Getting motivated and staying in that frame of mind once you get there isn’t easy to do, at least for me. Clearly everyone is different when it comes to this and I’d like to talk about what its like for me.
When it comes to fitness its like work to me. I have to exert myself and work against the laws of physics, particularly the law of conservation of energy where the total energy of an isolated system remains constant—it is said to be conserved over time. To me in this context it means that I’d rather be doing as little as possible and not expend excess effort thus working up a sweat and heating up my body with an increased heart rate. Again that’s too much like work.
However, the physical benefits I gain from exercise do outweigh my desire to do as little as possible. Beating back diabetes has to be at the top of my list of benefits followed by a host of other medical maladies that are associated with being overweight. Plus there is the psychological aspect of how you look in the mirror as it relates to overall confidence in yourself. I feel a lot better mentally about myself when I see that I don’t weigh 260lbs like I did when I was at my worst 11 years ago.
Getting to the point of my message here is that the motivation required for me to engage in and accomplish fitness goals only comes from within me. Other people find motivation by watching and speaking to others who are at a place they wish to be at, or with friends and family who are on the same journey together to get fit. It could be that others derive their motivation from watching top fitness professionals and amateurs alike on TV, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook et al. and aspiring to be like them. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that as long as the individual sets reasonable goals for themselves that they are likely to achieve. Setting an impossible goal will only lead to failure and disappointment. Mitigate your expectations and take them in small steps, one at a time on the road to your goals and you’re more apt to achieve them.
I’m one of those people who cannot derive motivation from others around me, or on the view screen. Watching others attain their goals or work toward them does nothing for me. I’m happy for them and encourage their continuation toward their goals, but it won’t motivate me to get moving toward my goals. Rather, I have to want the desired effect of fitness more than I want to sit around conserving energy as much as possible. It’s a desire to out balance the benefits of fitness vs. the consequences of obesity and the health risks that come with it. That’s what motivates me to continue exercising and to stay as healthy as I can.
Nothing short of an actual Marine Corps Drill Instructor will motivate me to do what I need to do to stay fit. Even someone playing the part of a DI, an actor, or a civilian led “boot camp” DI can’t do it for me. I’d have to be in USMC Boot Camp all over again to be motivated by an outside force to do what I know I need to do.
One thing that helps me continue exercising beyond the health reasons I’ve covered already is finding a routine or program that I enjoy doing. For years I was strictly lifting weights and doing bodybuilder type of stuff. The exercises to grow my muscles large and look like the guys at the Mr. Olympia contest. Though, I am not, nor have I ever come close to looking like them, but it was something I was doing as a means to get fit. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with lifting weights and building large, strong muscles. But I was finding that it wasn’t helping me get to where I want to be physically with my body. For a while, on and off, I’d do about 30 minutes of cardio on an elliptical machine before or after my weightlifting routines. I found that when I was doing that combination that I was going in the right direction towards my goals. But doing cardio, the same thing, for 30 minutes straight really sucks. It’s tiring and more to the point, boring. I had stopped doing the cardio portion of my workouts over a year ago just because it was so boring and I hated every minute of it.
About a month ago I finally came to the point that what I needed was a change in what I was doing. While my muscles were getting stronger and bigger with the weightlifting, my body fat percentage was creeping up again. Weightlifting for me doesn’t get my heart rate up high enough, and on the few occasions that it would, its not sustained for any significant period of time. The key to burning fat is getting an elevated heart rate and sustaining it for a while, or short periods with a short break in between, like HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training.
My gym, Anytime Fitness, this year came out with their own Workouts app that is filled with pre-made programs of all types. There is a program for just about any fitness goal one could want and allows you to create your own as well. It’s very nicely designed, elegant, intuitive and easy to use, I really like it. As I was pursuing though it I decided to try their fat loss pre-made routines which, so far, is mostly all body weight cardio exercises and has had no dumbbells or barbells incorporated into it. I’m now into phase two of the plan after a month or so of doing it and I’m quite happy with it and it’s doing what I need it to do which is get my heart rate up, sweat a lot and burn some fat. The numbers don’t lie either as my scale measures weight and body fat percentage and I’m seeing my numbers drop as I wanted them to.
Additionally, since I don’t want to lose too much muscle mass while doing all this cardio-type exercise, I’ve incorporated a second program from the Workouts app with kettle bells. It’s a lot of cardio exercise as well, but with strength exercises too. I’ve never used kettle bells before and I’m finding that I really love using them. It’s vastly different from dumbbells and barbells in how they feel and how to use them. Best of all I can do these exercises at home without having to go to the gym. Obviously that means I have to have my own set of kettle bells with which to use. I’ve been slowly building up my kettle bell collection and it’s coming along nicely. My gym does not have any kettle bells there which I think is unfortunate, but that’s the way it is. So what I’ve been doing is the fat loss program 3 days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and then kettle bells on the other 4 days of the week. I go to the gym on the fat loss program days because there are some things there that I need which I don’t have at home. There are also a lot of exercises that require me to be jumping up and down. I live on the third floor of my apartment building and I don’t wish to be rude to the neighbors by jumping and making a lot noise while I workout. Lastly, there are my gym friends that I like to see and talk to while I’m exercising and that’s why I go in several days a week too.
The combination of body weight cardio exercises and kettle bells is showing dividends for me and is steering me on the path that I want to be on towards my fitness goals. These programs take the boredom out of exercise that I get when I run on an elliptical for 30 minutes and helps time pass more quickly as I punish myself in the gym, or at home.
According to the Achievements app on my iPhone, which is paired to the Apple Watch, I am now at 28 consecutive days of exercise of 30 minutes or more. In a few hours from now I’ll make 29 days in a row.
In addition to the changes in my workout routines, I’m also tweaking my diet a little here and there so that I can get to where I want to be. A proper diet is essential to the whole fitness thing. You can’t out train a bad diet as they say.
My motivation comes from my desire to be healthy verses my desire to do as little as possible. Having an exercise routine that I enjoy helps that a lot and having a flexible, but sensible, diet also contributes to my successful motivation.