Monday, October 5, 2009

Changing Motivators to Exercise

As I revealed a few days ago, I was on the crew team in high school, and we competed a lot. In fact, all of our training, eating, and thoughts revolved around our race schedule. We were very motivated by this schedule! We were motivated by the prospect of winning medals. Our performance was measured on a regular basis, which motivated us to prepare ourselves as best as we could. While competing in a sport on a regular basis, I never really had to think about motivation...

After high school, things changed as I didn't compete in a sport anymore. All of a sudden, I had to work out truly for myself. I have always enjoyed being active, so most of the time going for a hike or a swim, or working out at the gym wasn't difficult. But there certainly were days when I didn't work out because I didn't "have to." Nobody knew...

Several years later when life became complicated and extremely hectic, I started to struggle with exercise. I constantly used the excuse that I didn't have enough time or that I didn't have enough energy. I refused to admit that it was up to me to make time and that exercise truly gave me energy. I was in an unhappy place and looking back, I had lost most motivation... It was almost like I had given up on myself.

I was in desperate need of some motivation. And luckily, I found it. After feeling tired, worn out, old, and unhealthy, I realized that feeling better was not that hard. I just had to seriously start exercising again. Now, I had never stopped exercising completely. I've always worked out at least two or three days per week. But that is just not enough to truly improve your health and your overall well being.

While I was motivated by medals when I was young, here are my exercise motivators today:
  • Exercise makes me happy.
  • Exercise gives me lots of energy - energy I need to be the best I can be in all aspects in my life.
  • Exercise has reduced my high blood pressure into the normal range.
  • Exercise has helped me control my weight.
  • Exercise helps me sleep better.
  • Exercise is often my "me time" - When I work out at the gym, the toddler goes to the on-site childcare. A little bit of "me time" makes me a kinder, more relaxed human being and a better mom. And that's what really counts! :o)
I think my exercise motivators today are a lot more meaningful and important than my motivators back in high school...

Questions: Have you ever felt like you have lost some of the motivation to exercise? What motivates you to exercise?

Be well,


  1. That's why my husband and I train for marathons - although we could do other things like a half-marathon or 5K, having the schedule up makes it non-negotiable what days we're going to work out and how far we're going to go. Otherwise I'm great at saying "oh I'm tired - I did a lot of walking at work today so I'm going to skip the run..."

  2. This is a great post Andrea. When I was 305 pounds the thought of exercise was depressing. I just couldn't imagine that it would help. Fortunately I learned that I was 100% wrong!

    These days, I exercise for all the reasons you said, and I keep my motivation strong by never forgetting what it felt like to not be able to easily walk to my own mailbox!

  3. Oh I couldn't agree with you more! LAtely I have been so un-motivated when it comes to exercise, and when I was in school I played sports so it came natural to me to workout after school.

    Lately I have noticed that on days I don't workout I literally feel empty, like I'm missing something. I also notice that I am much more likely to snack and feel hungry. I really think the chemicals that are released during exercise keep me from mindlessly eating. This truly helps me get into my exercise clothes, walk across the street, and MOVE!

  4. I can definitely relate to this. I love exercise for all the same reasons, but sometimes it's so easy to find reasons not do it!

    We try to keep a regular schedule without freaking out if we miss one or if the weather is crappy and we have to change days or something.

  5. Anonymous10/05/2009

    If one day I don't feel like exercising I just don't. I used to force myself to workout anyway because I should, but now I'm gentle to my body and to my soul. When you take a break, you eventually miss it so you go back to the routine and feel refreshed. :)

  6. During the winter months my motivation to excercise is a lot less because it's so dark out and I love to run outside!
    What motivates me to exercise is knowing how great I will feel afterwards, and knowing that I won't feel guilty eating a bowl of ice cream :)

  7. My motivation for working out definitely fluctuates with the seasons and also just depending on what's going on in my life. But I try to remind myself of the things you mentioned, it just makes me feel better in general and it's my "me" time too. I always feel better after a good workout and am never sorry I made time for it!

    Great post!

  8. I went thru the same exact dilemma.
    I am SO motivated now..I actually get grumpy if I have to skip a little time.

    I feel so much more energetic, and even FIT...and I love that feeling.
    all the motivation I need!

  9. I often lose the motivation to exercise. lol.

    I think you have great tips for motivation though, I especially like the 'me time'.

    Also, exercise makes me stronger, which feels awesome.

  10. I am trying to re-motivate myself to exercise. I joined a yoga class and have been trying to walk with my kids everyday.

  11. There have had many many moments when I get that "ugh...exercise" feeling. But I force myself to exercise. After I do I feel better about myself that I did it.

  12. Exercise makes me feel better about myself. Just all over - I feel I walk higher, feel more alert/prepared, feel like I look better (skin/etc.) - it's just an attitude adjuster on the outside and in. I'm slightly obsessed with it. I love your 'exercise motivators' - I need to set my outlook to send me a reminder of my motivators at 5 p.m. each day! haha Thanks for another great post! :)

  13. I like your "exercise motivations"...indeed I should take your thoughts and apply to my daily life as well...thanks :-)

  14. i LOVE your list! i think its natural to go through exercise once or twice a year (maybe more), i stop exercising for a week or two. that way i get a break and then am ready to workout again!

    thanks for all your marathon support andrea - i really appreciate it :)

  15. Anonymous10/05/2009

    Great post! I agree 110% with your 'list'! Even when i'm sick I exercise, it just makes me feel sooo good! I do get in moods sometimes where I don't want to exercise, but I *KNOW* i'll feel better after the fact so always do it... I aim for at least 5x week, less than that and I 'feel' it kwim?

  16. Anonymous10/05/2009

    My BIGGEST motivation for exercise: it ramps up my appetite! I noticed that if I don't exercise, I just don't have much of an appetite and end up losing weight...weird! I think exercise is SO great that it works to help you lose/gain depending on your needs. So it works for EVERYONE!

  17. I never played sports in school and I regret it and wish I did :( I think it obviously teaches you a lot and a promotes a healthy relationship with exercise.
    Nowadays I have to REALLY get motivated to exercise. I always say I don't love exercise; I love the way I feel after!

  18. I think we appreciate everything more the older we get. Exercise included. Back in the day, it was just playtime. We did it for fun. Now, we know just how meaningful it is for us for body, soul, and spirit.

  19. Great post, Andrea!

    I am amazed by you moms that make time to exercise! Sometimes I feel like I don't have time to fit it all in now- I can't imagine what I'll do when I have children.

    I exercise for most of the same reasons - probably most importantly, just my outlook/attitude on life is more positive, and my energy level is improved.
    Have a great week, Andrea!