Getting Going and Mantaining Motivation

4 weeks

People are motivated by different desires such as to be fit, lose weight, make friends, and finish a particular distance/race. Most people’s motivation is not fueled from just one source either, it’s a combination of various desires.

Underlying these desires are the core needs of people everywhere: to survive, be accepted/loved, and accomplish goals. These basic needs are what you are tapping into to keep your fire going.

The more of these underlying needs that are wound up in your motivation, the stronger your motivation will be and the less likely you are to become burned out.

You have to be able to stick to the program long enough to feel your needs being met. This usually takes about four weeks of consistent exercising especially if the need is survival AKA weight loss and other health benefits.

People who have never exercised or stuck to an exercise program start with goals, which are too big and they get discouraged when their progress is slow. Or they become exhausted and can’t keep up the program. Goals must be achievable and measurable to help maintain motivation. Start small, starting is better than not starting, so even if your goal is to run one lap at the elementary school without stopping it is better than doing nothing. You can’t start too small.

Find a way to track your progress. There are a million apps for smart phones that will help track fitness. You can also get a notebook and track your speed, distance, and weight. Watching these numbers change is encouraging.

Let go of any slip-ups. If you miss a day, don’t just give up. If you miss two days, so what, get back on the wagon. If you have a hard day, that’s okay everyone does. Guilt is not very motivating, progress and change are, build your foundation on progress.

Don’t compete with other people, only with yourself. That way you always win. Focus on doing better than you did the week before. This is critical in the beginning. If you start looking around the gym at the people who have been exercising for years, you will get discouraged. Let it go and be ok with where you are starting because at least you are starting.

Hang out with people who are supportive of your exercise program, your cheering squad. Stay away from Debbie downers. Your internal critic is enough to deal with, you shouldn’t have to deal with external critics too.

Exercising is hard. You have to find the fun in it one way or another. There are lots of ways to add to the experience such as finding a partner in crime, listening to music, playing games with yourself, and rewarding yourself when you have completed your weekly goal. Try to not make rewards sugary treats, instead go for a nice pair of socks, new songs from iTunes, or a sweatband with a funny saying.

Make exercising as convenient as possible. Eliminate excuses of being too tired or not having time. Twenty minutes is better than zero. There are a bunch of exercise videos for free online. Youtube has a bunch as well. It’s too cold/hot outside, stay in and do around of kick boxing or yoga. Too tired, get up a little earlier and go to bed at a reasonable hour. You have to make exercising a priority.

If you can do these things and stick to the program for four weeks, you will start to see changes in your body and your attitude. Exercising will become a habit and easier to maintain. Your desires for weight loss, fitness, friends, and running a marathon get closer. Your needs for survival, acceptance/love, and success/accomplishment begin to get satisfied.

Exercise becomes the best addiction you have ever had.



I went to the Bodies art exhibit over the weekend, which is human bodies with the skin removed exposing the muscles and bones. The bodies have been donated for this purpose and preserved through a process called polymer preservation.

Throughout the exhibit there were walls covered with information on the nervous system, circulatory system, muscles, ligaments, and bones. In addition to this information, there was information about how to keep your body healthy and strong. They address topics such as nutrition, physical activity, and lifelong learning.

At the conclusion, was a map of the world, which highlighted where centurions (people who have lived to 100 years of age and over) have lived. I was surprised that there was a large group in the United States in California. The other large groups were in Japan and China.

One of the things it talked about was how we age more slowly if we remain active not just physically, but mentally and sexually too. It’s a careful balance. You cannot neglect one area of your body and expect to get good results in the end. Endurance athletes often say it’s mind over matter, but it’s not you have to train both because without one the other does not continue.

Being able to see all of the muscles and bones interconnected was fascinating and mesmerizing. As an athlete who pushes their body and mind people what it can do, seeing the nuts and bolts of how it all happens gave me a new appreciation for the feats of endurance completed by others and myself.

The bodies were very beautiful and amazing most were posed in the middle of complex physical activities. I would encourage anyone to go to this or a similar exhibit if they have the opportunity. It’s appropriate for all ages, if handled in the right way. If your child has a fear of skeletons or the walking dead, probably isn’t such a good idea :0)

Run More and Enjoy Life


I often find myself wondering why more people don’t run. The benefits of running far outnumber the difficulty of getting started and maintaining a consistent routine.

I admit that my enthusiasm for running can get a little annoying. I can talk about running for days and not get bored. I love to learn about it and learn ways to help others to enjoy it.

I know not everyone wants to take running to the level I have, but there are some many more benefits to running other than the physical fitness, which is the reason most people begin running. Running is an excellent way to improve physical fitness don’t get me wrong, but it is so much more.

I really believe that this world would be a better place overall and that each individual life would be improved if everyone ran five miles three days a week or even three miles four days a week.

