How To Keep Going, When Motivation Takes A Hike

February 12th, 2013 posted by Karen Millard

by Karen Millard

What’s the hardest thing about exercising at home? If you’re anything like me, it’s simple lack of motivation. Before I became a mother, I belonged to a gym. No matter how ambivalent I felt, I knew all I had to do was get myself there and the instructor would take over. Even if I was planning a weight training session, just being at the gym surrounded by other fit and sweating bodies was enough to re-energize me. At home, I’m more likely to be surrounded by piles of laundry and dishes waiting to be washed. Is it the same in your house? So what can you do when the motivation slips and you begin to feel that simply getting the house in shape presents enough of a challenge? The first thing to do is figure out what’s causing the problem. Burnout, boredom and failure to see results would be the most likely culprits. Although it’s not impossible to suffer from more than one at a time, we’ll deal with them one by one.

Burnout happens when you overdo it.

You dash headlong into fitness hoping to see results fast. When you see them, you try even harder in a quest for more visible results, greater performance. Soon, you begin to suffer niggling little injuries, unexplained aches and pains, fatigue. Minor infections become more frequent, last longer.Your reasoning goes askew. “I need to be stronger,” you think. “If I’m fitter, I’ll stop feeling like this.” So you work out even harder.

What your body craves is rest.

Even the fittest body needs time to recover. Gauge the amount of recovery time you need based on the intensity and duration of your workouts and your age. Your body at thirty-five will need more recovery time than your body at twenty-five. // Here are some tips for avoiding and curing burnout: If the symptoms are severe, start with a visit to the doctor, just to be sure. Then, take up to a full week off. On purpose! Get a massage, go for a stroll with an elderly relative, push a child on a swing. You won’t lose any significant ground and when you return to working out you may find your performance is better than ever. When you return to your workouts, be sure to vary the intensity, duration and frequency. A simple rule is to follow a hard workout one day with an easy one the next. “Easy” means any low intensity, low impact exercise that still elevates your heart rate. Depending on how you’re feeling, you could also design a program that incorporates easy, medium and hard workout days. Just be sure never to allow two hard days in a row.

Incorporate more days off into your weekly program.

You can still lead an active life in general. But your fitness won’t suffer if you plan for rest days. In all likelihood, it’ll improve.

Boredom is easily diagnosed, isn’t it?

A ho-hum attitude towards exercise, but a strangely undiminished desire to stay up all night eating popcorn. Boredom, in fact, is now my biggest problem. Exercise used to be the most important thing in my life after my family. Now it’s my work. But after twelve years, I’m no longer seeing the changes in my body that motivated me so strongly in the early days. So how have I kept going? I follow these guidelines: Vary the intensity, duration and frequency of your workouts, just as you would to avoid burnout. Then vary the workouts themselves. Cross-training remains popular because the more variety you incorporate into your program, the more it holds your interest. When you understand that exercise is for life, you’ll understand how important it is to vary the daily fare.

Add music.

Put a CD on the player and keep the beat. Music is a great way to take your mind off the effort. Whatever music you choose, just be sure it’s something up-tempo that makes you want to move!

Exercise at a different time of day.

If you usually exercise after work, go for an early morning walk. If you’re fed up with getting up early, take a thirty minute break at lunch time, or arrange for a late supper and work out when the kids come home from school or in the early evening. Stay flexible, don’t get hung up on routines and you’ll be able to keep going day after day.

Recruit a workout buddy.

In my neighbourhood it’s a common sight to see two, three or even four ladies striding out together. Husband and wife walking ” teams” are common too. Working on their bodies, and their marriages.

Wear really great exercise gear!

Look the part, even at home, alone in your basement, and you’ll soon feel the part. Emigrate to a tropical island and spend your evenings writing and your days swimming, surfing and running along white sand beaches… Oops! A little fantasy crept in!

The final motivation-buster is failure to see results.

Here’s where I get tough. Exercise works. If you do it right. If you eat right so that the wonderful muscle tone isn’t hidden under a layer of fat. It’s possible to eat too much healthy food!

First, check your goals.

Are you aiming to lose weight? Increase cardiovascular fitness? Tone or gain muscle? Then ask yourself some hard questions. If your aim is to lose weight, are you exercising aerobically at least four to five times a week for 30 to 45 minutes? How’s the intensity? Strolling along, chatting to your friend just won’t do it. Pick up the pace.

Are you lifting weights?

It takes a combination of diet, aerobic exercise and strength training to develop the perfectly conditioned body. Running six miles a day will trim fat off your belly, but it won’t flatten it. Conversely, weight-training alone won’t trim fat. If you are weight-training, are you working out each muscle group at least twice a week, using a weight that’s heavy enough to fatigue the muscle on the last two or three reps? Are you allowing enough recovery time between sessions?

Are you being realistic in your expectations?

Exercise will make your body the best it can be. It will not alter the basic structure of your body nor reprogram your genetics.

How long have you been working out?

Most experts agree it takes about twelve weeks of dedicated effort before results become visible. If you’ve run through this check list and are still dissatisfied, I suggest you keep a training diary and record your progress. How long could you keep going the day you started? How long can you keep going now? My exercising life began with a $4.00 skipping rope. I did 25 skips and collapsed, my lungs hurting for air, my stomach nauseated. For a whole week I did 25 skips, and for a whole week I collapsed at the end of them. The next week I thought, “What the heck!” and tried thirty. I still collapsed, but I made it to thirty first! I graduated to fifty. Then a hundred. Pretty soon I wasn’t collapsing anymore and I knew I’d made significant gains. Fitness isn’t only about how you look. How you feel inside, and your body’s new capabilities are important yardsticks, too. Make exercise enjoyable, stick with it, and pretty soon motivation won’t even be an issue. Your workouts will simply be part of your life.

Karen Millard (11 Posts)


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Cindy Rowe
Cindy Rowe (7 Posts)

Cindy Rowe is the owner/editor of Crazylou Creations blog. On the blog, you will find a little bit of crazy, and a whole lot of fun! As a FT working mother, she still finds time to create crafts, play around in the kitchen, plan parties and exercise. You'll find all of this and more on her blog!


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