Motivation to Move

Thank you all bunches for your comments on the Woman’s Day article! (And a hearty welcome to WD readers!) I’ve enjoyed my 15 minutes in the spotlight, but now, it’s back to business.

One of the questions I get asked fairly frequently is how I found the motivation to exercise. It seems there are a whole lot of folks who can’t seem to get in the right groove for it. I was one of those people, in the not so distant past. Nowadays, if I miss a couple of days of exercise, I feel grumpy.

So, how did I get from there to here?

1. I started small. My initial goal was 20-30 minutes, 3-4 days per week. I had two exercises: walking on the treadmill and “plus-sized” yoga. Over a couple of months, I built up my stamina and endurance and then increased my goals to 30 minutes, minimum, 6 days per week, but I frequently went an hour or longer. After I had built a habit of that, I moved into strength training. Now, I average 45-60 minutes, 6 days per week, alternating cardio and strength training. Not superstar status, but I give it my best effort.

2. I shifted my focus to the health benefits instead of the weight loss. This effectively took the scale out of the picture. I have to exercise for better health, regardless of what the scale says. I’m doing this for my body, mind, and soul–not some external driver. (Although I do appreciate that nifty little side-benefit of weight maintenance.)

3. I found the fun in exercise. I make up games and challenges for myself. I write stories in my head while I’m walking. I pretend 60 Minutes has hidden cameras filming me, attempting to catch me slacking off or–gasp!–using bad form. Nothing is off limits–okay, maybe naked biking–as I attempt to keep myself entertained. I like the physical impact of exercise, but I love the mental freedom of it just as much.

4. I discovered my secret momentum builder, which I use to outwit my fiercest competitor (That’d be ME!):

august exercise calendar

The month, so far

This is my exercise tracker. You’ll pardon the messiness, I hope; I hadn’t planned for it to be on public display. It’s sad to say that this is one of the neater months. :) (Alternately, I use the top line of my daily to-do list to record my exercise. It’s effective, but I have to flip pages to see the patterns. I like seeing it all at once. Except December, which has been known to have a few gaps.) As you can see, it’s not particularly detailed. It has only the minutes exercised and the type of exercise–ST for strength training, W for walking, etc. If I don’t go full-speed for a workout, I’ll add the word “lite” to that day’s entry.

Whenever I think about blowing off exercise for the day, I think about the big empty white space that will be left on my tracker. If there’s not a legitimate reason to bypass the planned activity, my limited competitive nature gets me up and moving. I might not get in a full workout on those days, but I’ll at least get my 30 minute minimum in. The mo-mo relationship(momentum+motivation) is a truly beautiful thing.

5. Speaking of legitimate reasons to miss exercising…I don’t allow myself many. Simply put, I come first. Exercise helps me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I need it like I need air, water, and the occasional bite of chocolate. While other things do come up from time to time, I can count on both hands and a couple of toes the number of planned exercise days I’ve missed in three years. And be assured that on those days I do miss, the reasons gets listed on the exercise tracker. Not to imply any sort of shame (life happens, after all), but to identify any patterns, should they develop. With a gym nearby and a plentitude of home exercise options, there’s ample opportunity for me to fit something in every day.

6. Hmm, numbers 4 & 5 took so long that I forgot number 6. Oh well. If I think of it again, I’ll have a ready-made blog topic, won’t I?

So for what it’s worth, that’s how I found my motivation to exercise and moved it from something to be endured to being a major component of my well-being.

But enough about me. I’m tired of doing the heavy lifting around here. (Hah! A little exercise humor!) What motivates YOU to exercise?


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14 thoughts on “Motivation to Move

  1. Great insights into the mind of a person who is very motivated to exercise. You consistently give many of us new ideas and no excuses, so thanks for that! You’re really selling it!

    Naked biking; yuck. Now, just what do you think is stuck in my head?

