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DON'T WAIT FOR MOTIVATION

Asics Frontrunner Bernadette Dancy discusses how to find motivation during the lockdown.


Right now, more than ever it feels like everyone is doing a home workout, going for a run or walk just to break the boredom of social isolation. This can be incredibly frustrating when you WANT to get fit or exercise...but you just can’t find your mojo.

Maybe you sit day after day promising yourself, you’ll start tomorrow but you don’t! Maybe you just can’t get off the sofa, out to the park, or changed into your running kit? It feels like your body has a mind of its own and is point blank refusing to start whatever it is you KNOW will improve your mood and get you fitter and also the thing you say you really want to do.

Why is this? And what can you do about it?

Well, because it isn't actually that easy! Moving requires effort and energy and is tiring. Most people do not look forward to or enjoy the feeling of exertion during exercise, they just enjoy it retrospectively. Even the most highly trained and extremely fit athletes have days when they don’t want to train. So, the first thing you need to do is to stop beating yourself up about it. You’re not necessarily lazy. You’re just competing with far more enjoyable things that you’d rather be doing. We’re bombarded by options that give us a dopamine hit without even leaving the sofa. Things, like scrolling through social media or watching Netflix, are just too tempting! This doesn't suddenly change just because we WANT to exercise. There is always going to be a more attractive offer!

 

The other reason why you’re finding it hard to get started, is because you’re WAITING to FEEL motivated. If you wait to feel motivated, you could be waiting a very long time. Again, most top athletes are successful because they stick to their schedule and get sessions done especially when they don’t really feel motivated to do so.

What can you do to enhance your motivation?

  • Set some intrinsic goals. These types of goals relate to yourself, your personal growth, health and relationships with yourself (for example wanting to be fit and healthy to be able to play with your children or have improved mental health). Intrinsic goals are more likely to lead to long term motivation than goals that are extrinsically focussed (medals, PBs, financial rewards, number of social media followers).
  • Do it unmotivated, moaning, grumbling, complaining, resisting! You want to do it, so do it in SPITE of the fact that you don't FEEL motivated to do it right in that moment.
  • ‘Turn off your brain’ - or at least, ignore the automatic thoughts that occur around the time that you come to exercise. That voice that says ‘it’s cold outside’ or ‘you’re too busy’ will almost always be present. If you were to give it any notice or respect, you’d never exercise.
  • Move knowing it probably won’t feel comfortable BUT also knowing that it does get easier AND you will feel a real sense of achievement once you’re done.
  • Finally, remember motivation isn’t a constant. It comes and goes. Don’t make the mistake of waiting for it. Go after it and you’ll soon see an improvement to your health, fitness and achieve your intrinsic goals, all of which eventually increase your motivation and drive to train. The mind follows what the body does.
Bernadette Dancy is a Health Coach for Stress and Mental Health from London

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