Let’s talk motivation
What motivates you? How do you stay motivated? Is it really that simple? Maybe you just haven’t found it yet...
For me, motivation is a learned mindset. It is not simple, it is work. Previously, I was an ice hockey goaltender competing at a university level. At that point in my life I didn’t need motivation; I had coaches, teammates and trainers keeping me accountable every damn day. Once I completed my university degree, I was thrown into the real world with no one to keep me accountable but me. Well that was a rude awakening...I struggled to balance full time shift work, a boyfriend that I had recently moved in with and just keeping myself fed, never mind setting aside time for exercise. Little did I know that I NEEDED that as an outlet for my mental health stability. I knew that I had to set goals to keep myself accountable. Motivation would have to be something I paid attention to, something I learned to feed. Shortly after completing university and acquiring what I didn’t even know was my dream job as a pediatric ICU nurse, I dove in to training for a fitness competition. I thought having this motivation would be healthy for me, teach me to balance fitness back into my routine. This broke me for a long time. I let my relationship suffer, I was always exhausted, hungry and my motivation was to look “perfect” for a bunch of strangers judging my body. I lost motivation because for me, my goal was unachievable. I struggled with body image issues post, binge eating and lost all motivation to enter a gym- the opposite of what I had set out to do. I have absolutely nothing against fitness competitions, but they were definitely not for me. You learn so much about yourself when you fail. (My husband wants me to clarify that I did not fail at the competition, but rather failed at finding my motivation (what a sweetheart haha)). After some self pity, pounds gained and self reflection, I started to focus in on what part of fitness sparked any form of joy. My entire life had revolved around hockey, so I hadn’t been exposed to much else. I thought back to a half marathon I had ran after university; the Loop the Lake in Invermere, BC. It was HARD! I remember thinking that I could be okay with never running again after those hills. Then I remembered the feeling at the end, after crossing the finish line. I craved to achieve that again. It MOTIVATED me. I knew I needed to hone in on that and I signed up for the Sea Wheeze in Vancouver, BC the next summer. I followed a simple training plan off of Pinterest and I crushed my goals. That runners high, I tell you...I was hooked. I loved that familiar feeling of training for a goal again. I felt good, I liked my body after hating it for years and it motivated me to be stronger in other aspects of my life. I found my outlet.
So for me, finding my outlet was step one to getting motivated. Step two was signing up for races and setting goals. Step three was creating structure to be accountable to, a schedule, a plan. Now, as I’ve completed numerous half marathons and one full marathon I don’t have to work quite as hard to motivate myself. It has become more routine, more natural. I wake up in the morning on my days off of work and put my workout clothing on right away. I drink my coffee, and I get my run in...I am now motivated by staying structured. The need for routine and structure comes from having my two little girls. If I lose my routine, I lose my motivation. As my little girls grow, they become more and more of a motivating factor as well. I want them to want to be healthy, and to find their own outlets. So as I said before, motivation is not simple.
My advice is to:
A.) Find your outlet- it is that thing that clears your mind, makes you feel more like yourself, sparks joy and pulls you back over and over again. It may take time for fitness to feel like an outlet for you, but you have to stay consistent, and put in the work. Nothing feels routine or natural immediately.
B.) Set realistic, achievable goals. Your outlet has to be maintainable which means it needs to be flexible. This is why I recommend and love running; you can run indoors, outdoors, on vacation, change up your difficulty, terrain, time and distance. Be forgiving and understand that you don't have to be the best, just your best.
C.) Create structure in a routine. Before my routine began to feel that way, I found ways to make myself accountable. I would set a reminder in my phone, write it down somewhere that I stared at it all day, or committed to run with a friend. I always wake up and put my active gear on immediately so that I am mentally prepared. Again, it takes time to feel routine. If it stops motivating you, change it.
We are human, it’s always going to feel like a rollercoaster. There will most certainly be times that you feel discouraged and weeks that you fall out of routine. Be forgiving to yourself, take those lows and build off of them; they are going to make you stronger. Keep coming back to what motivated you in the first place....for me, it's that feeling, that runner's high that I'll never forget.
All my love,