If you’re not motivated to work out, what should you do?
Motivation is wonderful, and powerful. When you have it, everything is easier. (Go to the gym today? Oh hell yes, I’m ready! Make good food choices? Please, that’s no problem with motivation firmly by my side.)
When you don’t have motivation, you desperately want to get it back. (Go to the gym to work out? But I don’t feel like it; I didn’t want to yesterday and I sure as hell don’t want to today. And pass on my favorite dessert? Hey, piss off, buddy. I’m going to plant my face in a big ass bowl of ice cream, and motivation isn’t here to stop me.)
I’ve stated that motivation is perishable. It’s not limitless and doesn’t appear on demand. When the last thing you want to do is work out you can’t flip a motivation-switch so your “I don’t want to” becomes “I’m unstoppable!” Yes, there are things we can do to ignite motivation and stoke the fire (click that motivation is perishable link for more information), but it’s not always there, no matter what we do.
When you’re not motivated to work out, there’s really only one solution: Show up anyway, and do the work.
Call it discipline. Call it being a relentless badass. Call it a built-in habit. Call it whatever you want, but sometimes that’s what has to be done.
Granted, there are days I don’t feel like doing a workout, so I won’t; it’s OK to skip one occasionally (sometimes we need rest more than a workout, or a relaxing walk instead of a challenging weight lifting session), but that’s not a sensible option to do week after week. You don’t want skipping every workout to be your go-to action when you just don’t feel like it.
You must learn to distinguish the crucial difference between your body needing a break and your mind wanting a break. In the wonderful world of strength training, this isn’t something most beginner strength trainees can do accurately, so they need to show up and do something most often. But advanced strength trainees should be skilled at listening to their body and knowing the difference.
If you find yourself getting into a stretch of making less-than-ideal choices when it comes to food or working out, it’s OK. Don’t beat yourself up over it. But start doing something productive, even if the motivation isn’t there.
The next time you don’t feel motivated to work out: Show up, and do something. It doesn’t have to be the best workout of your life, you don’t necessarily have to beat your previous workout’s performance, but just do something to get you started.
And if you find yourself on a prolonged stretch of making less than ideal food choices, start making better choices right now, with your next meal.
One final note on being motivated to work out that you shouldn’t overlook: There’s a good chance that taking action will lead to motivation. Show up, and do something. Oftentimes the doing is what fuels the motivation to continue.
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