In episode two of the Burn Pod Hannah talks with some of the BurnTheory ambassadors about motivation. Digging into why we lose motivation in the first place and some real world tips on how to get back on track when you slip up.
Today’s podcast is all about motivation. And we all know this very well. It’s usually the number 1 reason why we slip into bad habits or find it super tough to get into a consistent exercise routine.
We’ve all been there – we’re doing well and then something happens and we slip up with our exercise. We then find it SUPER difficult to get back into it – it’s like every fibre of our body is screaming out NOT to do your workout or to get moving, even though we know its important to do.
So in this episode, we want to jump on into why this happens, what you actually mean by motivation, and how to get back on track.
And we think its pretty timely considering the massive life changes and disruption to our usual routines that has come on in 2020 – for those of you listening to this podcast, this was recorded after Tasmanians came out of lockdown following COVID, and started getting their lives back into normal routines. We all know how much of an impact being stuck at home made – the fridge was right there, the wine rack was in easy reach, and then there was the couch. So many of our good healthy eating and exercise habits were put on ice for a bit, and then it has been pretty tough for us to get motivated and back into it.
So, Let’s dig into why we lose motivation in the first place.
And the key here is that for many of us, exercise isn’t really a natural part of our lives. Many of us have sedentary jobs, we are then running households, looking after and running around after kids, trying to have a social life. We. Are. Busy!
And therefore, exercise isn’t something that is natural and ‘fits into our world’ all that easily – it’s not like brushing our teeth, or finding time for a shower. It needs its own special focus and energy.
And it’s not just our ambassadors that say this, it’s most women we speak to (and us included)! My main reason for falling off the fitness and health bandwagon is busy-ness and time! And associated with this is the all too familiar excuses (or self-sabotage) of ‘too tired’, ‘start on Monday’ etc.
But before we dig in to the main reason behind our motivation failures, let’s look at some of the barriers to exercise:
- For many of us it may be because exercise is unfamiliar. We’re not all that used to being active and for lots of us, structured exercise is something we’ve never had to do before. Therefore when we look to bring exercise into an already super busy schedule, it often feels overwhelming. Having to rearrange our schedule to fit in this ‘burden’ can cause stress, anxiety and even resentfulness. And this then leads to us feeling and realising that we need to create major changes in how we live and schedule our time and it’s just sometimes too much
- Secondly, life is sedentary. Today’s world doesn’t require as much movement as it used to. We wake up, drive to work, sit at work, drive home and then sit on the couch. I even did a test with my apple watch and it was nearly impossible for me to get even 5000 steps in (and complete my move goal) each day if I went about a normal desk-job day. Without exercising in a class or making sure I went for a decent walk, I had to make a pretty major effort to get my steps up!
- Thirdly, exercise can be hard. It does take work and effort and we get sweaty and our muscles hurt and it’s tough to complete that extra push-up etcetera so it already has it’s own barrier to overcome. Now let’s add in the fact that you have to get through the discomfort for that great feeling on the other side, PLUS, the consequences of not doing exercise aren’t immediately apparent. It’s not like if you don’t get a night’s sleep you know about it straight away. With exercise if you miss a session or a week or a month, it’s not immediately apparent what the consequences are of this. It can take months and often years for there to be obvious consequences of this.
So as you can see, there’s a range of reasons that can get in the way of our motivation to exercise, but the key one here is the lack of time. We can work through most of the above, but it’s the time factor as busy real-world women, that’s the issue.
Self-sabotage and the expectations/time issue.
How do we work through or overcome as women, the time factor which is honestly the reason for 99% of us falling off the wagon.
Let’s dig in a little deeper into this time issue. And we’re going to own it. In 9 out of 10 cases, this is actually just self-sabotage rearing its ugly head, rather than an actual issue.
Self sabotage is when we actively or passively take steps to prevent ourselves from reaching our goals. For example, you have a goal of getting into a good routine and becoming fitter and stronger (and possibly losing a bit of unwanted fat too). Instead, you find excuses around time (or a subconsciously feeling a little pressed for time) and therefore don’t do your exercise session. It’s an incredibly frustrating cycle of behaviour that lowers our self-confidence and leaves us feeling stuck.
There could be a number of reasons why we are actually using our time excuse (and it’s not necessarily due to time) – and these could be things like:
- Fearing our success. We’ve worked so hard for something before (getting fit or losing some weight), only to have it become a stress on our lives and then we start to sabotage ourselves
- We feel we might fail and so want to place fault somewhere else (such as our busy schedules), or we feel uncomfortable that we aren’t fitter or healthier so blame our lack of time.
- Our expectations are possibly too high – for example, you expect to go from a sedentary lifestyle to working out 5 times a week and high intensity. Then at the first sign that this isn’t going to work, we sabotage ourselves.
- Or for many of us, we’ve tried and failed on a number of occasions (for a number of reasons), that we now just fear this is going to happen again, so instead of trying and seeing if we do succeed, sometimes it’s easier to let it fail from the get-go.
So how do you know if you’re actually self-sabotaging or lack of time on that particular day is a legitimate reason?
Ask yourself these questions when you’re failing or feeling stuck:
- Am I prioritising instant gratification?
- Am I avoiding what needs to be done?
- Am I not prioritising self care?
- Am I procrastinating?
- Am I focusing on self-defeating thoughts (such as ‘it’s going to hurt’, it’s not really going to matter if I miss this etc)
As you can see, motivation is deeper than just ‘I don’t have time’. It’s usually connected to a reason WHY we think this.
To start to understand the reason behind your lacking motivation, ask yourself, or even journal, why we think we don’t have time. Then keep asking why until you get to the root of the problem.
