I belong to a few fitness groups on Facebook, and every so often some version of this question pops up: “How do you stay motivated to work out? I feel really motivated for about a week, then I lose steam and stop going to the gym.”
Here’s my answer.
I rarely feel pumped to go to the gym. I rarely have steam. I’m busy, and I could use more sleep, and the couch or bed almost always sounds better than working out. Yet I consistently make it to the gym six days a week. How?
I look at going to the gym like going to work.
But who really wants to go to work? Even if you like your job, staying home always sounds better. How does that get me to the gym?
My job is my responsibility. Even when I don’t want to work, I need to because I rely on my income and my coworkers rely on me to contribute to the team.
I look at my health the same way. Exercising is part of maintaining my health. Even when I don’t want to exercise, I do it because being healthy is important for me, my family and society. If I’m not healthy, I feel bad. If I’m not healthy, I can’t be a productive member of my household and do the jobs my family counts on me to do. If I’m not healthy, I use a lot of health care and I am a burden on society.
Is this making sense?
Thankfully, going to work turns out all right most days because I like my job. In much the same way, I’m usually happy I went to the gym because I feel better about myself when I’m done.
Much like work, every day at the gym isn’t enjoyable and fruitful. Some days it’s a struggle to reach the end of a workout. Some days I don’t work as hard. Some days I’m just puttering around trying to look busy. But the important thing is I showed up.
Finally, I allow myself sick days and vacation days from the gym. I don’t have a “no days off” philosophy. I rest every week. If I’m actually sick (or injured), I don’t work out. And when I go on vacation with my husband, I don’t think about exercising. As with work, my vacation and sick days are limited in number, so I use them carefully.
When I think about all these things, there’s usually no question whether I should go to the gym. It’s something I feel like I must do as planned for my day to be complete. Maybe it’s because of my personality type. I’m an ISTJ – the “duty filler” – which means I follow through with things I plan and am willing to put a large amount of energy into any task I see as important to fulfilling a goal. I know thinking about going to the gym like going to work isn’t the best way to for everyone to approach exercise, but maybe this will speak to someone out there who is like me. I hope it does!
What brings you to the gym every day?
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