Every morning when I wake up at 4:45 am my first thought is: “I cannot go to the gym today. I have to come home and take a nap.”
Every morning. I’m able to recognize it and start laughing when these thoughts pop up – even as I go take a shower, then eat breakfast, then put on my makeup – the dialogue continues: “I just can’t do it today. I’m too tired. I’m too busy. I’ve got too much going on. I really need to come home and nap.”
It doesn’t matter how early I go to bed – even when I’m sleeping 7 hours a night – I don’t think I’ll ever wake up at 4:45 am with a big smile on my face ready to embrace the day. After I fully wake up and drive to work and get my day started, those thoughts totally disappear. Usually by the time I get to the gym, my mind is in a totally different space. But sometimes it’s not. Sometimes I just don’t wanna do anything all day long but come home and hibernate. And watch Law & Order re-runs on Netflix.
That’s why when I saw this posted on Pauline Nordin’s Facebook page, I liked the hell out of it:
“Scenario: you feel your body isn’t cooperating and it zaps all your energy. Last thing you want is to go work out.
Solution: here is when you practice dedication. Take down the ambitions of a super workout. Instead, just get to the gym. Do a really crappy workout, don’t try to outperform yourself just for today. For once, do your gym time. The importance is to keep the habit up, the rhythm of just going even when you’re not 100% on. This is what people miss. It’s not about burning calories, it’s about building psychological momentum.”
Hell. yes. This makes so much sense, and in hindsight, I’ve totally done this before. I mean, this wouldn’t work out well if I lowered my standards all the time -and if I were constantly ‘fighting’ my body each time it was time to hit the gym, I’d take a look at a few other things in my life (my Hashimoto’s, how much sleep I’m getting, my food intake, etc.). But this is such spot on advice.
See, motivation is such a tricky thing. It fluctuates and changes, and if I rely on the motivation I had last week, it’s not guaranteed to carry me through this week. In fact, I just read this awesome article by James Clear that pretty much echoes what I’ve been realizing lately. It’s as much about the process of achieving your goal, as it is about the goal itself. Sure, it’s inspiring and motivating to look at pictures of bikini pros like Amanda Latona; it helps me visualize what the sum of all my little efforts will (hopefully) look like. But after a while of admiring pictures of the pro’s on Instagram my mind will start to wander, and it’s hard not to compare myself to their progress. My goal of competing in February starts to seem impossible, implausible, unrealistic. I start losing the vision. To come back to center, I have to just focus on my system and the tiny steps that it’s going to take to ultimately reach that goal. For today, I am going to the gym at 4 pm to work shoulders (because it’s what I committed to when I laid out my gym schedule on Sunday). For today, I’m going to have faith in the process and believe that if I stay consistent, I will succeed in the long run. For today, even if I do a shitty job at the gym, I’ve stayed true to my schedule and this process and I at least succeeded at building that “psychological momentum”.
If you have a second, check out Pauline Nordin at her website. She’s a total badass. She’s not your standard likable fitness guru. She knows she’s hardcore and has a giant ego and doesn’t hide it. Maybe that’s another reason I like this quote from her so much. It comforts me to know that she has to cope with also being a fallible human with “off days”.