Before I became a parent, the journey of cooking a meal included any or all of the following:
- a nice beverage
- experimentation with flavours
- frolicking in the herb garden
- good company
- my choice of music
After I became a parent, the process of making a meal now includes:
- a selection of steamed vegetables
- some form of boiled or grilled meat
- a tired, hungry little person who communicates her lack of appreciation for my cooking by decorating the walls and floors with it
- Justine Clarke’s album ‘I Like To Sing’, generally for the fifth time on any given day
The end goal is the same – to ensure that everyone is fed – but the path to getting there is very different! Suffice to say that my levels of ‘motivation’ for the latter are somewhat lower than they were for the former.
How does this relate to exercise?
Motivation is a mystical entity. Internet searches reveal that it is most broadly defined as ‘desire’, however my experience suggests there’s more to it when it comes to exercise and health.
In my observation, motivation is most evident when there is a reward as direct result from effort. Indeed, desire is involved. But how many people desire to look and feel differently, yet cannot maintain their commitment to achieving this?
When I get asked about how I stay motivated to train, I’m generally stumped for an answer! In actual fact, if you saw me on days that I drag myself out of bed at 5.30am, you would not be witnessing ‘motivation’! Unfortunately with exercise, most of us don’t come away with rippling muscles from a single training session! If anything, the immediate effect of intense training leaves people looking and feeling worse!
Is it any wonder we struggle with motivation for exercise?
Yet we strive to do it due to an inherent understanding that something about it is good for us! There are certain sicko’s who crave their next battering of training. But for the majority of us, the prospect of driving ourselves to acute physical exhaustion in the name of ‘something good‘ is easy to put off until another day.
So here’s the bomb when it comes to motivation:
It’s simply a choice.
Motivation is not a magical wave of positive momentum, as it is often perceived to be. In it’s simplest form, it is the skill of choosing time and again to better yourself.
So, for us mere mortals who have lives that revolve around things other than our training schedules (but who still understand that something good comes from our efforts, and so we endeavour to exercise), here’s my advice:
Become short-sighted! Lose the heavy emphasis on long term stuff. Weight loss, chiselled muscles, improved City to Bay time – all great things, but the journey to achieving these can become tedious when we are plugging away at something that seems a long way off.
Pay attention to the finer details associated with the capacity to move.
Challenge the creative areas of your brain with small but frequent variations to what you do – try a different movement in your gym session or a different route on your walk/run/ride.
Grow the areas of your brain with the capacity to retain and deliver information by pushing yourself into less comfortable intensities.
Enhance your mood and that of those around you so that in the absence of quantity, time spent on task or with loved ones is high quality.
Your productivity at work and quality of family time can be directly improved as a result of a single bout of exercise.
Start to ask ‘what can I obtain from exercising today?’ Keep track and see what happens. With that little carrot dangling in front of you, the choice to train or not becomes simpler, and therein lies the mythical creature ‘motivation’.
If you would like further inspiration to choose exercise more frequently, and how this can better your workplace performance, click here.