Motivation, and Five Ways To Get It

 

There are so many times I hear people say, “I’m too busy to run!” “I’m too tired to work out!” “Seriously, my day/work/job has been exhausting.” Hell, sometimes I hear it from myself, and sometimes it’s true.

But usually, it isn’t.

There are tons of people out there who work exhausting, grueling days – 10 hours, 12 hours, tiring exhausting work – and still stop at the gym on the way home, or go for a run at night.

“But my gym isn’t open late!” “I can’t run here at night, it’s unsafe.” “But I’m so tired.”

These are excuses.

There are plenty of workouts you can do in the safety and privacy of your own home (You Are Your Own Gym); some of them only take 12 minutes (BodyRock). Many gyms are open late; many neighborhoods are safe.

It’s really up to you.

Trust me, I understand. I have a very broken body, and I work 12-hour days when I’m not going to grad school: I understand busy schedules and limited energy.

Here are some of the ways I can get myself going when I need to.

  1. Just go. Don’t give yourself the choice. Tell yourself you have to do it. Yes, this makes a workout feel like a chore rather than a prize – but it can get you out the door.
  2. Compromise with yourself. Sometimes when I’m exhausted and supposed to run 6 miles, I’ll make a mental compromise: If I go out and I still feel horrible, I’ll just do an easy 3. If I feel okay, I’ll do all 6. More times than not, I feel great once I’m actually out there, and I’ll do the whole run. But I’m also careful to listen to my body — if it does feel horrible, I cut it short, enjoy the fact that I did something, and make sure to rest.
  3. Treasure your rest days. This goes with the above — make sure you take a note of your rest days. Pay attention. Notice how you feel after them. Don’t fill them up with workout-y stuff and pretend they still count as a rest day just because you’re not doing a run. The more you can specifically let your body rest, the more likely you are to have those needed reserves of energy on days you want.
  4. Don’t be a loner. If you’re having trouble motivating yourself, don’t do it by yourself! Join some kind of social fitness network (MyFitnessPal, Fitocracy, forums at NROL4W, etc etc...), or use your Facebook / Twitter / etc to keep yourself honest and motivated. Do a challenge with a friend, or let your coworkers shame you into that late night pushup routine — whatever works for you.
  5. Understand yourself. If you really are tired, and you do skip a night, appreciate that – and come back harder the next day. If you get down on yourself for skipping one night, that feeling will just suck away all of your energy, and you’ll end up missing a week… or more. Allow yourself to really enjoy the night off, and then use that rest to hit it extra hard the next day.

 

 

Absence, Injuries, Illness – and me

I’ve gone from almost-every-day posting to almost-no posting, and here’s why. Last week Tuesday I was struck with a fever completely out of the blue – about 102-103F – and Wednesday I woke up with swollen tender painful red streaks down my left side. It turns out I had a skin infection – the cause of the fever – which moved into my lymph nodes and, well, my left breast. The infection is what caused the fever. I’ve been on antibiotics since Wednesday, and I do seem to be getting better, albeit slowly; the fever is long gone, but the red streaks and marks are just now starting to subside.

I do not necessarily know what caused it, but I wanted to post a mention of it, because there’s a decent chance that I got it from the Warrior Dash. Please note that I’m not saying “The Warrior Dash gave me an infection / got me sick” or “You shouldn’t do the Warrior Dash because it’s full of filthy illness.” All I am saying is, if you’re someone whose immune system is already a little compromised, and you’re prone to getting sick and getting infections and fighting these things off, you may want to take extra care at the Warrior Dash because you’re going to be swimming through untreated lake water and crawling through what is probably germ-filled mud. It’s just a word of caution! My guess is many people (who have normally working immune systems) won’t even have to worry about it. No one else in my group got sick at all.

So that experience had me flat out in my bed for 2-3 days last week, for starters. I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be running very much while fighting an infection with antibitics anyway.

In the meantime I also started physical therapy. I went once last week and was thoroughly unimpressed at the session: I got almost no relief out of it and was instead assigned some seemingly useless exercises to do every hour (nearly impossible at the job I work).  I did the exercises when I could, but didn’t think they were doing much, and was overall discouraged and irritated. However, I went back yesterday and found the session a lot more relieving. I was given 15 minutes wrapped in a hot pad to start; then I did some actual exercises with the therapist (an arm bike, which was actually pretty funny, because it feels really dumb to pedal a bike with your hands; then some weight exercises for my shoulders and traps – which were extremely low-weight versions of exercises I had already been doing in my heavy weight lifting period, which implies that maybe trying NROL4W was a contributor to this problem in the first place). Then afterwards they put me on traction for 10 minutes. Can I be in traction every day. Oh my god, it felt so good. They put a clamp around your head and basically pull it upwards from your neck at a set pressure for some time, then relieve it, then do it again. Holy shit. It was amazing. I’m not sure how much lasting relief it will provide – and the problem isn’t entirely in my neck; it’s in my shoulders and upper back too – but I feel the second session was a lot more promising.

So between the infection/fever and physical therapy, I have not had a lot of time or opportunity (or, to be honest, motivation) to work out very much. On Friday morning I did go to the gym and run a fairly easy 3 miles followed by a 20 min swim, which felt quite nice, but I haven’t done much of anything since then. My company is hosting a lot of interview candidates this week so I am not sure I’ll have time to do anything until tomorrow or Friday.

I am pretty much resigning myself to not performing very well on my part of the Akron Marathon Relay. The rest of my team is fighting injuries too, so I don’t think I’ll necessarily be hardcore disappointing anyone, but it is pretty demotivating to look back through the recent history of this blog and see how much time I have lost to injury and bullshit.

I will continue to run: I have three Fridays before the race, on which I can do the 7-mile loop near my house that I’ve been using, and I’ll put in what miles I can on the other days. After that race is over, however, I may need a very long break from both weightlifting and long running until I can heal the damage I’ve done to my body. I’ll need to make a plan to move forward, because otherwise I won’t do much of anything. :/

The Line of Hypocrisy

Sometimes this whole health thing feels like I’m walking a thin line through a grey area.

I have these great goals – calories, macronutrient ratios, protein target, daily workouts – but they’re just goals, just words, just arbitrary numbers in a black hole, unless I make them actions and choices and targets. It takes motivation and commitment.

But then again, I don’t want to be that person who can’t go out for drinks after work. I like drinks.

The whole reason I started this blog here was to track a month or two of actual serious, dedicated effort, to see how much of a difference it actually makes. But because of that, every day I don’t do something feels like a wasted chance.

Do I want a month of seeing what it feels like to go 150%? Or do I want a month of a system I can actually maintain as a lifestyle?

And on the third (? Fourth?) hand… How can I go on and on about being healthy and “listen to your body” and then get mad at my body when it wants a rest day?

Health isn’t just physical. There’s mental pressure and stress that comes with this kind of thing – because health isn’t easy – and there has to be a balance, between the health gains you get by doing certain things and the energy you spend to get there.

THIS SHIT IS HARD AND IT SUCKS

What keeps you motivated? Are you a strict life-plan type or a more general lifestyle person?