How to Overcome the Exercise Motivational Slump
You know you should exercise but you just plain don't feel like it. You can think of a thousand excuses to put the workout off to another time or another day. "I'll start next week" says the wise procrastinator within. How do you conjure up your inner energizer bunny when Syd the sloth has taken residence from your inner most mindset? When I was racing I was training 15-20 hours per week. There were countless days I didn't feel like training. So many mornings I growled at the alarm going off way before sunrise. Some days I was still achy from the previous workouts. These days I struggle even more with motivation after reaching burn out from all that training and racing. Not to mention my energy hijacking Lyme Disease, I don't feel like I have the energy or motivation most of the time now. But, where there is a will there is a way. And where there is lack of will, there are tricks around it. Here are some tips to have you back in action.
1. Hire a personal trainer
Of course I had to put this as number one! But, it's true, many of my clients hire me mainly for accountability. If you know the what and how of working out you can still greatly benefit knowing that an upbeat person has held your money hostage if you don't show up for your scheduled training session. Money is a big motivator for some people. We all work hard for our money and do not want to waste it.
2. Sign up for a race or competition
You do not have to be competitive or good at the race/competition that you are signing up for. Like having the investment in a trainer, paying for the race in advance and having it on your calendar, you are less likely to slack off as you gear up for it. As a bonus there are so many races out there that give most or at least some of their proceeds to charity. Don't have the cash for a race? Find one whose main purpose is fundraising. Aside from asking friends and family for donations, some corporations will match a donation. You enter your race knowing that you benefited yourself as well as others by doing the work to get there. You can google your area and the type of race or make it a destination search to incorporate a healthy vacation. Here are a few resources:
Team in Training - You have a team to help motivate and coach you. I chose this for my first triathlon. Wonderful experience all around with the one caveat that if you do not raise the required minimum for the race, you are financially responsible for the full amount which can be very stressful.
active.com is always a good go to resource to find not only races but, all kids of sporting activities and clinics
3. It's only 10 minutes, I can do anything for 10 minutes
If the thought of doing any activity for an hour or half hour is daunting, make it a quick 10 minute workout. Chances are, once you get started, you will find that you can go longer and congratulate yourself on accomplishing more than you planned. Even if you only make it through the 10 minutes of exercise, no matter what form it is, and you can not do more, it is better than if you did none at all. I have given the following workout homework for my very busy clients who say they can not find the time: 10 minutes bodyweight strength/cardio burst before work. 10 minutes walking at lunch. 10 minutes corework/stretching after work. Not only will a little exercise throughout the day increase your physical energy, it can be a great mental boost to power through a work day or a stress filled long day with the family. Don't think. Be Nike, just do it.
4. List of rewards
Remember those sticker charts we had as kids/for our kids for completing chores, potty training, or behavior? We can do the same thing for ourselves as adults. And if a sticker on a calendar is motivating to you, go for it. If not, make a list of non-food rewards and give yourself a milestone to receive each of those rewards.
5. Be prepared
Like meal prepping (find tips for that here) can be critical to stay on track nutritionally, planning for exercise is also key. If you plan to workout first thing in the morning, set out your clothes, get your coffee/breakfast/pre-workout drink like this one ready the night before and set your alarm. Don't even let yourself hit the snooze once. I used to start so early it was like I threw myself into it before my body even had a chance to realize what was going on.
6. Oh I get by with a little help from my friends
More than just a great Beatles song, using the buddy system is one of my favorite ways to combat workout burn out. This strategy can have many upsides. Both you and your friend(s)/spouse/kids/team will help each other with accountability. I can not tell you how many times I would not have gotten my butt out the door way before sunrise in the freezing cold and/or rain without my run buddy and vice versa. I have enlisted different friends to run, play tennis, surf, paddleboard, and bike. Basically you have to be active to be my friend. Just kidding. More than motivating each other and counting on each other, I have found this to be an efficient and inexpensive (read free) way to spend time with those you love or at least like to hang out with. Face it, most of us lack free time. Others of us lack both time and money. There couldn't be a more perfect set up. You get quality time that is free, and you get your exercise in. I'd rather do something fun and active together than go out to a bar or dinner. But that's just me. No active friends? Look for online meet ups, running clubs, golf group clubs, etc.
7. Try something new
Workouts at the gym blah and boring? Try some functional training from last week's post. Try a new class at your local gym or studio. Sign up for a league in sport you haven't played since high school. Enroll yourself in lessons in a new sport. I have even found martial arts, fencing, belly dancing, and latin dance lessons at my local library. 1 weeknight a week and free! Have you ever followed your kids around the playground and do what they do? You'll get a good workout for sure! Just don't follow random kids. I imagine it's harder to workout in jail. Hike a new trail. Take your bike off road onto a trail (not a road bike). Bring back roller blading. My friends and I did this during college years and I brought the good ol' roller blades to OC pushing my daughter in the stroller. Got some weird looks but, that has never stopped me before! Speaking of strollers, I also got a ton of use out of my jogging stroller. I would run to the park with it and let my daughter sit there and laugh her head off at mommy doing walking lunges, burpees, running drills, etc. back and forth in front of her. Think about things that you enjoy or used to enjoy and just do that for awhile.
I love to hear feedback from you! If you found a few of these tips helpful, please pass the link along to friends. If you tried some out, let me know in the comments.