On Motivation

There seems to be some unwritten rules in the online fitness and healthy living community.  Rules like: make sure to post sweaty smiling photos of yourself. Always talk about how you absolutely thrash yourself with each and every training session that you do. Only ever post about the good things – like how you wake up each and every day just dying to get a workout in.

I say to hell with those rules.

It is about time people started posting some real life hard realities about living a healthy lifestyle.  Like about how it is completely common to just lose all motivation to do anything related at all to exercise and sport.

That was (is?) me. My name is Donna and I have been looking for my fitness motivation – I seem to have left it somewhere, have you seen it?


According to Psychology Today, motivation is:

“…literally the desire to do things. It’s the difference between waking up before dawn to pound the pavement and lazing around the house all day. It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining goals—and research shows you can influence your own levels of motivation and self-control. So figure out what you want, power through the pain period, and start being who you want to be.”

I don’t like EVERYTHING about this quote. I don’t believe in “power through the pain”. I don’t think you need to wake up before dawn to go running to show (to yourself? to others?) that you are motivated.  But I do think that we can influence our levels of motivation and self control. I do think that motivation is a key factor in achieving goals. And I did lose my motivation – my desire – when I came for the training that is needed for doing triathlon.

Why Did My Motivation Get Up And Go?

I think my motivation up and left after I ended my triathlon season last year. Basically, managing an injury sapped all desire from me to train. And by injury – I do not mean managing the day to day limits that come with living with EDS and CMT. No, I mean my knee injury.

From December 2012 until August 2013 I spent every day worrying about my knee, checking in on my knee to see how my training was impacting it, wondering if I should even be training at all given what the doctor had recommended in January. The day in day out worry about my knee made me just not want to do anything fitness-wise that would hurt my knee. I avoided the bike. I avoided running. I didn’t want to live with the feeling of “something not right” inside my knee anymore.

For nearly six months I (subconsciously) binned the notion of a structured training plan. If motivation is knowing what you want to do and then going out and doing it, I was doing kind of the opposite – I knew what I didn’t want (pain and injury) and then just avoided what would exacerbate my problems. Simple and it seems like a no-brainer right?

Maybe… Nominally I still had goals.  I wanted to ride up Tabayesco on training camp.  I wanted to enter the 2014 triathlon season with a strong base. I wanted to improve my bike power, to improve my running times. Yes, I had goals, but WITHOUT MY HEART being in those goals, the goals were just WORDS. So my motivation went walking.

What of 2014?

Recognising that my heart was not into some of my goals was the first step I think in finding my motivation. I took a step back, especially helped by the many long haul flights I recently had for work which allowed me a lot of time to think about what I really wanted for this year when I comes to me and triathlon.

I decided that I wanted two things.

1. I want to race in some races where I can meet some of the people who inspire me (old friends and new friends alike).
2. I want to focus on the fun of being able to race, and get back to the simple joy of crossing the finish line, without the worry that plagued me in 2013.

I decided that I need to rewrite the rules for myself. To get rid of the chatter in my life, to turn off the noise around me that says “it is all about go hard or go home.”  I decided that I had to look deep inside, to do it my way, and to stay happy in body and spirit – or else none of it, none of my plans, would happen.

With this clear, I finally hit the publish button on my 2014 race schedule on Friday. I felt light when I did. Excited. Happy.

Be True To Your Heart

It is not unusual to lose motivation. Just because people don’t talk about it online doesn’t mean that countless others are not going through the same thing – it just means that no one talks about it. It is perfectly normal to lose the desire to do something, especially when your heart is not truly in it. It is perfectly fine to take a step back and say “this is not what I want” and to forge your own path. And to throw away some goals (and friendships and things) that don’t provide the support and positivity that you need to achieve.

Make sure whatever your goal, it truly represents what is in your heart. Because only then will you smile.

When I was on the trainer yesterday I was listening to the Strong Body Whole Heart podcast. My friend Kelly is involved in an amazing project which really echoes a lot of what I have been thinking and going through the past months. To learn more you can check out the Strong Body Whole Heart website.

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