I've been asked several times in the past week or so, "A.K., how do you stay motivated to go to the gym?" I'd be lying if I said my numero uno source of motivation were anything but a desire to be fit and healthy. My close second is healthy and gradual weight loss. That doesn't necessarily answer the question, but it is my honest motivation. That sounds so uppity and Suzie Sunshine, doesn't it? Well, that's just how I roll. I set an alarm every weekday morning, I complete my morning routine, I procrastinate here and there, but then I haul my butt to the gym.
I admit, weekends are where I fall down on the job a little bit. My weekends are still spent alternating between Ian visiting me here and visiting him at H-SC. Fitting in workouts on his campus are trickier because I don't have my own gym or gym privileges, routine, shower, or gym regulars. But, I digress. Here's how I do it:
(1) Allotting time. Because I'm a full-time grad student who has class in the evenings and doesn't eat dinner until 7:30, I set aside time for my workouts in the a.m. I allow myself a specific amount of time in the gym before I need to accomplish other things, like reading and note-taking. That way, I'm reminded to make my time count and to give it all I've got.
(2) Accountability. I accomplish this in a number of ways. I tweet about it. I blog about it. I text about it. I have a long-distance accountability buddy. We aren't necessarily working out "together," but we are keeping one another on track. If I feel that I have to answer to people about whether or not I exercised, I'm motivated to at least be able to tell them something.
(3) Goal-setting. I set goals on daily and monthly bases. For example, I woke up this morning and decided I would do 40 minutes at level 7 or above on the elliptical. This ended up being almost 5 miles, so I was doing about an 8:00 mile.
My goal for the second half of January (the time after I returned from Christmas break) is to run 25 miles. As of today, I have run 17.81 miles, so there are 5 days left to complete my goal. My knee and toe soreness have hampered this a bit, but I set the goal before I injured myself. My goal for February is to run 50 miles, which I think will be challenging, but doable.
(4) Record-keeping. And last but certainly not least, I record it. Here it is--my beloved color-coded Excel spreadsheet.
I record my goal, what I accomplish, the machines I use, and the length of time I was in the gym on my iPod as I work out. I enter the data in the spreadsheet as soon as I get home. Let me tell ya, it does not feel good not to enter data two or more days in a row. What does feel good is looking back over what I've accomplished each day, week, and month.
Oh, and I also don't beat myself up over missed workouts. If it's not gonna happen, it's just not. Next subject. I'm working out because it's a pleasure for me, not a chore :)
Not everyone is naturally or intrinsically motivated to go to the gym, especially when it's cold, rainy, Friday, a waning crescent moon... and a host of other excuses. If you're one of those people who needs a little push to get going, try one or more of these ideas!
Disclaimer: I'm no professional, and I still consider myself a novice runner who is learning all along the way. These are simply my motivators. I'd love to hear how it's going for you!
P.S. What are your workout or gym motivators? Do you work out alone or with a buddy? How do you get back on track after an absence from your workouts?