How do you find your motivation to exercise?
After my knee injury I seriously reflected on my exercise schedule. I had broken myself through inconsistent off skates training. An exercise regime led by my own notions of what exercise should look like and backed with a helpful handful of “I’m young and invulnerable”. My knee injury was likely largely caused by my long distance running converse, lack of stretching and the demands on the knee joint courtesy of roller derby.
After spending time off skates because of knee injury, battling my own feeling of failure and the realisation that I could get injured, it would be easy to assume that I was super motivated to exercise. This would be an incorrect assumption. My motivation was to get back on skates. The two tied nicely together for some time. I worked out and rehabilitated for that glorious day when I could strap skates back onto my feet and play a game of roller derby.
In hindsight this really wasn’t a great motivation to exercise. What happened after my first game was that exercising became an obligation. And my personality is one that will do obligatory tasks until they fall out of habit or become inconvenient (nullifying all future obligation). That makes it sound as if once I was skating I stopped exercising, which isn’t true. But neither did I continue to exercise with the same sense of purpose. My gym routines became shorter. My morning rehab became a chore and I started to slip into bad habits of not stretching.
What I thought had been my motivation to exercise had been a false flag. I was not motivated to exercise I was motivated to skate again.
Shortly after this I started feeling guilty about not getting to the gym, and worrying about the possibility of re-injuring myself. I also knew that a move would be happening at some point away from the Lincolnshire Bombers Roller Girls, where my fitness levels were enough to perform, to the unknown and obviously intense London Rollergirls.
All these reasons caused me to pinball between super motivated to go to the gym and detesting the very thought of exercise. One week I would hit the gym 4 times and the next two not at all.
Insert further guilt here.
It was then that I started to reflect on why I paid for a gym every month. Why did these things motivate me to exercise sometimes but not consistently? And how was I going to overcome the exercise version of yoyo dieting?
Since moving I’ve been pretty consistent with both my feelings towards the gym and my regularity in going. My motivation to exercise appears not to be fixed on any milestone. Roller derby, rehab, or even being skinny are not what I’m thinking about when I’m in the gym.
For me the key to my motivation and the answer to these questions was discovering that I enjoy the benefits of exercise to my everyday life. I understand the benefits of exercise to my daily life. I pushed passed the “I can’t be bothered to go to the gym”, or maybe “I’m not feeling it tonight”, into making it part of my routine. There is still fluidity in the nights I go to the gym. Or the intensity of the workout. But my emotions towards going to the gym no longer peak and trough. I have found a happy medium, and I’m already noticing the benefits.
Another thing that really helped me to find my motivation to exercise were James Clear’s tips on his blog. These are super useful anti-procrasination, pro-gym and creative tips. They were very easily applied to my life. It was also super reassuring to see I was already practiscing some of them.