My Motivation

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A while ago a friend asked me to write a post revealing how I stay motivated to work out. I’m a mother of two, I work from home, I have {a couple} friends and interests. And she has all the same issues in her daily life {plus a few more friends, I would guess} and needed some inspiration or an idea or perhaps the secret. As usual, the secret is there is no secret.

On one hand, I was surprised to get this request. I’m by no means a fitness expert, I’m not a hard core…anything. But I do love running. And I do try to do it semi-kind-of-mostly regularly. I go to yoga class when I can. I walk my dogs and hike in the woods. When I can. So I guess that makes me normal for my demographic. And maybe that’s the person who should be telling other women about her motivation as she experiences it. Not as sage wisdom. Not as instructions.

Nothing I am about to share is ground breaking or worthy of a HuffPo type viral post about “Love Your Body And Post a Pic of Your Cellulite” or “How I Taught My Kids to Love Crossfit” or “The Secret to A Hot Mom Body: No Fun At All” or whatever will be the next clickbait post we will all see on our Facebook feeds. It’s just my thoughts, my advice, my experience. And it’s possible there is something in it that will help my friend. Or her friend. Or some random guy who just stumbled on my blog while searching ’39 weeks pregnant naked’ (an actual search term that has led people here SEVERAL times).

Find what you like, and just do that thing.

Here is the thing. There 2 million billion ways to exercise. I am, for the most part, a runner. This is for no other reason than this is the exercise I a) like the most and b) find it easiest to fit into my schedule and lifestyle. End of discussion. Some people are devoted to yoga. Or dedicated to BodyPump. Crossfit seems to be #trending these days. But none of that really matters.  What matters is that you even MILDLY enjoy it and find it fits into your lifestyle. It’s all well and good to see posts about your cousins and neighbors and coworkers lifting 500lbs while doing a handstand and jump-roping during today’s WOD, but if that kind of workout does not resonate with you IT IS NOT FOR YOU. My best friend loves basically all kinds of exercise as long as they start at 5am. My sister will work out at any time of day but it has to be something that could involve a drill instructor screaming really demeaning ‘motivation’ in her face. People and morning shows and magazine articles will tell you to vary your workout and try different things and honestly, that’s great advice. But if you are in the stage of life where time is incredibly limited, resources are tight, motivation is sucked out of you by sleep deprivation, just pick your best/favorite/least hated thing. And do it. Whatever floats your boat, find it, own it, do it.

Be in it for the right reasons.

As much as we all want to fit into the jeans we wore when we were 22, this should not be the main reason be work out. Sorry every magazine ever made for women, but size doesn’t matter. In fact, the proof that it doesn’t matter is that I DO fit in the jeans I wore at age 22 but yet NOTHING on my body feels or looks the same as it did in 2003. And that’s fine. I can run faster than I could then. I can go farther. I care so much less about the number on the tag of my pants. I want to feel great. I want to live a long, long, long ass time until I’m shrunken to 4’3” and  blowing out 113 candles on an inferno of a birthday cake. There are no guarantees, we all know that painfully well by now, but I’m going to give myself the best chance I can by pumping blood through my heart and flushing toxins out of my body.

Take a look in the mirror.

In a glaring contrast to the paragraph written directly above this one, I will tell you that I do work out to feel good about my physical appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t work out to get approval from men. I don’t work out to wear a crop top. I don’t give two shits about airbrushed Jessica Biel on the cover of You’re Not Good Enough magazine (and I bet she doesn’t either, honestly, but gotta get paid). And in reality working out doesn’t drastically change my dress size. I recently went 6 weeks without so much as a 2 mile jog under my belt. Dave was on the road and we were all sick and one thing led to another and my running shoes were covered in dust. I still fit in my pants and my weight was probably around the same number. But after a week of short runs and a few hours of yoga I FELT like I looked better. I felt sexier and more confident. I could run all day every day and I will never fit the exact beauty standards that our culture pushes on me, but I’m over that now. I looked in the mirror and looked basically the same, but felt so much different.

Value your ‘me’ time.

You deserve to spend time on your fitness and health. You deserve to have those moments to yourself. Yes you are busy. Yes people everyone needs you. Yes there are 4 seasons of Battlestar Galactica to be (re)watched while eating peanuts on the couch. But you have to be the one to put your foot down and set limits. With others. With yourself. For them. And for you. There will be days, weeks or months when you can’t carve out the time you want for you ideal workout even if you were more motivated than ever. In those times I squeak out what I can. I don’t beat myself over not logging the mileage I wanted. I take a brisk 30 minute walk to clear my head. I do yoga for 15 minutes to get my blood moving. And when we are in a phase that is less hectic and the stars align, for an hour or so, every few days, I put myself first. And we all share the rewards. (see below)

It pays off.

To some degree I am, like most people I suppose, a results based individual. I can’t continue to do something, particularly something difficult or inconvenient, if I’m never seeing any form of benefit from it. I just can’t. And running gives me results. I feel healthy. I feel strong. On a week where I get in 15 or 25 miles, I feel clear headed. I sleep more soundly. My clothes fit well, my confidence is boosted. I run to beat my old time or to mark a new distance goal, but mostly I run because I like myself, in general, better when I do.

Eat what you want.

I exercise for all of the above mentioned reasons. I also exercise because I love the indulgent delicacies life has to offer. And by indulgent delicacies I mean that I like to eat Nutella out of the jar with a spoon. That is not a metaphor. I literally scoop it directly into my mouth. You can’t, of course, subsist on spoon-Nutella alone. You need lots of vegetables and some protein and lots of water. But unless you are trying to get a six pack (and are you…really? Because WHY!?) my humble opinion is that life is full of delicious things that I want to eat. In MODERATION you guys, I know I know. I run because I want to be that shrunken, grinning, slightly confused 113 year old version of myself. But I eat spoon-Nutella because I could die in 10 minutes. Balance. Zen. Om. (This post not sponsored by Nutella…but if they have some extra, I’ve got spoons. Just saying.)

One thought on “My Motivation

  1. This is another of your posts where I’ve been thinking of blogging on the same topic for a while and not getting to it, then I read your post and am like “Great, now I can just link this post! Done.” :).
    In the line of your “find what you like” item, M has been trying to get me to join a running club so that I don’t have to run alone in the dark in winter, because, you know, safety and a South African man. Every winter he brings it up and I want to (and do) yell: “I don’t WANT to run with anyone else! This is the ONE thing that I get to do ALONE!!” He backs off and spends the dark hours of the winter worrying (that’s got to be love, right? :))

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