When I first started seriously working on losing weight, the beginning weeks were both the most exciting weeks and the most fearful weeks.
I’ve started up many things in the past, gotten all gung-ho and hyped up to really succeed, and then watched as that enthusiasm slowly dwindled and I fell off the track.
So I was afraid that I’d just run myself right through the same course and end up disappointed in myself all over again. I did my workouts in the mornings.
Each morning that I’d wake up I’d take a brief inventory with myself to see if I could feel the oncoming loss of motivation setting in. Sometimes I thought I did, sometimes I wondered if I’d somehow beat that major obstacle.
Then one day it hit me pretty hard. I woke up completely dreading the thought of working out. My thoughts ran something like this: “I don’t feel AT ALL like working out…Oh, no! I’m losing motivation…I wonder if I’m just going to fall off track now with this, too, eventually…Maybe if I just force myself to go workout then tomorrow it’ll get easier…Or what if it only continues to get worse…”
Step 1: Reconnect With Your ‘Inner Drive’ Regularly
Have you ever had a similar battle in your head over some goal or commitment that you’ve set for yourself?
No matter how exciting it can be to start something new, if you’re like me and quickly lose interest in things, it’s also fearful because you can see exactly where all those good intentions are headed. Yet I have some questions for you.
Is there anything that you’re particularly good at? Is there anything that you have indeed spent considerable time learning? Are there certain standards that you’ve set for yourself in the past that you’ve stayed pretty consistent with?
The fact is, if you’ve been dedicated to anything before in your life then you have the power to become dedicated to something else.
The greatest lesson you can learn from a skill is that you possess the ability to learn more skills.
Discipline is a muscle and although it may have atrophied it’s still there. We just have to develop it.
Now, what if you haven’t ever been dedicated to anything in the past? Well, we have the ability to “catch” others’ emotions. This includes other people’s enthusiasm.
One of the greatest things I did for myself when I started working out was to find role models. I found people who inspired me.
When I went for my morning runs I would think about the things I heard them say, almost as if I were making them a part of who I was.
Guys like Randy Couture. I liked hearing their brief interviews before a fight because it wasn’t about “beating the other guy into a pulp”. It was usually about wanting to challenge themselves and reach a new level of performance.
I admired that love and drive for training and I wanted that. And while I trained I felt like I was developing that.
How could you apply this to your routine? Who do you admire? What do you picture when you feel the most motivated to work out?
Pay careful attention to the pictures and words that run through your mind when you’re at your best.
I try to write them down so that when I don’t feel motivated I can look back at the things that really triggered my passion for training. Do you see yourself looking the way that you want, maybe even having the success in life that you want as a result of it?
I’ve heard of a lot of people finding success with Vision Boards. You can do these as your screensaver or put one on the wall next to your bed.
Find pictures that are motivating and capture the mental pictures that you make in your head best and then put them all together so that you have a clear visual representation of them right in front of you.
You can also pick up a book that you find inspiring. Biographies can be good. I just started reading Randy Couture’s autobiography.
You want to pick out the thoughts and mental pictures that inspire you the most and then recreate those in your life as much as possible.
Step 2: Explore The Vast Emotional Terrain That Comes With Pushing Through
So, back to my first day of really feeling unmotivated to workout.
The next thing that I did was to force myself into my car almost on autopilot and drive to the park where I worked out at.
I hoped that maybe by just following the routine of my workout that the spark would start to light.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I was getting frustrated and scared that I couldn’t get this cloudy feeling to go away. As I sat in my car I watched as an older man came jogging down the trail, huffing and puffing.
A guy who I’d seen running every day. I started thinking about him and the challenges he’s faced. I had always assumed that people that managed to go running every day at all costs were to be envied because they seemed to never experience a lack of motivation.
But as I watched him run on by I started wondering if perhaps the opposite was true.
If perhaps only a guy like him, one that ran at all costs, truly knew what the feeling of no motivation really was.
Because he never missed a day he had to have known what it was like to put on those running shoes when the last thing you want to do is move or even get out of bed.
Did he manage to force himself to run even when a loved one died, or he was up all night taking care of a sick family member, or when he himself was sick? Did he know what it was like to run even when he was stressed at work or the weather was anything less than inviting?
I thought back to when my best friend and I went skydiving. I had expected to feel a lot of fear when I jumped out of the plane. But when I jumped I felt so many emotions that blended together to form something I had never ever felt before or since. There are emotions I could never have felt if I hadn’t gone through that experience.
I wondered if there were emotions and experiences that he’s gone through that I could never know if I wasn’t willing to do the same.
Since then this quote by Theodore Roosevelt has become one of my favorites, pushing me to keep going with my workouts day after day: “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
Step 3: Set Floor Goals As Well As Ceiling Goals
The last thing I did that really helped me to get my butt out of the car and moving was to commit to just going after my Floor Goals for that day.
What’s a Floor Goal?
This goes back to a concept I learned while I was on a church mission in Australia.
Basically, when you start working out there’s an initial excitement that can lead you to set a lot of high goals. And these goals are good. But they can also feel overwhelming on days like the one I was experiencing.
So that’s why it’s a good idea to set 2 types of goals, a Floor Goal and a Ceiling Goal. Ceiling Goals are those goals that you really want to reach for.
They’re the tough ones, the ones that demand everything you’ve got.
Floor Goals are your minimums, the least that you’ll settle for.
So, for instance, in my workout I was doing an exercise called Medicine Ball Slams (a favorite of mine where you throw the medicine ball down as hard as you can like you’re trying to break it open).
I would do it for 30 secs at a time.
My ceiling goal was something like 18 slams. My floor goal was something like 11, a number that I knew I could reach with just decent effort.
I had both a ceiling and a floor goal for each of my exercises and I had them written on a whiteboard that I took with me to my workouts. Doing my workout, just hitting my floor goals, was enough to rev my motivational engine again.
It’s funny how that works, but often you feel so good at the end of a workout that the fire you thought you had lost gets re-lit again and the next workout becomes something you look forward to.