How to Stay Motivated

Or the alternate title, How I Stay Motivated. 

Motivation is something that I know a lot of people struggle with, and is something that can affect every part of your life. I'm lucky in that I am naturally motivated - I am extremely competitive with myself and as such, I'm always trying to do better than I've done before. This can be a double-edged sword though, especially when you couple being so motivated with being a perfectionist, however that's another blog post for a different day. 

While I am usually internally motivated, there are days that I struggle like anyone else. My alarm goes off at 5am and I'm like, "seriousl?!?!" Today I'm going to talk about how I stay motivated in regards to fitness. And I'm not talking about fitness entire pizza in my mouth, okay?

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Prior to having my son back in 2003, I was the laziest person on Earth. Seriously. When I was in basic training I made up a running group during our morning workouts called the "z" group...there were supposed to only be an "a", "b", and "c" group, however I was that lazy. In basic training. Where they yell at you to not be lazy, yet I was still lazy and hardly shuffled, let alone ran. 

Then I ended up gaining tons of weight while pregnant with Justin, partially due to being on bed rest for most of the last trimester, but mostly due to eating tons of mashed potatoes, Christmas cookies, and McDonalds...super sized. Once I had Justin and realized the weight wasn't just going to fall off I knew it was time to kick my butt into gear. So I started working out a little bit here and there and lost some weight. Then I started running and the weight really came off and I ended up smaller than I was pre-Justin. Before I knew it, I was working out 5 days a week before work and I was a PTL in the Air Force (physical training leader).

I can say with confidence that I have been working out regularly since 2003. There have been times over the years where I've gotten really sick (mono, I'm looking at you), got lazy after a race, or when I was an egg donor, where I did not work out regularly. There have even been months at a time where I don't think I did anything active (mono...worst illness I've had). And when those times hit, I always have to work hard to get my motivation back. So here are my top tips on how to stay motivated. 

The first thing I recommend, and this is probably my most important motivator personally, is to follow a schedule. I am always following a workout schedule of some sort. Whether it's something I've found online or one that I've made up myself, having a schedule to follow keeps me on track and keeps me focused. I'm never floundering around wondering what I should do for a workout - it's already laid out for me. I usually stick to plans that are 8-12 weeks long and then switch it up. For example, right now I am wrapping up a round of running and Chalean Extreme and on Monday I'm starting a running and P90X hybrid

(I am not a Beachbody coach - I just like to use their workouts). 

I've recently shared a picture of my plan for P90X/running and will share more as I do more plans. My biggest recommendation is to find a plan that has a mix of cardio, strength, and core, and just do it. It doesn't have to be 6 times a week either - start off with 3 days a week and do a plan for a month. Once you're done with that, find another one and before you know it, you'll be a workout fiend! #itstheendorphins

My next tip is to sign up for races! Try to sign up for a few races a year (obviously this only applies if you're a runner/biker). Knowing I have a race to run is a huge motivator and keeps me on task when I just want to hit my snooze in the morning on a Sunday when I'm scheduled to run 10 miles and I just don't wanna. I get it, I totally do. However when you know you have a race to run and you also do my next recommendation, which is to set goals, you'll feel like you can't hit the snooze and have to get up. It's crazy, but true. 

As mentioned, my next tip for staying motivated is to set goals. I'm not just talking weight loss goals here people; those are fine, but it's the goals other than weight loss that keep me moving when I feel the motivation waning. I am constantly setting goals to lift more weight, run faster, run longer, to feel comfortable while wearing shorts while running (one of my New Year resolutions...). Once you hit that goal, make a new one! The best thing about working out is you can always find something you can do better or something that's new. 

The best advice I can give you for those weight loss goals is to set small goals and reward yourself as you meet them. Sure, you may have 50 pounds to lose overall, but 50 pounds can seem like an insurmountable task. So try to lose 5. Once you lose those 5 reward yourself with something (not food). Then set your next goal and chip away at them until you meet your ultimate goal. This is the only way I can lose weight. I personally like to buy more gear...in purple...

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One more note on weight loss goals - your weight will naturally fluctuate up and down and all around. Try not to get frustrated and give up when you gain 2 pounds one week. One way I stay on track when this happens is my next recommendation...

Take pictures and track your measurements! You may be working your booty off for 3 months and only see a 6 pound loss, but then you look at the pictures you took and the measurements you tracked and see that it's so much more than that number on the scale. I have experienced this personally and I've had that stabbing gut check when I see the scale has increased. When that happens I'll usually take a picture and compare it to my beginning progress shot and then I always feel better. 

Now you say, but Jamie, I have kids and they won't let me exercise. Make them come with you. I force my children to workout with me on the regular. Jules may not have a say in the matter (and she actually enjoys sitting in the jogging stroller), but Justin sometimes takes some stern "because I said so" when I tell him we're going out for a run/skate. Regardless of how much he might complain I know it's worth it in the end because not only am I getting him to move his butt, but I'm being a good example by moving mine. 

My next recommendation for keeping yourself motivated is to track everything. I track the weights I use, how long I exercise, how far/fast I run, my weight, my measurements, etc. Having it all down somewhere and knowing I will look back and want to see an improvement or maintenance is extremely motivating for me. I actually log onto myfitnesspal every single day and track my exercise and have an almost 100 day streak going. 

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Finally, my last recommendation is if your body is really screaming at you and saying "noooooooo, stay in bed/don't workout today/why are you doing this to me", it's okay to take that day off. When you don't listen to your body that's usually when you end up injured from overuse. Which I know from experience after dealing with IT band issues and piriformis issues and this weird hip thing that happened during one half marathon training cycle that I'm still not sure what happened. All of those injuries happened because I wasn't training smart and I wasn't listening to my body. Take time off, use rest days to rest, foam roll, stretch, veg on the couch, take ice baths after long runs, drink beer after long runs...#justsaying

And that's it! What do you do to keep yourself motivated? Let me know if you try any of my tips out!