Not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty excellent at squeezing in five to six workouts a week when I have a real, tangible goal on the radar.
- Training for a marathon? I’ll pop out of bed before the sun every workday for an easy three to thirteen miles.
- Looking to lose a few pounds? I’ll recruit a friend and pulse away at Pop Physique, sore quads be damned.
- Trying to tone my wedding arms? I’ll hit the gym for BodyPump twice a week for the better part of a year so that I can “shout” my way all the way to the dancefloor showing off more skin than I’d usually dare to bare.
If there’s a finish line on the horizon, my objective-oriented mind doesn’t have any problem putting in the work. Sure, I might prefer to sleep in or have an extra glass of wine the night before a scheduled workout, but I’m achievement-driven and can generally push any nay-saying to the back of my brain while I focus on my just-within-reach goal instead.
Once that goal’s over, though, all bets are off. In other words, without a goal on my radar, I get so lazy you wouldn’t believe it.
Seriously, folks. Even though November started strong — I raced a half marathon, I finished a 10 pack of Pop Physique classes, I took BodyPump at my mom’s sweet Maryland YMCA — in the weeks since the wedding, my discipline has fallen off more rapidly than Congress’ approval rating. I’ve signed up for and canceled more gym classes than I’d care to admit, hit snooze instead of logging my morning miles, and the only significant walking I’ve done is back and forth to the waffle station four times at our annual Mohonk Mountain House brunch.
Now I know from experience one way to get myself out of this lethargic rut is to simply pick a new goal — sign up for a new distance, perhaps, or find a triathlon to force me out of my comfort zone. But the truth is I SHOULDN’T need a goal like speed or weight loss to pressure me to workout. Exercise brings with it a vast number of other amazing benefits, and they should be reason enough to work up a sweat even when there’s nothing tangible on my horizon pulling to toward a finish line.
- Sleep: Exercise improves quality of sleep and helps people feel less exhausted during daytime hours.
- Digestion: Exercise keeps everything moving and helps reduce the cramping and bloating that our processed diet inevitably brings.
- Disease: Exercise reduces the duration and severity of colds, and longer term has major impacts on things like dementia and heart disease.
- Stress: Exercise keeps me from getting overwhelmed at yelling at my husband, even when he’s clearly yelling at me.
I’m trying to remember that even when I’m not working toward a goal, exercise is a worthy endeavor, and keeping that in mind helped motivate me to pull myself out of a warm bed at 6 a.m. to run six foggy miles this morning. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up that motivation during the holiday season.
(And if that doesn’t work, knowing I’ll be in a bikini on an Australian beach in two weeks’ time ought to do it! Warning: said flight takes us via Hawaii, where there is a goldendoodle waiting to make up for a years’ worth of missing photo shoots. Prepare yourselves.)
How do you keep motivated when there isn’t an immediate goal on your horizon?