How to combat motivation slumps

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In my last blog post (written months ago) I discussed my struggle with staying motivated and how I simply felt burnt out.  Since then I have taken several steps to work myself out of that slump.  At this time of the year a lot of people decide to throw in the towel and “start fresh” in the new year.  New year new you right?  Maybe this is true for those who are truly, internally motivated to change but perhaps not for those who are externally pressured to “get fit”.  Or maybe you are someone like me who was in love with the grind but lost that spark somewhere along the way.  Wherever you may be in your journey, below is a list of things to consider as you work to revive that love for the grind:

 

1. Reevaluate your priorities

Working out has been a numero uno priority for me for years and this year it finally hit me that I needed to prioritize other things in my life aside from the gym.  I still kept working out as a top priority, just not number one.  Perhaps you have other things going on in your life that are more important to you right now and the gym may need to get stood up an extra night or two.  And that’s okay!  Being realistic with your priorities can at least help you justify why your gym visits have slowed down.  Maybe you’re not motivated to go to the gym because you just simply don’t want to be at the gym!  You’d rather be helping your best friend get ready for her wedding, or working an extra couple of hours for that raise.  Whatever it is, just be honest with your priorities and own it.  When getting fit is truly a top priority you’ll make the time and you’ll make the visits worth it.

2. Switch up your routine

Having the same lifting routine, using the same cardio machines, and even going to the same gym can get boring.  I had been doing the same lifting split for months and just simply got bored.  I decided to actually write down my new split and plan to change it every 4 weeks.  This kept some structure in my routine (which I need) but it was a new structure and knowing that I was going to switch it in 4 weeks gave me that sense of deadline like “hey next month you may not be doing kettlebell swings so you better swing the shit out of that kettlebell”.  Maybe (definitely) I am the only person who thinks that way.  Either way, even just writing down my plan gave me a sense of direction and goal which motivated me to follow through.

3. Ditch the cardio machines

Maybe you are one of those people that loves cardio machines and props to you if you are but I honestly get bored AF most of the time.  I’ll still do the stairmaster every once in a while but the thought of getting on the treadmill, bike, or elliptical… snooze city.  Here is a list of ways that I have been getting in my cardio that doesn’t involve a machine:

-Real stairs: Pick up 25lb plates and go up and down the stairs at your gym a few times.  If your gym doesn’t have stairs use a step and do a few rounds of step ups

-Sleds: Throw a couple of plates on a sled and give that baby a push in between your lifting sets.  This is by far  one of the quickest ways to get your heart rate up fast.

-Bodyweight HIIT circuit: You can literally make up your own circuit and just go hard for 30-60 seconds and rest for 30-60 seconds.  An example would be burpees for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds, box jump 30 second, rest 30 seconds. 20 mins of HIIT is a quick and effective way to burn dem cals.

-Battle ropes- Pick these up and slam them on the ground a few times, feel the burn and repeat.

…Jump rope, boxing, supersets, medicine ball slams, swimming, tire flips.  You get the gist.

 

4. Try a new gym or activity

In addition to switching up my lifting split I also switched back to my old gym.  You’d be surprised at how much just a change of scenery can make a difference.  And if it’s just the whole idea of a gym that makes you want to puke, try a yoga or tabata class with a friend, go for a hike, try something new that’s active!

 

5. Give your body a rest

Maybe you feel unmotivated because you are just as exhausted physically as you are mentally.  Sometimes you just need to take a step back.  You’re not going to *lose all of the gains* if you take a little gym vacation.  You may be surprised with how your body responds to rest.  Even if you get a little fluffy after some time off, that time off may be just what you need to reset and refuel that energy.

If you have struggled in the past with staying motivated, please share in the comments below what steps you took to gain your motivation back!

 

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Finding balance: Where I am at

Balance

After competing in two bodybuilding shows last year I set a goal for myself to hang up the heels for a while (most likely indefinitely) and focus on finding a healthy balance in my life.  For those who aren’t a regular follower, I have been a bit more active with blog posting and Instagram lately, particularly with the “fitstagram” posts.  I have been a bit more active for two reasons. The first reason is to motivate.  More people have been asking me for workout advice or healthy meal ideas and while I am no PT I love to share whatever I can!  The gram or my blog are both great ways for me to keep track of my recipes and have reference points to share with others or to even revisit myself!  The second reason is to hold myself accountable.  If I have a certain “fitness” goal in mind it is often helpful for me to share my journey with the public (aka like my mom and 3 friends).  So aside from this larger goal of *balance*, I recently set a mini goal for myself to cut down for an upcoming fitness workshop and photo-shoot + my trip to Vegas where Mr. Olympia is hosted, but I have found myself slowly losing motivation.

