motivation and the little things

I am feeling pretty good and motivated right now. It is 10pm at night and I have a positive outlook on this week so far. The kicker is I started writing this at 8pm and felt very different. I am putting into quotes below how I started writing only a couple hours ago.

“Do any of you have motivation issues? If so, what helps you overcome them? I have now been on this wellness journey since December 1 and have been blogging about it since the beginning of January. For some reason, this week is the week I am struggling with all of it. My appetite has been up, my drive to work out has been down, my desire to sit and be comfortable has been up, and my motivation to eat healthy, track my food, and stay disciplined has been down. I don’t know if the successes of my prior weeks have caused me to feel a bit complacent or if I’m just having one of those weeks, but it is real.

Because of this, I spent some time today looking into how others stay motivated and I have reflected on what has worked for me in the past. One thing I read in a blog by Cheyanne Moxley (which you can find here) is that you should treat your workouts like any other appointment on you calendar and plan your week for them. Plan your workouts and write them into your schedule. This can reset your thinking and help you to prioritize them so they do not constantly get moved around by other things. This rang true for me. I am really good at saying “I want to workout today” but not planning it. What I am ignoring is that I have to be at work early and have a meeting until 5, I still have to pick up my daughter from daycare, make dinner, and prepare for tomorrow. So if do not specifically schedule my workout time, when is it going to happen? One thing will lead to another, it will be 10pm, and I’ll be ready for bed. To avoid this, write the workout into my schedule. This can remind me that it is a priority in my day and I need to keep to it.”

As you can see, I was not feeling so optimistic. The difference is I told myself at 8 that I would write until 8:30 and then do a workout. I was tired and didn’t want to, so I decided to do a 20 minute ride on the Peloton. Well it turns out that a small workout was enough to change my outlook on a day and even a week. The simple act of discipline, to tell myself that I need and deserve the 20 minutes to take care of myself released a string of chemical changes in my brain. This leads me to one of my personal motivation points; to give yourself a small victory to help reset you on your path. The ride I did was not intense. It was not an HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or a climb ride, but it was a 20 minute low impact ride. One designed to help keep you fresh so you don’t burn out. It does not produce huge calorie burns and personal records, but it allowed me to have a small victory. I did it. I overcame the lethargic place I was in and the increase in my heart rate helped release those endorphins and rekindle my motivation.

The last point I want to make about motivation tonight is that it is a feedback loop, and can be a positive feedback loop. What do I mean by this? A good example of a positive feedback loops is melting snow. White snow reflects the heat from the sun because of its white color and helps it stay longer. Once the warmth of spring melts a patch so you can see earth, the dark color of the ground absorbs the heat more than the white snow around the patch. As this patch warms up, it accelerates the melting around it, making the patch larger and depleting the snow at a higher rate. So I find that motivation (or a lack of motivation) feeds itself. A night where I feel lazy may cause me to sit and not move. When I am sedentary, I crave comfort food. Eating comfort food makes me feel lethargic and lazier. It builds on itself in the wrong direction. On the flip side, when I work out, I feel good. This makes me want to move and stretch and eat healthier. When I eat healthier and move, I feel mobile and have a hop in my step. These feed on each other in a good way. Sometimes it takes that one small victory I described above to break the feedback loop. If we can trust and have faith in ourselves, we can get that little step done to turn around our trajectory in a good direction.

Does this make sense? I have more points that I will write about in the future but I would love to hear how any of you try to keep your motivation up. Please feel free to comment below!

-Ben

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