For example, the time excuse is my biggest excuse. (and I’m going to be totally transparent and honest here) – I often think ‘I don’t have time to exercise’ because my business is more important. Getting the work done for my business is the most important thing that day (even though i KNOW that exercising will help me work way more efficiently…)
So WHY is this my thought process?
Well, because my business is entirely reliant upon me. I am its success or failure.
Ok and here’s the crux of it – which even as I say it out loud sounds kinda stupid…
If I don’t do the work, the business could fail. My fear (which stems from a previous bad experience – check out Episode #1 our story for an insight into that) is that my business could fail if I’m not 100% always focused on it.
And that’s the crux of my issue and self-sabotage!
Crazy isn’t it?!
It can be quite confronting, but working out the deep reason why you make excuses or find not enough time in your life can really release this and open you up to start the journey towards moving that bootay.
But let’s get back to our time issue some more
Time issue is, as we discussed, often connected to a deeper self-sabotage reason. But it’s also a matter of lack or prioritising.
Ask yourself what priority you put on moving your body and doing this consistently? Be honest.
It’s likely it’s not really that high.
We prioritise everything else, even TV, over moving our body, even though we know we should put more time aside.
If we break it down, we all have 168 hours in a week. 56 are usually reserved for sleeping, 40 for work, 7 for travel, 7 for cooking and let’s say 3 for general household stuff and 5 for personal care such as showering. That leaves 50 hours a week for other things such as socialising, family time, adventure, couch time, AND exercise.
Moving our body for 3-4 hours each week (so for 30-40 minutes a day, or say 4 gym sessions a week) isn’t taking up much time when we look at it as a blank state.
So, how do we start to prioritise our exercise (once we’ve worked out the reasons behind our self-sabotage thoughts and behaviours), and make time in our lives?
Ways to help get back on (tips and tricks)
I can feel you gals rolling your eyes at this saying ‘yes we know this’, but have you actually taken the time to really understand where your time goes?
Planning and scheduling it in (writing it ideally and sticking this to the fridge so you see it), helps IMMENSELY!
Start by looking at your week as a blank slate. Work out your work time, your sleep time, your travel and personal care time, your family time, house chores time etc etc and find where those gaps are. Can you find a slot during your lunch break to get outside and take a walk or go to a class? Can you fit in 1 morning class or one afternoon class before heading home? Can Sat morning be a walk with the dog or the bub in a pram? That’s all it will take.
Go overboard with the detail here because the more detail, the more you’ll see how you can squeeze in 3-4 workouts or exercise sessions a week.
We suggest doing this on a Sunday each week. Use a couple of hours on a Sunday arvo to grab some groceries and work out a few dinners or lunches in advance. Sit down and look at your week ahead and plan out when you can get to those sessions.
And take the pressure off it having to be the same each week. I know consistency helps with routine, but often if we miss one session due to an unforeseen work meeting, we feel like we’ve failed and then the rest of the week is gone.
Always look for plan A and then have a plan B. Work around your busy life and find the slots to fit in the exercise, and before long you’ll be finding that it’s becoming part of your lifestyle and routine.
For those that are interested, check out the book 168 Hours by Laura Venderkam, which shows that with a little examination and prioritisation, you can find more time in your week for those things that didn’t feel like they fitted in before.
Attach positive associations with your movement
Instead of thinking of exercise as a chore that you HAVE to do, or focusing on the negatives of NOT doing exercise, such as berating yourself or saying something horrible like ‘urgh you’re so frumpy’ to yourself, try to put a positive spin on it.
Create an enjoyable event after a session, such as brunch with friends or even just a walking coffee each Saturday. Treating yourself to new exercise gear to kick start that motivation. Focusing on how strong you feel or how powerful you are whilst doing the workout instead of how much it sucks at the time, will help to change those brain receptors towards a positive when you think about exercise.
Other ways you can start finding that motivation are:
- Accepting the fact that moving our bodies is a part of life. Acknowledge that your lifestyle is more sedentary than it should be and find ways to build in more movement,
- Give exercise meaning rather than just a means to an end such as losing weight. When we focus on the end goal (which often is hard to get to so we fall off the wagon), we miss the positive association with movement. Focus on what exercise means to you right now. Attach a value to it that matters now, such as mental health, clearing your head, feeling those endorphins, feeling more confident, having time to yourself, being more efficient etc
And importantly, remember that you can choose your own path to exercise. You don’t have to start out running 5km each day, or lifting weights, or doing super hard core Cross fit classes. You don’t have to be a yogi with crop tops on at 6am. You don’t even ever need to work out at 6am. It’s up to you. You have the freedom to do whatever activities you like at times that suit your specific lifestyle, and you can mix this up when you feel like you need to.
Remember the keys to overcome motivation slumps are:
- Recognise the excuses you’re using currently
- Recognise if they are self-sabotage (usually) or legitimate (i.e. injury)
- Recognise the deep reason behind the self-sabotage and own it and work through it
- Schedule and organise your week and find times that work in with your world each week
- Determine the priority you place on moving that body, and add in any ‘treats’ to keep kick you off
- Attach a positive to moving your body and a current value
- Make those important to your decision making aware of your exercise plans and the importance this has for you.
Phew! That was a decent deep dive – how do you feel? Has this helped?
Sometimes all I need is just someone to tell me to get my butt moving and remind me of the importance of this, so I hope that we’ve been that someone for you!
As always, we are here to help kick start your motivation and keep you on your movement journey, so reach out with any questions of if you would like some additional support and guidance.
And until next time burn gals, have a fabbo week ahead!