I recently wrote about the prospect of the “new season”. That time of year the kids had gone back to school, which for me, would herald a time of finding a new routine with my new born whilst fitting in work and exercise. Somehow September feels like a clean slate and you can make a fresh start with whatever you want. But September came and went like a flash of lightning and looking back I just felt disappointment about my lack of exercise. You may recognise that feeling of having all the best intentions and –for whatever reason- you don’t/can’t follow through. Do you find your brain just makes more excuses and reasons to not get out there, all very believable but ultimately unhelpful. I can think of hundreds that have been flashing through my mind, the broken nights and subsequent tiredness, the early darkness in the evenings, the late light in the mornings, having no time on my own and “tomorrow” always seemed a better day to do it. So this morning I decided to go training behind the pram, despite being tired, despite the rain, despite anything.
My friend told me recently how her 4 year old was scared to cycle through a narrow lane at dusk. Suddenly she realised that he cycled behind her saying to himself “I can do this, I can do this”. I used the wisdom of this story to set out training behind the pram straight after the school drop off. “I can do this, I can do this”. My body hurt, rain was splashing against my face and the prospect of being outside for 40 minutes or so just seemed too much. “I can do this” flashed through my mind over and over, because I only needed the smallest excuse to turn round. But then again, I should know the psychology of this more than anyone. Women used to call my personal training business wanting to get fit after a baby, almost always in shock and disbelief that a number of years had passed. When you are out of a routine as a result of a life change then it takes determination (and a degree of insanity) to get back on track. There I was this morning doing an interval training session behind the pram of both power walking and jogging. My baby boy meanwhile sat strapped in the pram enjoying the view and the spitting of the rain drops on the cover that kept him dry and warm. After a while he dozed off to sleep and he missed the biggest showers.
Something started to happen when I was on my way back to the house. Slowly a sense of victory and achievement came over me (combined with relief to almost be back). I had felt very self conscious all the way round as people must have noticed this insane woman running behind a pram in the pouring ran. On my last stretch a car pulled up beside me and lowered the window and a man said jokingly “shouldn’t you buy an umbrella?” I had no opportunity to answer as simultaneously another car reversed into the road and they collided. I carried on running telling myself “I can do this” and “don’t stop and look back!”
Whatever you want to achieve, there are always obstacles standing in your way. Whether you want those obstacles to stop you or not is a different matter and up to you. I am not going to buy new clothes, nor am I going to get trapped in waiting for all the circumstances to be excellent, so this is the way it will have to be. Yes, I was soaked to the bone when I got back, but I felt alive.
This weekend was the big test; I was going to take myself for an interval jog eight weeks after my baby was born. I sat in bed contemplating my next move for ages; my baby boy had been fed so I was able to go. I know that the “first time back” after any event –let alone a pregnancy- is always hard, but instead of motivation I felt dread and apathy which eventually lead to frustration. I wanted to read the paper, have a coffee and do another 1000 things before exercising. What is the answer to finding the motivation to exercise?
People assume that because I teach and write about exercise, I am automatically driven and always dedicated to the fitness cause. It is hard for people to imagine that after 20 years of coaching and training clients, I –too- face the unavoidable battle to finding the motivation to exercise.
It is an interesting psychology. The brain thinks of all reasons to NOT do it and to stay at home, or to delay it till later. Despite all the knowledge of exercise benefits you may have, it seems that at the point of going for it, it’s hard to remember why you are doing it. Excuses almost sound like reasons and the mountain ahead looks impressively big when standing at the bottom looking up. So where oh where is that magical formula that makes you leap up and dive head first into your chosen activity? Research has been done, articles have been written, but is there really that magical wand that helps you along and lets you discover that miraculous bucket of strength and motivation that propels you into regular exercise? I think not.
So, you have clicked on this article to find the answer, to find motivation, to resolve once and for all the problem of wanting to be healthy and fit so much, yet never finding the time or the will to do so. There will always be more reasons to NOT do something and those reasons will pop into your mind at a drop of a hat. The only remedy to surpass them is sheer determination, the strength to put yourself first for once and a laser like approach with a tenacity and a conviction that nothing and no one can stand in your way. How hard is that? Very hard and that’s why few accomplish it. Regard every exercise opportunity as a junction. There is a left turn that is sticking to your intention and then there is a right turn that –even with the best reasons in the world- is a distraction. You can help yourself with the following strategies:
I will be posting regular articles on how I am getting on, as well as tips and advice on getting healthy and fit whilst juggling a busy life. Go for it and stick with it. Good luck!