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What to do when you have lost the motivation
We all have distractions. Some, like the pandemic, are a massive one for all us and can be demotivating. Others can demand our attention, and some simply provide excuses to slip into old habits or to procrastinate.
A friend had recently started on an exercise program I designed for him. But after 3 weeks he surprised me by saying that he had lost the motivation to do his morning exercises. I wasn't immediately sure how to help, but we worked it out together to get him started again.
He hadn't been exercising regularly so I'd suggested a light set of daily exercises. He needed to get back into the habit of mobilising his body again and feeling the pleasure of movement. He also had a painful knee injury, so we needed to explore which exercises he was able to do without aggravating it.
Despite realistic expectations, he quit
On a recent call he simply said: "I've lost the motivation". This was a dead-stop, which surprised me.
It's not uncommon, and in my experience it most often happens when people maintain unrealistic expectations.
They may agree with realistic expectations before commencing an exercise program. But they hold their unrealistic expectations in the back of their mind and then start using them to measure their "progress".
It might be weight loss, or it might be overall fitness or rehabilitation of a weak joint - none of these things happens quickly.
But my buddy had realistic expectations, and that's why I was surprised when his motivation evaporated.
We discussed ways to kick things off again. Our plan worked, and he started back on the program - with great success.
The five-minute countdown ...
I decided to ask my friend Sean Nicholas at Transformed Man about his experience with motivation.
He told me how he'd had similar experiences himself. Who better to suggest how to get going again!
Here is what Sean suggested:
Eventually you will get bored just watching the timer - Sean Nicholas
Add one exercise at a time
Even if you stand and cannot get going initially, eventually you will get bored with merely standing and watching the timer and doing nothing - wasting your time - and you will start.
Once you start, you will very likely begin straight away next time.
When you are doing the five minutes, let yourself feel a well-deserved sense of satisfaction.
Then, use the momentum of this feeling of satisfaction to add your second favourite exercise into the mix. Extend the time a little and run through your newly chosen exercise.
Now you are doing 2 exercises each time - perhaps jumping-jacks and a plank.
When you feel the pleasure of doing two exercises add another.
Eventually, you will be achieving the set of exercises and investing about 10 minutes a day to getting your body moving.
Congratulations, you have started exercising and have a small program which keeps you motivated.
Now you have a foundation to add more
Movement is a great thing, and you'll feel the difference if you've not been active.
Exercise stimulates your brain, and it activates a "mind-body mapping" - neuromuscular activation. Boosting the connection between your mind and body binds together my essential tenets of exercise for living longer better:
Once you've formed the habit of exercise, whatever it may be, then you have a foundation to add other elements from the list above. And should you get stuck or demotivated don’t be harsh on yourself, just give yourself a day and then kick-off the countdown routine.
I hope this countdown technique helps kick start you, and my thanks to Sean.
I'd love to hear how you have overcome any lack of motivation - please comment below.
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Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building fitness training which lowers my age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter