Motivation: Beyond the catchphrase


This is part of an ongoing series where I take a look at motivational images, phrases and soundbites culled from “fitness motivation” websites and other sources.  I break them down and try to figure out what makes them effective or ineffective spurs to motivation for me.

This particular poster is one of my favorites because it speaks to one of my especial weaknesses.  I am easily distracted and easily addicted.  This is a bad combination.  More times than I care to remember I’ve gone into an evening (or a full weekend day) with the intention to workout, gotten distracted by a TV show/computer game/book/other thing and turned around to find that the entire evening (or day) is gone and I haven’t worked out (or done anything else important or productive).

Time flies.  Sometimes we waste time without really being aware of it.  Other times we intentionally avoid doing things we know we should do, such as workout.  Other times we are legitimately busy and have unavoidable obligations that consume large amounts of time (although this is less often the case than most of us portray to others).  In any case, it is really easy to cut out working out.  In fact most of the time I bet it’s the first thing to get squeezed out.  Here’s the thing though: when I don’t workout, my life falls apart.  I get stressed, I start eating badly, I don’t sleep well, I let other important habits (cleaning, grocery shopping) fall by the wayside.  I get grouchy.

The key?  MAKE the time to workout.  But what does that mean?  It’s not as if you can just wave your hand and add hours to the day.  You can’t just set your clock back three hours and give yourself wasted time back.  “Hey, boss, I’m supposed to make time to workout so I’ll be coming in at ten from now on”?  Probably not.  And you – or at least me – aren’t going to quickly and easily stop doing the time wasting activities (TV, computer games, Internet).  Some people will same “time management”.  But that’s a stupid term.  You can’t manage time.  You don’t manage fifteen minutes and turn it into 30 minutes.  There is only doing something or not doing something.

So “making time to workout” simply means “making yourself workout”.  Making yourself DO it.  At first, particularly if I’m in a bad rhythm, this can be difficult, even ridiculous.  For example, after Christmas and New Year when I got out of my workout routine and had to start making time for exercise, I didn’t do it by eliminating books and computer games.  I didn’t do it by getting up early or skipping out on work.  But I had to do it.  So I made the time by just doing it no matter what or when.  9pm?  Doesn’t matter, go workout.  Tired and have to get up early tomorrow?  Doesn’t matter, go workout.  Overslept on Saturday and now it’s 95 degrees and sunny?  Doesn’t matter, go workout.

So at first, I’m making myself workout at whatever time is available, even if it’s inconvenient or ridiculous.  But eventually, usually within a week or two, I get tired of the ridiculousness and I start MAKING that time more conveniently, meaning I start to do my workouts at a more convenient time in place of other activities.  “Self”, I say to myself, “you know you’re going to make yourself workout at some ridiculous hour anyway, so go do it now, right when you get home.  That other stupid stuff you’ve been wasting time on [computer games, music practice, sleep, etc.] is a lot easier to do at 10 o’clock at night, so go workout when it’s more sensible.”  Eventually, a combination of workout routine, improved fitness, and complete fatigue force the elimination of less worthy or less productive and rewarding activities.  Boom.  Time made for exercise.

[The poster clearly says “” on it, but frankly I’ve never been to that website.  I got this image from fitness related Tumblr – don’t remember which one – that is just a vast stream of random images – mostly either lame platitudes or unattributed quotes or pictures of bodybuilders and figure competitors.]


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