I want to look dope AF at this workshop and in Vegas where I will be surrounded by some of the most well known athletes in the industry, but at what point will I just be happy with where my body is at?  I have come a very long way this year when it comes to self image/ self love/ balance/ whatever people want to call it these days but it’s weeks like these that I realize I am not quite there yet and that this isn’t just a situation where I am going to wake up one day and be like “Fuck yes I will never have a negative thought about my body ever again”.  Lately I’ve just felt tired.  Tired physically.  Tired mentally.  My 5am lifts have turned into 9am lifts, or no lifts.  My daily cardio has significantly dropped (side note I don’t need to be doing a ton of cardio I just used to really enjoy doing it).  And my “diet” is starting to feel like a diet and well, I am just tired of feeling like I am always on a diet.  For anyone who has ever tracked macros before, aka “flexible dieting”, you’ll realize that once you know the science it is always ingrained in your head even when you try not to track.  Can’t a girl just get a healthy acai bowl for breakfast which is filled with superfoods and micronutrients and not worry about the fact that half of her suggested carb intake for the day will be used up?  Maybe it is the heat, or maybe it is the fact that I haven’t started my new job yet and my usual routine is off, but right now my motivation is in hideout.  I know if I were to just throw in the towel, stop working out, and eat like shit I would feel 100x worse after about two days so that is not going to happen.  However, this lifestyle is tricky and the motivation isn’t always there for me.  Hoping once I get back to my regular routine this week I will feel refreshed but in the meantime I would love to hear if other people trying to live the healthy grind have went through this same type of funk, and how they decided to handle it 🙂

Time is not the problem

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And neither is money. Prioritization is the problem.  I always hear people blame time and money for their unhealthy habits and I am here to tell you that you CAN find time for the gym and you CAN eat healthy on a tight budget, it’s just not your priority.  People often like to use time and money as an excuse to feel better about their decisions.  This pertains to any goal in life, not just fitness.  Would you ever starve your puppy because you didn’t have time or money to feed him/her?  Yes I went there.  But you get the point.  If you have a health goal, or any goal that is truly important to you,  I promise you you will find time.  When I tell people that I workout at 5am they always tell me they could never do it because they are not a morning person.  Well let me tell you that neither am I.  In fact, I have to set my alarm 30 minutes early so that I can press snooze 3 times until I forcibly roll out of bed.  I then proceed to take pre-workout, aka a shot of caffeine magic, and it is not until the magic kicks in that I feel like a human.  I do this because my work hours are unpredictable and getting my work done is also a priority so in order to make sure I tackle both, I choose to workout in the morning.  I am not saying that working out at 5am is something that anyone else needs to do.  My point is that there are 24 hours in the day and a lot of ways to get your workout in.  Even if it’s a 20 minute at home exercise video.  Find whatever works for YOU.  People are always looking for the “quick fix” when it comes to getting in shape and the reality is you actually have to put in the work.  Make some sacrifices.  No “quick fix” is maintainable. All the skinny teas, 10 day detoxes etc may give you a temporary “weight” loss which will probably consist mostly of water but keep putting the money you don’t have for your healthy diet towards quick fixes instead of nutritious foods ;).  Okay so that was harsh but it just drives me crazy when people continue to buy into these marketing gimmicks.  Once you start taking the time to plan ahead, you’ll realize that healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive.

This goes back to prioritization.  Unless I am doing a major stock up, I typically spend anywhere from 60-80 a week on groceries which consist of lean protein, veggies, fruits, whole grains etc and this covers my meals for a full week.  So lets take $80/7.  That’s $11.42 a day for ALL meals.  I typically eat 8 small/medium sized meals a day so that’s $1.37 per meal.  So just to put this into a bit more context… I’ve spent more money on 1 salad from a local shop downtown for lunch (shout out Roche Bros salad bar) than I spend on a full day of food that I pack.  Now I am not someone that buys everything all organic/gluten free etc which I realize can be more expensive but I would bet that one would still get their bang for their buck if they simply take a few extra minutes to plan ahead and be smart with their grocery shopping.  This is, if it’s a priority.  So moral of the story here… be honest with your priorities.  Did you really not have time for that workout or was it just not a priority at the time?  And let’s be clear I am not lecturing people to go get their workouts in and go grocery shopping, just start being honest with what’s truly important to you at the time.  Try this: “No, I didn’t get my workout in this morning because I prioritized margaritas with friends last night and I am too hungover”(said by yours truly). But hey, nights out with friends are important too and at least I am being honest with what’s important.  If I have money for a night out at the bar, I have money for egg whites and chicken.  So before you decide you don’t have enough money or time for something, think about if time and money are the real problem or if you simply don’t want it enough.  I wanted to end this post on a lighter note but someone needs to tell it how it is, especially in a society where for some reason people are afraid to be honest, and instead make up excuses upon excuses, justify their decisions and just wait for things to be handed to them.  With a topic I feel so strongly about, you will always get tough love from me.

