Hey there! Today I’d like to focus on motivation again, since we all struggle with finding it and keeping it. I know I risk being repetitive, because we talked about motivation last time. But I hope this is a different spin on the same concepts discussed in my last post.
I encourage you to see that motivation is like a garden. If you just plant seeds in the garden but never water it or tend to it, you’re not going to reap a harvest. Motivation, just like a garden, must be cultivated, fertilized, and monitored frequently, or it can die. Motivation is perishable under the hot sun of excuses. Once you’ve developed your motivation, you must protect it from withering.
For those of you who have known me a long time, you know that my history of the desire for laziness is vast. I recall being unable, mentally more than physically, to run a solid 2 miles for my Army physical fitness test (APFT) for quite some time. So-called “mentors” would often counsel me after my failed attempts, only to say things like, “you know if you just run more you’ll pass it.” Oh, wow, that’s the spirit! I’m sold! Not.
The thing that completely overhauled my mindset is when I really spent time on my own motivation. The tipping point was during Officer Candidate School (OCS). I had a major epiphany regarding the fact that I was about to be a distinguished Army officer, the likes of whom I had admired my whole adult life.
Getting a good score on my APFT was not enough to motivate me independently; however, the thought of being an example to younger Soldiers DID. I ran, and I ran, and I ran some more. I got up at 4:30 am to run before work (which is typically unheard of for me). For the first time EVER, I ran 4 miles straight one morning. For me, that was HUGE. Shortly after the 4-mile surprise, I signed up for a half-marathon (13.1 miles) and ran the whole thing without stopping. Me, who WHINED about running 2 miles. I had successfully overcome my mental block to physical success. I even ran 3 more half-marathons in the following years.
After completing OCS, I continued to use the “lead by example” mentality to fuel my motivation to eat well and to remain physically fit. But then I left the military a few years later. My motivation had to be watered and fed, because it was withering a little.
During my time out of the military, my motivations became more selfish. I became a mom, and I refused to be held hostage by “baby weight.” I later decided that I wanted to be an example of health and fitness as a registered dietitian nutritionist. I thought that maybe my credibility would be enhanced if I clearly embodied a physique of fitness.
Eventually, although the “lead by example” mentality has never left me, I have added some other powerful garden tools to the mix. The current miracle grow fertilizer that is sprinkled on my motivational garden, so-to-speak, is that I want to be STRONG. I also crave that feeling of being done with a killer workout – you know, that sweaty, accomplished, beastly feeling. The only way to feel that way and to get those muscles is to do the work. So I do. Not as often as I should, but I do it frequently. I feel better, which makes me want to do it more.
My story may not look like yours. But I hope that you find some bits and pieces of inspiration to tend to your own motivational garden. Learn what motivates you by paying attention to how you respond to things. Silly little inspirational quotes work for me, despite the fact that I know they are cheesy. So what. Regarding fitness, find activities that you actually enjoy. When you find movements that make your body feel alive, and feel strong, you may just create the craving to keep doing them.
Let me know what keeps your motivation garden alive and well!
xoxo – Casey