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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Motivation to Exercise

I tell my patients to go exercise most days for at least 30 minutes. But what's to keep you going?

As I practice what I preach to my patients, I exercise just about every day. And there are days when my motivation is lacking. Sometimes when the alarm goes off at 4:30 am, I just want to roll over and go back to sleep. And, were I to be completely honest, every so often that's what I do. But, 99% of the time, I get up and go.

My goals keep me on track. In the next two months, I have two triathlons, and I want to perform my best. If I miss a workout, I fear that may impact how ready I am for my races.

Yesterday morning, on the treadmill at the gym, five miles into an eight mile tempo run, with my heart racing and sweat dripping on the treadmill, I was tired out. I thought, I can end this at six miles.

What kept me going was thinking of my long-term goals -- I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon for 2010. To do that, I need to get faster, and hard workouts like this have made me a faster runner and a better athlete.

Somehow I got a second wind and finished off my 8 miles with a sense of true accomplishment.

Goals are important for keeping us on track. If I didn't have goals for myself, I don't think I'd be able to wake up early and exercise.

A goal can be as simple as wanting to finish a 5K race. Another great goal is having the stamina to keep up with active grandchildren.

Whatever it is, find a reason to get out the door and exercise.
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The MSILF said...
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The MSILF said...

Heh competitive goals would never work for me. But other stuff does. I used to HATE exercised, scarred by early gym class experiences. In my twenties, I started up and finally enjoyed it. But I had to have a totally different motivation because quite honestly, while you are totally awesome, I would never be able to give a shit if I could run X, Y, Z K or something. (I vaguely remembered failing all those mile-run tests and did sort of want to be able to do a five or six minute mile, but it wouldn't have been enough to really keep me going; it was more of an idle curiosity if I could do it.)

So what finally got me going? One was med skool - the evidence for the benefits were overwhelming and un-ignorable.

The other was much more personal, as a pretty raging feminist, I realized I needed a strong body. Not to look good (I weigh more than I did before exercising because of muscle) but to be strong, to feel strong myself, to feel safe and competent. The exercises more geared toward boxing and martial arts went much better for me than the dance type aerobics, which made me feel vaguely ridiculous. (Check out Katee Sackhoff, who plays an awesome female character, for inspiration. There are plenty of others.)

I guess my point is that what works for one person sure might not work for another and that sometimes you need to be creative about what might be motivating. Things like "health" or competitive goals wouldn't have moved me. But wanting to feel like I can kick ass? Sure.