When it comes to fitness and motivation, everyone struggles at times, even your personal trainer. If you think the only struggle with motivation will be when you first start out, you are unfortunately wrong. And that is the position I found myself in recently. Read on to see how I overcame these struggles and have succeeded.
Looking at my current situation, this has been the first time since I started exercising 10 years ago that I really was in a rut. I have had times where my motivation was lacking, but never to the point where I just didn’t want to work out and even skipped going to the gym entirely for one week. What got me to this point was my personal fitness goals getting derailed this year. My plan for the last 3 years was to progress in powerlifting to the point that this year I could qualify for USAPL Raw Nationals (the largest and most recognized/credible national powerlifting competition in the US) and compete there in October. Unfortunately, not just one, but two significant injuries have made me postpone that goal until further notice. With a badly strained rotator cuff in my right shoulder and prepatellar bursitis in my left knee, there was only a handful of things I could even do in the gym. If I wanted to work out, it meant I was doing back/bicep/tricep workouts 3-4 days a week along with my rehabilitation work. Usually in a situation like this I would then change my focus to more physique based training goals versus strength, but therein lies the final issue. I have a hiatal hernia that prevents me from dieting long term, so going through a cutting/weight loss phase was out of the picture as well! All of this piling together meant that when it came to exercise, other than health, I really did not have any goals to work towards. And for me, I have a severe lack of motivation without goals I can aspire for. Of course I want to be healthy, but the fact is I already am, so working out was just to maintain that health, not to work towards it. So to me exercise had now become a nuisance, something I had to do, and that wasn’t fun.
So what did I do?
For the first month my motivation was down in the dumps. As mentioned above, I even skipped a whole week of working out at one point. To get out of this, I can pinpoint 5 main things I did to get me back on track.
- Wrote up a detailed 4 week workout program so I actually had something planned out.
- Started going to the actual gym more versus lifting at home (I have a great home gym setup) because once I was at the gym there is nothing else distracting me. At home, I found that after about 20-30 minutes, it was way too easy to just cut the workout short and go upstairs and watch TV.
- If I did work out at home, I asked my wife to make sure she worked out with me those days to keep me accountable. If I knew she was working out, I knew I would too.
- I found some other things outside of my fitness goals to put my time into. I started writing more and also got back into racing remote controlled cars. Both of these things gave me something to occupy my time and brain to keep me sane.
- I just did it. Even with those things listed above, I still did not have the same motivation I usually have, but to me it wasn’t an option to quit. I want to compete at USAPL Raw Nationals, and sitting on my butt was not going to get me there. What was going to get me there was working hard at the things I could, and being diligent in my rehab work to get the issues I had fixed.
So what is the outcome?
Well it is still a work in progress, but 3 months post injury I am happy to say at least 2 of the 3 issues I have are significantly better. The shoulder is definitely not 100%, but I can now bench press full strength pain free. And per the advice from my previous coach Hani Jazaryli, I tried taking in some apple cider vinegar each morning for my hiatal hernia symptoms, and so far so good. I am on the lowest calories without discomfort that I have been on since being diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, so hopefully that trend continues. As for the knee, well that’s still been a pain in the butt, but have recently switched gears and am trying a different approach for it’s rehab, so we will see how that goes.
So what have I learned?
If I am looking at what I did to overcome these issues, steps 1 through 4 (from above) were all things I knew I had to do. Make a plan, go to an actual gym versus trying to workout at home, have someone to workout with to keep me accountable, and find some others things that make me happy. Those were all things I recommend on a consistent basis to my clients, tried and true, nothing new.
Number 5 though is where the learning experience came in. And it is not something that anyone else can teach or control, it is all up to you. When it comes down to it, if you want to achieve something, you just have to do it. Up until now, that hasn’t been a phrase I have used enough, but after going through this myself, I now know that it was the most important part of the entire process. Steps 1 through 4 helped, but even if I didn’t find those things, to reach my goals I just had to do it. Whether that is for powerlifting, weight loss, or general health, if you have goals that you want or need to attain, sometimes you just need to dig deep and push through. There is going to be tough times and that is why so many people fail. The ones who have reached their goals are the ones who went to the gym even when it wasn’t convenient and said no to some tasty food even though it may spark some criticism from friends. They decided even during the tough times when motivation was lacking, they were still going to do it. Nike had it right, and I think the lesson I have learned here is not only valuable for my fitness goals, but also professional and relationship goals as well. Just do it