Setting Goals and Sticking to Them

October Goals

It is really easy to say that you are going to finish something, or start something, but actually following through with it?  Now that can be the hard part.  I can’t tell you how many times over the past year that I have said  “I need to read more books” yet I have not completed one single book since last summer.  I decided this month that I was going to write down a few of my goals somewhere instead of just talking about them.  Perhaps this approach will keep me more accountable.  We are one week into the month and so far I think this approach has worked for me.  I took my first lunch break out of the office yesterday in probably a month, maybe two.  My food expenses have gone down.  I have spent more of my free time reading (and writing) than staring at a TV screen.  Most importantly, I haven’t been afraid to say “yes”.  I am guilty of being a creature of habit and have fallen into a routine that I would like to break out of a bit.  I may not be able to complete all of these goals this month, but I now have this reminder in my phone to give me that extra push.

 

Whether your goals are short-term, long-term, fitness related or not, I challenge you to write your goals down somewhere.  Even if you have just one small goal, write it down.  If you already have a system that works for you, I challenge you to share it with me!  I would love to hear how others are conquering their goals 🙂

 

What Defines a “Healthy” Lifestyle?

New England Harvest salad with tofu and a side Tropi-kale smoothie!

New England Harvest salad with tofu and a side Tropi-kale smoothie!

This is a question that can be asked to 100 people and you will probably get 100 different responses.  I suspect the definition of “healthy” is unique to each individual.  It took me a while but I have come to the realization that living a healthy lifestyle goes far beyond making smart food choices and consistently working out.  If you are eating healthy, working out, but miserable in the process, then there is probably something missing.  I woke up this morning and put my boots on for the first time since April which signaled that summer is officially over.  I reflected back on my summer and have to admit that I spent way too many nights staying in on the couch and not nearly enough nights out with my friends.  I figured it was a lot easier for me to just stay in than go out and get asked why I am not drinking or be questioned about my food choices.  I avoided restaurants, bars, cookouts, you name it.  All because I felt that I could not be in control of my diet.  Crazy right?  Looking back, I recognize that I did not need to completely avoid these situations.  In fact, if I can’t reach my fitness goals without isolating myself from the people who matter to me the most, and things I enjoy, then am I really living a “healthy” lifestyle?  For me, the key to living a healthy lifestyle is simply balance.  Perhaps “simply” is not the right word as this is something I am still working towards.  The mental aspect is just as important as the physical.  Eating healthy and working out makes me a happy person.  What also makes me a happy person is sharing laughs and making memories with my friends and family.  There are only 24 hours in a day and I want to make sure I am not wasting them washing tupperware containers and watching reruns of the Kardashians.  Now, I love cooking my own food and typically enjoy a home cooked meal over anything but it is nice to finally realize that I can enjoy going out to lunch or dinner every once in a while and still stay on track with my diet goals.  For some reason it took me a really long time to figure this out.  Moral of the story; a healthy body plus a healthy mind equals a happy me!  Now time for me to go plan my next Boloco trip for that New England Harvest salad that I got for lunch the other day with my co-worker.

How I Turned Pro- Gym Selfie

Okay, so I used to be that person who would scroll through my news feed and roll my eyes any time that I saw a gym check in.

First official gym selfie before building season

First official gym selfie before building season

I thought to myself, “congratulations you are at the gym no one cares”.  I would think the same thing when I saw a picture on Instagram of someone sweating after a tough workout.  But really, what is the point of social media if you aren’t sharing with others the things that you enjoy?  How is checking in at the gym any different from checking in at a restaurant or bar?  How is posting a picture of yourself in the gym any different from posting a picture of yourself in the car?  I’ve come to believe that gym selfies, or selfies in general, are not so much attention seeking but rather a representation of confidence and pride.  Now maybe there are a couple of instances that are an exception here, but I would say very few.  For someone like me who is working towards a fitness goal, taking pictures is really helpful in determining progress and if I want to share my experience along the way then why shouldn’t I?  I mean, why do we really follow people on social media anyways if we aren’t interested in what is going on with their life?  I posted my first “”gym selfie” the other week, not because I was fishing for likes, but because I was excited about my journey thus far and like to keep myself accountable.  Looking back now, I think all of my eye rolls were just my way of trying to cover my own lack of self-confidence.  I also realize that not everything needs to be documented on social media and that it is important to live in the moment. If a selfie here and there makes that much of an impact on your day than perhaps you need to reevaluate your priorities.  SELFIE-ON PEOPLE!