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Moving Target

December 6, 2010

This time around I say it will be different. I won’t get discouraged or off track. I’ll keep my focus. I’ll dig deep for the strength and energy on days where it doesn’t come easy. This time, I’ll reach my goal.

I’ve said this before restarting my workout habit SO. MANY. TIMES. And it generally ends the same – somewhere along the line one or ten of fifty excuses later and I’m out of shape and haven’t worked out in a few weeks, feeling lazy, weak, and ashamed. This isn’t the real me – I’m a healthy, driven person, with no excuse to not make fitness a priority in my life. When I’m exercising regularly, EVERYTHING is better. So how do I lose motivation so easily?

I’m going on my 8th straight week of working out no less than three times a week, and most weeks I’ve fit 4 or 5 workouts in. I feel encouraged and like I’ve hit my stride – could I really be at that point where this is becoming a habit? This is possibly the second longest stretch of consistent working out that I’ve done since having Skyler. But the longest stretch was basically the first half of 2009, so I’ve got a ways to go to match that one. I’m even extra proud that I got sick for a few days one week and that was the week I still got three workouts in. Normally getting sick is a sure way to derail. But something does feel different this time, like it’s been easier to stay motivated. Why is that?

I read a feature article in one of Ronnie’s fitness magazines that profiled a girl who had always been fairly active in the gym doing standard cardio machine workouts and light weightlifting, but completely changed her philosophy after having a baby and starting her quest to get rid of the baby weight. She started lifting weight to get stronger – actually lifting heavy and doing legitimate strength training, rather than her usual light-weights-more-reps-so-I-don’t-get-bulky routine. She got in the best shape of her life, and it wasn’t gross body-builder or figure competition shape – just strong, lean and fit. But since her goals were to get stronger and continue to challenge her physical abilities, it kept her going and motivated. She went far past her pre-baby weight and figure.

I’ve never challenged my own strength and endurance – well, not never – I did a marathon and a couple half marathons, but the training for those was just to survive the distance. I’ve always ran or done workout videos or light weightlifting to chip away at the soft stuff and hope I look better in a swimsuit next year or fit into some jeans better. All my workouts were finished with the thought well, I know I must be some tiny thousandth of an inch skinnier than I was yesterday. Really, it came down to pure vanity. Which I think is the pitfall of this kind of motivation. No one ever recognizes when they look “good enough” or are in their “best shape.” It’s so hard to see in yourself in a mirror, and it’s so hard to see progress. We want immediate gratification, fuel to keep going, evidence that this hard work is paying off. Watching your body change is not something that happens quickly enough to provide that kind of ongoing motivation. So of course I fall off the wagon – the effort doesn’t go with the reward, and that wistful image of my future fit self always remains that dream of something just out of reach.

This time around my main focus has been on getting stronger and faster. Inspired by that article about a fellow mother, and influenced by Ronnie and his CrossFit-style workouts, I’ve been exercising differently. No videos, unless I just want to throw in a change of pace on the weekends now and then. No treadmill runs or outdoor jogs focused on covering a distance – they all involve some sort of sprints or goal to finish in less time than before. Each week or two I try to increase the weights I am lifting, and it’s working! I’ve never done bicep curl reps with more than 10 pounds, and I’m up to 15 now. I’ve doubled the weight I used to do on most tricep workouts. And this is just in 7 weeks! I get to set goals and exceed them in a matter of days sometimes, if not days, only a couple weeks before the next milestone is met. I hate the idea of missing a workout because it means that much longer before I can add more weight to the barbell, or worse, regress and have to spend longer on a weight I already mastered. It’s so much more fulfilling than looking in the mirror every day after sweating for an hour and not being able to see one bit of difference.

So I hope this time, the motivation is here to stay. There is no limit to how strong I can get, so there should be no excuses. This time.

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