Running increases energy, relieves stress, and stabilizes your mood. It is cheaper than therapy, alcohol, and painkillers and doesn’t have all the negative consequences. You don’t have to have a lot of money to get started just a pair of good shoes. There is no gym membership required and you don’t have to have friends to get started, but you’re likely to gain some the longer you stick to running.

It may seem strange that expending energy would increase it on the back end, but it does. You may be tired when you first start, but your body will adjust the way it burns the food you eat and begin supplying you with more energy.

Physical activity is one of the best ways to relieve stress. It increases the feel good endorphins in your body. It is meditation in motion, your mind lets go of whatever was stressing you out and you can just focus on the physical movement of your body and really be present. Often you will have an “aha” moment during a run as the solution to a problem reveals itself as you put one foot in front of another.

Exercise also reduces depression and anxiety thereby stabilizing your mood and allowing your body to sleep better, and better sleep is always a good thing especially if you are dealing with stressful situations on a daily basis.

You will increase your support system through running as well. Although running is an individual sport for the most part, runners are social just like any other group. They love to hang out, get to know other people, and support one another through encouragement and advice. There is always room for one more on the road or the trail. Even if you start running, as I did alone and not knowing any other runners, if you run enough races or do a relay you will meet other runners.

Many people say they are too busy and too stressed to take thirty to forty-five minutes three to four days a week to get in a run, but if you make time for it, the world becomes a better place for you and those around you.

Run off the Weight

I recognize not all runners run just for the pure enjoyment of running. My oldest son does not enjoy running. In fact, he has told me many times he pretty much hates running. He runs because it’s a social event and, in the beginning, he ran because of the physical benefits and new found muscle definition.  For the last two years, he has run on his high school cross country team. They start training in the summer and then the season ends in October. Since the end of last season, he has found other ways, Ultimate Frisbee and weight training, to stay fit. He enjoys these much more than running.

He said he kind of feels bad that he doesn’t like running because he knows how much I love it. Honestly, if he doesn’t love running (or even like it), that’s all right with me. What I want for him is to find ways to stay healthy and fit. I want him to learn the habits of eating well and exercising on a regular basis. Because the older you get, the harder it is to develop and stick to healthy habits.

Many people are drawn to running because they want to look better and lose weight. This is excellent! Of course, there will be hurdles and roadblocks as there are in all aspects of life. You may even have some regression at times.

Some runners begin with high expectations on pace and the way they should feel. When they don’t see the expected improvement in their pace or the way they feel they stop. They give up thinking, “This will never work for me. Why did I even think I could do this?” Hurdle one: lack of improvement. The best counter to this is to have a training program. Start small and work your way up. Have short-term and long-term goals. Register for a 5k in eight weeks and then find a training program. Start with walking nine minutes and running one. For thirty-minute sessions three to four times a week. Lower your walk time and increase the run time by one minute each week. You want your plan to be challenging, but not too much. If it’s too hard then you are likely to get tired, take a few days off, and then a few more…

Seeing the number on the scale drop is pretty motivating, but what if it’s holding steady? Hurdle two: Lack of weight loss. Look at your diet and not just your activity level. Weight must be fought on both fronts. You don’t need to make drastic changes to your diet. First, it’s good to know what you are actually putting in. Keep a food diary for a week or two. Next, make the choice to make one meal a day healthier. Start small and work your way up. In order to lose weight, you have to take in fewer calories than you are burning. Your body will burn the sugar it has stored in your muscles before burning fat. Reducing your sugar/carbohydrate intake and increasing your calories burned each day will lead to weight loss.  

Everyone has bad days, even elite runners who have coaches and nutrition specialists following them around all day have bad days. Sometimes we have bad weeks. Roadblock number one: Negative thoughts/mental state. You can’t let a bad workout or a bad week throw you off. Things will get better. They always do. Keep telling yourself, what goes down must come up. Surround yourself with positive people and put positive affirmations on your mirror in the morning or on the back of your door. Even on the edge of your computer screen. I have inspirational quotes on post-it notes on my wall next to my computer. Whenever, I see one I like, I put it up there. You have to let bad days go, forget about them, and move forward. Every day is a new day.

Some of us get into an “I don’t give a F***,” (sorry about the F, but you know what I’m talking about) mode and just eat everything and don’t go to the gym. Of course, we feel bad later.. sometimes. So, what if I miss a day or two? Roadblock number two: Regression. Let it go. Get back out there. Find a gym partner who can hold you accountable when you are hitting that wall. Every day is a new day. I don’t care if it’s a week, get back out there.

Staying committed to exercising and eating well is hard. I have had my fair share of false starts, changing sports, gym partners, and video workouts. I’ve been 40 pounds overweight. It’s hard to lose. It took me a little over a year! The most important thing is to not give up, set small goals, and then bigger ones. And always celebrate your success.