Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Who Made Off with My Mojo?

"Never, never, never give up."
-Winston Churchill

In an earlier post, I lamented my battle with a missing motivation. Sometimes the motivation is just gone. So what to do? Here are some of my best cures for a missing motivation:

1. Mix it up. Do something different. If you normally do strength training in a gym, take it outside. Change your running route. Change your playlist. Always run with music? Go without. If you've never done yoga, try it. You get the idea.

2. Train with a buddy. I tend to be a loner in training. It's just easier to train around my schedule, than around my schedule and someone else's. However, there are days when training by myself seems to chase my motivation right out the door.
3. Sleep more. I find that many times, my booty is dragging because I haven't had enough sleep. Studies show that sleeping 7 to 8 hours can help us live longer!

4. Eat quality food. Again, I've found that eating junk food zaps my energy. Be sure to avoid added sugar, processed food, and soft drinks. Eat real food (fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and grass fed, hormone-free meat). Drink water. 
5. Take a day off. Have you been training more than usual? When is the last time you had a rest day? Even God took a day off.
6. Register for a competitive event. This can help kickstart your training again. You will now have a goal to work toward. Make a plan and get busy!

7. Know your body. If you know your body, hopefully you can spy out a funk before it fully hits. Pay attention to how your body reacts to workouts. Workouts that are higher in intensity will require more recovery time. Depending on the time of the month (aka your hormone levels), your body may require more rest than normal. This will also help you prevent injury.

8. Talk about it. Tell a friend who is fitness minded that you are struggling. They will have some encouraging words for you.

9. Count your blessings. Focus on the things you are grateful for. Remember when you first began? How far have you come? How much better is the you today than the last year you?
10. Give yourself a break. Don't beat yourself up. That will only make your funk last longer. Keep moving forward. It will get better. 

Pushing Through

"Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable. However, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer to it than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable."
-Lord Chesterfield

I hate last week. It was a terrible week that I wish I could delete from my life. It was just wrong. Everything just felt wrong. Workouts went wrong. Runs went wrong. Life in general just seemed wrong. I think what made it worse was that I was fully aware that my motivation was completely gone, and there was nothing I could do. I knew there were a million things to be thankful for. I was fully aware of how blessed I am to have a body that works so very well. And it all just seemed pointless. I was over it. Tired of going to the weight room. Tired of running. Tired of biking. Yoga? No, thank you. Biking? My booty hurt. Nothing seemed to fix my funk. 

What's so very frustrating about these lulls when they happen is that I've written countless posts on facebook and given countless pep talks to friends who have lamented about a lack of motivation. I know far too many tricks for curing lack of motivation... but it still was able to sneak up on me and crush me.

How did I cure it? Well, I just held on to everything that I know is true, and I kept pushing through. I ran when I really just wanted to sit on the couch. I went to the gym when I just wanted to take a nap (and on two different days I hated it so badly that I cried in frustration). And thankfully, the clouds of apathy moved on and the sun of motivation is shining again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Most Insidious Enemy

"He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else."
Benjamin Franklin

Well, summer is nearing it's end. I'm back to school in *gulp* less than 2 weeks. It's been a wonderful summer. I've finally convince my husband to take me on as a trainee (not sure what I was more persistent in-- the workouts or the persuading). So what has followed has been a strange and mysterious journey for me. You see, I'm a planner. By Monday, I like to have my entire week of workouts planned-- which days I'm running, which days I'm lifting in the gym vs. at home, and which body parts on what days. This summer has been filled with my scheduled (yeah!) morning runs or bikes and then the afternoon where I just show up at the gym, ready(?) to do whatever he tells me to. There have been days, like last Friday, where I showed up only to discover that it was leg day-- after I had done mile repeats. And I did it. And I didn't die.

Along with learning that I can do a leg day and a hard run on the same day, I've also learned that I've got a big problem: an enemy that seems to follow me no matter how much I try to shake it; no matter how much I've denied that it existed. This foe creeps in and secretly is trying to destroy every gain that I would try to make. I've been in denial. My husband has insisted on NOT training me for months, claiming that I complain too much, that I make excuses instead of just doing the work.

He's right. And I'm astounded at the amount of excuses I use. But they are sneaky little excuses-- not big ones, like, "I can't workout today because..." No. Those would be easy to spot and expel. My excuses are more like, "I didn't run faster because I took a week off." (That week off was a month ago!)  or "Didn't we just do this exercise for the last workout? I better do something else." or "I shouldn't do legs today because I have a long run tomorrow."

All this time I've thought I was putting out maximum effort, working to the best of my ability. In the past weeks I've made some bigger than I thought possible lifts... all because I've shifted to just keeping my mouth shut and doing work. Like most things, this change in thinking is taking time. I'm becoming more aware of the "buts" and "nots."

Some fun I had with excuses for the Under Armour "What's Beautiful" Challenge.

Monday, July 9, 2012


"The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting above average effort."

Maybe it's all the coverage of the Olympics that I've been watching. Maybe it's all the blogs I've been reading about the Spartan Death Race. Whatever it is that has stirred up this feeling in me, I'm grateful for it. I am tired of being average. As I was running a 5k this morning, my thoughts continued to waver between the nearly overwhelming desire to slow down and the craving for a PR. In order to pry my mind away from my body's screams to slow, I began thinking of those Olympians and the amount of suffering they embrace to achieve the level of eliteness that they have fought for. Please. I know that I will never be an Olympic athlete. But I also know that it is that exact thought that has imprisoned me in the stagnancy of average.

If I am satisfied with my level of fitness (or my life in any area), what makes me want to become better at what I do? If I can put forth some effort and get some results, should I just settle? I see this in students all the time, and it drives me crazy! So many are satisfied to do very little work outside of class, barely (if at all) study, and as long as they don't get a D, they are satisfied with their grade. This satisfaction with mediocrity is completely frustrating.

I was discussing this with my running partner (God) this morning. Telling Him that I was tired with being stuck at average; asking Him if I'm crazy for thinking I can ever be better than average? Is that selfish? Egotistical? Absurd? He seemed to reassure me that I'm on the right track. He made us all to have a deep craving for more (evidence is found in the astounding number of addictions that exist-- we try to feed that craving in unhealthy ways). He created us with a longing for greatness. Greatness can be found within all of us. However, my greatness lies not in who I am or what I have done, but in who He is and what He does through me.

One of my favorite Bible passages reminds us of this: "For God, who said, 'Let there be light in the darkness,' has made His light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have His light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves." 2 Corinthians 4:6-7.

So, how do we overcome average? How do we move beyond the idea that "I'm getting older and therefore slower, so I'll just accept it"? We set a goal and train like crazy.