Why do I love being so lazy?
I’ve asked myself this question many times while wearing my unused workout clothes, finishing off a bag of chips and catching up on just one more Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode (a show I’ve re-watched probably a dozen times).
In my defense, Buffy is an amazing show. And chips are crazy addicting. But the real reason I’ve often opted for vampires and snacks over working out is probably one of the top reasons other people struggle: motivation.
It’s a daily struggle having to choose between catching up with Westworld or working on my deadlift. And laziness is actually low on my list on obstacles; the most common reasons I skip a workout:
- No Time: I get busy. We all do.
- No Energy: After a long day at work, doing chores, doing homework, etc etc, all I want is having nothing “to do.”
- Insecurity/Self-Doubt: I never realized how big of an obstacle my own insecurities were. It’s probably something that we all struggle with, especially when social media is there to constantly remind us of our inadequacies.
- Hunger: OMG! If I am hungry, there is NOTHING getting in my way of finding some food.
- Injury: As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been dealing with back pain for several years and nothing sounds worse than exercise when my back/hip/glute is in serious pain (Side note: Don’t workout if what you’re doing will make an injury worse).
- Anxiety: Like I talked about in great length in my last post, I struggle with anxiety and that presents itself as an obstacle in a myriad of ways.
In my mind these are all valid excuses. But that’s the thing — they’re excuses. If I’m making my health a priority in my life — better yet, if I’m making myself a priority in my life — I have to do just that, prioritize time for being active. It can feel like self-care to indulge in a day-long Harry Potter marathon (OK bad example- HP is the best), but your body isn’t going to feel the love after Snape dies and you morph into the couch.
So how do I motivate myself off the couch and to the gym? Here’s some motivational tricks that have worked for me:
Set a Workout Goal, But Focus on Mini Goals
I mentioned in my first post I want to eventually compete in a powerlifting competition. For me, that’s a big hairy audacious goal. It looks awesome when I get there, but being a lifting novice it’s going to be awhile before I get there. If I focus on this one lofty goal, I’ll be disappointed and lose motivation if I don’t reach it in a month. I think that’s a problem a lot of us face; we expect to go from couch to marathon in a week and give up right away when it doesn’t go as planned. So I set mini goals just for myself and focus on those on the way to my big goal! Like I wanted to graduate from using the lighter “female” bar on my bench press to the heavier “male bar.” And I did it this week! Goal met and sexism vanquished (not really…)!
Schedule in Your Workouts
If you work 9-5 with a commute, there’s no food in the fridge, and/or your kids/dog/parents/significant other is demanding your attention, I sympathize. But those aspects of your life will probably always be an obstacle. So pencil it in to when you reasonably know you might have an hour, 30 minutes, 10 minutes of free time you probably otherwise spend scrolling Facebook. And plan it well in advance so that when your friend, boss, spouse or whatever demands your attention, you can tell them your schedule is already “booked.”
Side note: Don’t pick a time you know doesn’t work for you. If you hate mornings (as I do) why on earth are you trying to get up early?
Ease into it
I mentioned above that you are going to be to be sorely (literally) disappointed when you shoot for the stars right away and crash back to Earth. Set those mini goals and ease into it. If you have not worked out at all in a year, don’t go to the gym for 5 days a week lifting the heaviest weights and run 5 miles. You’ll be so unbelievably exhausted, sore, and defeated you’ll never go back again. Also, just because you’re not immediately feeling #swole doesn’t mean you’re not getting stronger and healthier. I think instant results are a total farce. Remind yourself that with anything, progress takes time.
Seriously, Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Oh man I am SO frequently guilty of this. If I go to gym and see a girl lifting heavier than me, I get jealous. If I’m doing a workout video and can’t keep up with the trainer, I get disappointed. If I go on Instagram… ya, everyone on Instagram makes me envious. I have to remind myself daily that I can only compare myself to myself. I’m probably not going to be stronger than that girl at the gym because she’s taller and bigger than me. I’m not a personal trainer for a living so I don’t have to be as fit as one. And Instagram, seriously it’s all faked. Good lighting, angles, and some Photoshop and anyone can be a model.
Do Something You Like
I know that running is a great exercise but I hate it. And I am for whatever reason terrible at it. So when I tried to make running my main workout, I worked out probably once a month. So I’ve learned: If you hate something, don’t do it! Find something you like, better yet love. Because at the end (or beginning) or the day are you gonna be motivated to workout when it sounds like torture? Probably not. I’ve found I love weightlifting, Pilates, ballet, barre, and hiking. I still hate running but if it’s nice enough out, I’ll torture myself on a run to get a little sun.