I’m in a lot of women’s fitness groups on Facebook. We talk about lifting, we talk about food and occasionally we talk about things unique to female lifters (I’m willing to bet no men’s group ever had an extended discussion on whether or not one should care about visible panty lines in spandex pants).
Occasionally, somebody reaches out for motivation. They used to be gung ho to get to the gym, now they can’t get up the gumption to get off the couch. Or they’re going, but less frequently and putting in less effort. The truly desperate gave up months ago, ate their way through the holidays like a snowplow on a rescue mission and now don’t know where to begin again.
I get asked the question about getting their mojo back because I’m a gym junkie. Left to my own devices (and if those pesky bills would stay off my ass for a while), I’d be in the gym 6-8 hours per day, happy as a clam. Work, being a wife, being a mom and being a friend mean that while the full day thing doesn’t happen often, an hour or two usually does, 5-7 days/week.
I don’t have a Harry Potter wand to wave and make all your motivations return. But I have some advice. Actually several pieces of advice.
First, set actual and measurable goals. With a deadline. What’s the best way to do this? Compete. Nothing cuts through fuckarounditis like a deadline and the possible public shame of failing in front of an audience. Not “feeling the gym happies”? Too bad. Let fear drive you. When you’re drinking champagne and celebrating after the fact you’ll appreciate the swift kick in the butt that is competition.
Second, consider your support system and to whom you are accountable. If the answer is nobody, that might be your problem right there. Not everyone is self-driven. In fact, as a species we are very sociable and tribe like. So hire a coach, join a Crossfit box, make a pact with someone who belongs to your gym or maybe even join a challenge online. Find other people who will expect you to show up and cheer on your efforts when you do.
Third, fake it til you make it. There are numerous studies showing that if you do something consistently, you’re psychologically loathe to “break the chain”. So promise yourself you’ll go to the gym every day for a week. Get an old fashioned wall calendar and put a big X on every day that you do it (or a sticker or a smiley face or whatever). Visually and psychologically you will not want to leave a hole in a continuous pattern by skipping a day. Sounds silly but it actually works. My perfect example of this is the 21 Day Squat Challenge run by Nick Horton and Tamara Reynolds.
Fourth, and maybe most important of all, find something you actually love. Going to the gym because you want tighter thighs is not, in reality, much of a motivator for the long haul. Going because you have fallen passionately in love with ……… (fill in the blank) is a completely ‘nother thing. Rock climbing. Weightlifting. Bodybuilding. Powerlifting. Curling. Yoga. Maybe even (gasp!) running. Or maybe your groove is needing constantly varying stimuli. Great. Then do all of the above (accepting that you’ll never be great at any). I spent my 20’s and 30’s forcing gym work (read: endless treadmill hours) because I wanted to look better to other people. I have spent my 40’s having to be dragged out of the gym by my family or my pager because I can do 1,000 repetitions of a snatch and never be bored. The rabbit hole of technical lifts makes my geek heart sing. Find your bliss and your heart will sing, too.