Motivation: Success is the new Carrot

Friday, February 19, 2010

Today I got a request from a reporter to send my tips on how I stay motivated to exercise.  For example, do I put my exercise clothes out the night before (I do) or buy enough sports bras so I have enough to last from wash to wash (I do that too).  But as I thought about it, I realized that the most important thing I have ever done to motivate myself to stick with exercise, is to divorce exercise from the expectation of weight loss, and learn to exercise in a way that lets me enjoy consistent success.

When I was younger, I engaged in a lot of intense exercise hoping to become thin.  I tried lots of things from Karate to working with a personal trainer to belly dancing all trying to lose weight.  I'd go out too hard, exercise too much too fast, not lose any weight, get hurt and give up on the whole thing.  This pattern repeated over and over.

But about ten years ago, I decided to exercise just for the sake of exercise.  And I decided to concentrate on doing only what my body really felt ready to do.  Then once I succeeded at that level, I bumped things up a little bit and exercised a little bit harder the next week.  That's it.  That's my magic formula.

But here's what's important about that magic formula.  It allowed me to succeed every week.  Since I didn't make an unrealistic expectation of weight loss a part of the formula, that didn't cause disappointment.  And since I worked out at a level that was appropriate for me, I could do it every week and not get hurt.  Heck, I even started to enjoy it.

And nothing breeds success like success.  Since I was feeling good about my workouts, I couldn't wait to do them the next week.  And since I had figured out how to win, I couldn't wait to help other people "win" too.  That's why I became a teacher.  Now exercise is something I truly love.  I can't wait to put on some fun and interesting music, gather my posse together and shake my groove thing.

It's not rocket science.  But it got me through 5Ks, 10Ks, sprint triathlons, half marathons and even one marathon.  It just works!

Hope you'll think about giving this magic formula a try!  And if you do, let me know how it's going!

The Fat Chick