Do you ever not feel like working out?

I have recently taken to writing email messages to our members on various topics which, I am happy to say, have received some positive feedback. If someone else can benefit from these musings, I am happy to share some of them here on our blog, rather than just keep them to ourselves.

I don’t always feel like working out. I don’t always feel like getting under a heavy barbell or working up a sweat. I know that I should do it, but I don’t necessarily feel like it. I think that is quite common. A while ago we sent out a survey on Facebook to see what people saw as obstacles to getting in better shape, health and fitness and one of the more frequently given obstacles was laziness or lack of motivation. I think that we see so many pictures and stories on social media of people “killing it” when it comes to eating better and working out that we think we are probably the only ones who lack the motivation to do something about it and so we tend to wallow in our negative loop of wondering why we don’t seem to enjoy it as much as the people we see on Instagram or Facebook. Here’s the thing, as much as training and eating a certain way is very much a lifestyle for me at this point, in all honesty, I don’t always feel like it either. I know that I will probably feel better after I’ve done it, but distractions pepper away at me too. “Focus on your goals!” “Keep your eyes on the prize!” We are supposed to keep these mantras on our lips to help propel us to stay disciplined. Discipline is tough medicine. And willpower is an elusive power source. I have some tricks that I try to use, some “hacks” to keep me on my path. I am happy to share in hopes they can help someone else.

First of all, when I am on a roll, I really don’t want to break that momentum. There is actually something to this. I can look in my training journal (a great reason for having one, by the way) and see a good series of consistent progress or even just showing up, and part of me wants to see that line continue. This might even be stronger than thinking about an abstract goal that I haven’t achieved yet. Because I think that recognizing past success and effort, no matter how small, is much more motivating than driving toward an unrealized and ideal future. I look back on the past month and see 12 times that I came in and “did the work” and I can feel good about that! And I know that those times required me to do it when I probably felt like doing something else. This is why we want to do Bright Spots, it gives us a chance to see how we were good at something, where we succeeded, and had an opportunity to be awesome! Turns out this is also a strategy for substance addicts to keep on their path to sobriety, by focusing on what they are doing that is successful rather than when or how they fail. And if anyone has a tough road ahead of him or her, it is someone who is struggling with an addiction!

Also, what is the minimum I can do to still qualify that I did what I needed to do today? I have shared this before in conversations but it is worth sharing it again. Sometimes I will tell myself that if I only do a little warm-up that is enough and better than doing nothing. And it is, of course. But it is a trick, and I know it is a trick, since after I have done the warm-up I will probably feel like doing a little more, I am already warmed up, after all. So I do my first exercise, maybe just a couple sets, I tell myself, I can stop then and still be ahead. Well, since I am this far I can do one more set, maybe the first “heavy” work set. And so it goes until I have actually done the entire workout. Because I was already that far along anyway, I might as well continue. But if I had stopped at the warm-up, that would have been OK too.

OK, here is the tough love “hack.” Tough love because basically, it isn’t really necessary to feel like doing something in order to do it. I don’t always feel like making food for my family, and yet I do it. I don’t always feel like helping my daughter with her homework, and yet I do it. The feelings don’t have to come first. Often, they will follow if we just start taking the steps forward. If you are going to hesitate, then hesitate at putting yourself at the mercy of having to feel like doing what you know you need to do. Then take that first step.

Yours in strength,

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