.
If you’re reading internet articles in search of workout inspiration, you’re already on the right track. Keep looking, keep trying, keep testing, and keep pushing. If a motivation strategy seems interesting, try it. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Just don’t despair, since there’s no gain in that. Don’t retreat to the couch pretending you don’t want a strong, beautiful, capable body. You do. And that’s good. Keep wanting it.
Meanwhile, here are few words of motivation that might help you overcome some common obstacles to working out:
Workout Inspiration: You Know the Way, but Need the Will
You know exactly what you want from your body and you’re pretty sure you know how to get there. Maybe you used to run marathons before life got in the way, and you still remember everything you learned back then. You know how to stretch, you know how to interval-train, and you know exactly what working out is supposed to look like and how it’s supposed to feel. Today is Wednesday, which means it’s time for your four-mile…but you can’t…seem...to do it.
Your body has changed, and so have your priorities. You’re not the person you were back then (pre-baby, mid-twenties, or when you were captain of the high school wrestling team). So let that person go. Scale it back. Run two miles instead of four. If you still feel unmotivated on Thursday, then bring it down to one. If Thursday feels great, keep it at two until you’re ready to move it up to three. You’re a grown-up now, so you control your own destiny. Try being a healthy person who runs. Not a victim of the past, and not a couch-sitter either. Just a person who runs. When you’re a grown-up, you write the rules.
Workout Inspiration: You Honestly Don’t Know the Way
You want to be like the marathon runner above, but you have absolutely no idea how to get there and you can’t afford a trainer. What’s next? Putting on your grubby sneakers for a run around the block? How far should you go? How fast? What if your clothes are all wrong? What if you do the wrong thing and injure yourself? Maybe it would be better to sit down a while, and, you know, think it over.
Stop overthinking and put those grubby sneakers on. Our bodies have a way of taking care of themselves, and our instincts protect us most of the time. If you feel burning in your muscles and respiratory fatigue, that’s good. If you feel pain in your joints, neck, or back, stop. That’s bad. Use common sense—If you’re alone, don’t lift something heavy that could fall on you and kill you. Don’t jog through the murder district at midnight. But beyond that, there’s not much you need to know, buy, or do in order to get started. Remember, you can always turn to sites like ours with any questions you may have. You can also ask buff-looking people at the gym. They’re usually friendly.
Workout Inspiration: You’ve Taken the First Few Steps, But Now You Seem to Be Flagging
You did it! You’re doing it! You lost five pounds! You’ve been going to the gym three times a week! Then two times. Then once. Working out felt great, and then for some reason it just… didn’t. This often happens when we hit a plateau and our progress levels off. When we aren’t getting stronger and we aren’t losing weight, working out feels a lot less fun. Sometimes it’s frustrating, and without the thrill of progress, sometimes working out is just boring.
Plateaus are normal and common, and most of the time we don’t even know why they happen. But working out is not just about goals-- It’s also about living a healthy life, day in and day out. Goals are great, but there’s a time and a place for them, and there’s a time to put them aside. Working out should be a healthy habit that feels invigorating, keeps us in shape, and rightfully owns a small piece of our day, every day. Give exercise its piece. Just keep working out and forget about your goals for now. Eventually, you’ll see changes in your progress and you’ll get excited again.
Workout Inspiration: You Really, Really Would… If Only You Could
Working out? Hah! That’s a luxury you simply don’t have. There’s not one hour of the day when you aren’t booked and double-booked, and not one of the obligations on your list can be pushed aside. Not even a chance.
You aren’t the first person to feel this way, and there’s no doubt you’re in demand. But you need to get on your own waiting list. Exercise is a vital part of a well-lived life, and that means two things: 1) Anyone who relies on you relies on your health, and 2) if you take fifteen minutes a day to exercise (that’s all you need!), you’ll have energy, immunity, strength, and mental focus to dedicate to all those other things on your list, and you’ll be able to do them even better than you’re doing them right now.