  2. So I am bumming that I don’t have my copy of the magazine yet:( Maybe it will come today.

    My best motivation right now is that I work out most days with a partner. Mostly my husband. One day with my mom (and a trainer). The evolution to working out with hubby was very gradual but has been great since he would go longer than me and that got me going longer too. I also do much better with group classes at my gym than alone. Hmmm – kinda seems like my motivation comes from other people:(

  3. What you said. Plus
    I am in the weight loss stage of doing this and good exercise 6/7 days really helps.
    I love the halo effect. You know. The great boost of self confidence and having done something good for yourself that you get after you’ve gone the distance.

  4. This is a great post, Cammy! What motivates me to exercise? Becoming stronger- I’m absolutely ADDICTED to proving to myself that I CAN do what I never thought I could.

  5. Thank you for the list. :) That was very insightful. I’m a very competitive sort, so tracking my minutes and calories on the WiiFit has been my big motivation. Another HUGE motivation for me was how much plus size yoga makes me feel good. It’s an amazing, awesome way to start the day – and I’m always happy to have the benefits of increased flexibility. 😉

  6. This is SUPER helpful for me, Cammy… especially the way you do the tracker and note reasons for skipped days (without judgements). I think seeing the patterns would be very helpful for me.

    While I’m here, I just want to thank you for the time you take making comments on many of the blogs I read. You always say supportive, kind and yet thought provoking things. In my book, you’re a seven-star commenter… and that’s on a 1-5 scale ;>}

  7. Thanks for the detailed tips on your exercise “how to”. I like the idea of a dedicated calendar as a way of monitoring exercise. The computer program that I use for food is great for monitoring intake and giving visual feedback on calories and nutrients but sorely lacks as a method of feedback for exercise. Sure it can estimate calories, but I don’t need to know how many calories that I burned – just that I did something for X number of minutes. And, a big blank spot would be pretty glaring.

  8. Great tips on motivation. I, too, use a calendar but I put little smiley face stickers on the days when I get at least 30 minutes of cardio. Then I don’t want to miss a day because I want to see those smiley faces. I also make little deals with myself when I don’t want to work out. I say “okay, just 10 minutes is all you have to do and then you can be done”. And after 10 minutes I’m usually feeling pretty good so I say “okay, you just have to do 10 more and then you can quit” and then I’m usually good for the rest of the 30 minutes or more!

  9. Great post. I think I first started exercising to boost weight loss. After a while it just made me food good mentally as well and I would eat better after exercising because I didn’t want that effort to be wasted.

    I don’t think about not exercising or look for excuses to get out of it. I actually like it and I adore how I feel when it is over.

    Everything is easier when you are not over weight so it just keeps getting more fun.

  10. I’m laughing at myself right now as I think back to the not so many weeks ago when my daughter drug me out for a walk–I hated it, but I did it, and the next day and the next….hating every single step, forcing myself to to go on with teensy-tiny goals. Get to the mail box, now that crack in the road….OMG I have to get back home… But I had to do it, I had to get heilthier and lose some fluff. Than I found a gym…again, forcing myself to go…proving to my husband that IT WAS NOT as passing fancy as in the past. Now, 6-8 weeks later am a total exercise junkie! Like you, if I don’t go I get incredibly irritable–just ask my family.

    Not sure what motivated me other than the absloute need to get healthier and fit and a very pushy daughter! I had become a sloth from a almost 9 months of unemployment to another 3 months off for surgery just after returning to work . Everything was hard! Just getting to the bathroom. Now, I have to work on NOT OVER DOING! Am trying diligently to find balance in getting my works outs in now that I am back to work almost full time and not over doing…

    I don’t know people, the thought of exercising horrified me before…way too much effort. Now, I love it, gotta have it!! Cammy’s inspiration and words of encouragement have helped too. Good to have some outside support that’s not too close to home! I close with one of my daily motivators:
    No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path. —Buddha

    And walk I do!!!

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