New Year, New You! How many times have we heard that? And how many times do we set out on a new year journey with the best of intentions, only to find that they fall to the wayside, some sooner than other. Because, not for nothing, but LIFE. Life can be overwhelming, exhausting, and throw you a few curve balls when you least expect them.
This post is for everyone. For those who need a little boost as we jump into 2016. Those who need a little ‘atta boy (or ‘atta girl). And those who are looking for motivation in all the right places. That would be right here, just so you know.
A year after the birth of my first son, (who will be 11 years old in February – Oh Em Gee) I found my local tribe and began a healthier lifestyle with a fitness course called Stroller Strides. Before that, I was basically a mess. I wish I were kidding but no, I’m not.
Anyway, it was there that I met many dear friends, including Brandi, Jen, and Megan. What kept ME going in those days was knowing that I had a standing date with them, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Haddonfield Adrenaline 5k – 2015- Megan, me, Jen, and Brandi in the front. Matt and Sean in the back. I think this qualifies as business in the front, party in the back?
These women are very strong motivators in my life. They saw me through the very early stages of my running career, meeting me at local parks and telling me that I wasn’t going to die when I swore up and down that I would. (Running brings out the drama in me.)
Jen, Brandi, and Megan have been with me through it all and they continue to be there for me, supporting and lifting me up through every trial and tribulation. Furthermore, they are very strong in knowing their WHY. When you surround yourself with motivated people, you can’t help but set goals and achieve dreams yourself!
Rather than me blather on and on (after all, you get me all the time) I figured I would ask them if they would share what keeps them motivated. Naturally, they were all about it.
I believe staying motivated is a mindset. If your head is not fully in your decision to change, you will never change. As a personal trainer my career is to motivate people on a daily basis, but sometimes it’s hard to motivate myself to keep going.
One trick I have is to take a quiet moment to myself (even if that means escaping into the bathroom or in my car just to get a couple of minutes alone), take a breath, and ask myself what I am trying to achieve in that moment and how I can do it.
I am also a list maker, so if I can find a quote that moves me, I will write it at the top of my list as a reminder, then start to list all the steps I need to work on completing my goal. It’s all about keeping my Negative Nelly voice quiet and not let her be loud enough for me to hear. When I keep her quiet I know I can do anything I set my mind to.
Did you ever hear of that quote that says “I don’t have the time, I make the time” in regards to working out? Maybe it’s because I went to Catholic school; maybe it’s because I’m a teacher but I have been told that I would do really well in the military.
My running schedule is a fine oiled machine that screams at me from most-high on the fridge, like a Jillian Michaels trainer. That’s just the way I like it. The calendar is my motivation. I use good old fashion pen and paper. I need to see the big picture, like a month, to see progress or slowing down. It holds me accountable. I see gaps, highs, and lows. I see variety. Everyday is something different, if I want it to be. I have control, I write it down, and cross it off with pride when I have finished.
It all started like this. I came face to face with very common issues most young mothers have.
“How do I work out with young children/babies?”
“How do I muster the energy after the baby has been crying all night?”
“How do I make time for myself without feeling guilty?”
I only have so many hours to get what I want completed before 3 o’clock hits and then BAM! Homework, snack, dinner, karate, etc!
I was already in the frame of mind that I don’t need to pay an arm and a leg for a gym. I can run at home on the treadmill in the basement or with the jogger. YouTube videos like XHIT Daily work for strength training days.
My magic numbers started out as 2 days cardio, 2 days lifting. But after training for and completing Philly Half Marathon and then sliding right into the Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak (#rwrunstreak), the schedules are showing me that my body can go harder and farther than expected.
Just as I scheduled my workouts, the day also has baby time, rest time, and clean time. It just works for me. Some days, something gets skipped. With hyper-scheduling comes fluidity. But as the calendar shows me, there is always tomorrow to conquer.
What keeps me motivated? I think that I have found that as I get older, what keeps me motivated in most everything in life (exercise, parenting, studying, going to the grocery store, you name it) is pretty much the same things.
Motivation boils down to whatever is going to make me feel happy or is going to make my inner light shine. If the end result is a sense of overall awesomeness, then I can pretty much push myself to do it, whatever that particular “it” may be. I link myself with positive and inspirational people. Motivation is contagious. I do activities that bring the most joy. If in some way it doesn’t feel good at the end, then it might not have been worth doing.
I tap into the mantra of my yoga studio…what is the BEST that can happen??? Don’t go looking at the worst thing that can happen. Bad stuff can always pop up along the way. But, if I choose to venture down a road (or lace up my running shoes, or put my butt on my yoga mat or tackle a new project)…what is the BEST possible outcome? A focus on the positive leaves me challenged and inspired instead of putting me in a negative frame of mind.
If I’m not feeling motivated in the moment, I think of reasons why I shouldn’t do something. Are they truly valid reasons? Or are they simple EXCUSES or JUSTIFICATIONS for letting myself off the hook?
Valid reasons, I can live with.
Excuses, I cannot.
And through the course of it all, I allow time for breaks and silence and laziness and gratitude and reflection. Those moments and days are not “excuses” or a “lack of motivation.” They are instead rewards for kicking my own ass the rest of the time. Those little breaks are a way to honor my joy and reflection on the hard work that goes into everything I choose to do, and they are a way to recharge my motivation for the next task. Nothing fancy, but I have found that truly living a life I love (even in the hardest of moments) is motivation enough to see me through pretty much anything.
I would love to hear what thoughts or mantras keep YOU motivated as you trip along life’s journey. A positive and a forgiving heart seem to really go a long way when I am dealing with myself. I tend to want to go, go, go but sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m only able to do so much in the time that I’m given each day and that it’s okay because I’m still doing incredible things.
Many thanks to Megan, Jen, and Brandi!