“How do you stay motivated?”
When it comes to exercise, I get asked this a lot. If I had “a A + B = C” answer, it may only work for a certain few and not pertain to your situation. Honestly my motivation waxes and wanes. Since I have been running off and on for fifteen years and dabbling in triathlon for three, I feel like I am at liberty to share a few things.
1) I need rewards: I was reading this spring that we make our decisions based on rewards. We may do something that is not always pleasant and maybe not fun because we reap the reward it provides. For instance I hate cleaning but I love looking at my sparkly organized kitchen. Running is the same. In the very beginning and for many years afterwards it was unpleasant and I didn’t enjoy it. But I loved the accomplishment afterward. That reward motivated me for many years and still does during tougher weeks.
2) I need more tangible rewards: I was trying to incorporate track runs into my marathon training and I hated the anticipation of doing them. Often I would skip them all together. Because Jamba Juice and Dutch Brothers coffee are both close to the track, I would reward myself with a juice or coffee after a track run.
3) I need to be running with others: It took many years to find people to run with mostly because of my unpredictable schedule with babies and toddlers. Now I love the fact I have to get up and meet my friend for a run. It is a waste of her time to leave her on a street corner waiting for me. I’m a bit of a people pleaser and in this situation it works in my favor.
4) I believe our bodies were made to move: Our ancestors had to endure physical labor or they would starve or freeze to death. No one had to go for a run because they worked their bodies all day long. Now with many desk jobs and work from home positions, we spend a lot of time sitting. I don’t believe God created everyone of us to be an athlete, but I do believe we are to honor Him with our physical bodies. Part of taking care of our bodies is getting out and moving.
5) I need activities too…not just my kids: The kids sporting world is overwhelming to me this day in age. There are many options and so much pressure to be a star. I honestly think some moms should have their children take a season off from sports and they as moms should pursue their own activity or sport. Many moms I have spoken to share how running or going to the gym helps them be better moms because they are getting their exercise time in.
6) I want to set an example for my kids: My kids see me run and do triathlons and support me in my endeavors. I don’t know if any of them will be runners or triathletes, but I am exposing them to it. As a kid I remember my dad going to the gym or taking me on bikes. If exercise is part of our normal lives, it makes it much easier for them to incorporate it in their lives as adults.
7) I believe it is more than image and weight loss: I do not agree with weight loss companies that heavily focus on image and pounds lost. That rarely motivates me. I do not weigh myself on a regular basis. I have found that when I do, I get too obsessed with the scale. I get overly discouraged and I am more likely to quit and start eating whatever I want.
8) I need healthier ways to cope with my anxiety: I’ve struggled with anxiety pretty much my whole life. Soon after I picked up running, I was working for a church as a youth director. I was on the phone with someone I was trying to plan an event with and we were not seeing eye to eye on an issue. I told this person he/she was not treating others fairly. I have a difficult time standing up for myself. I also tend to communicate with too much emotion. I managed to hold it together but it was exhausting. I hung up the phone fuming with anger. I went for a run and pounded out four miles at a fast pace. I felt amazing afterwards. I remember telling my friend, “I had no idea running could do that.” It really clears your mind and in some ways brings you back to reality. So often anxiety clogs our brains making us only see anxious thoughts.
9) I need to be outside: I have appreciated the seasons, God’s creation, my own neighborhood, weather in general, and quiet mornings since I took up running.
10) I am out there and trying and sometimes that is enough: I’ve heard some moms don’t want to run outside or go to the gym because they fear everyone is watching them. You may not believe me, but people aren’t watching you. Even if they are–who cares? You’re out there and you are trying. Some moms don’t want to enter races because they don’t want to be dead last. Even if you are dead last, you are still faster than the person who is sitting on the couch doing nothing. Focus on your own goals and don’t worry so much about what others are doing. Really they aren’t watching you! If anything they are cheering for you. The running community is a pretty friendly one.
So there you go. 10 motivators. Go tackle that run!