Need workout motivation?
Too tired to feel like working out, and thinking of waiting until you feel better to get going?
Here’s why that logic – which is a common and natural assumption – will work against you.
We can’t feel our way into behaving differently.
We behave our way into feeling differently.
Several weeks ago, Watertown member Kyle Lush posted an observation on Facebook:
“One of the things that never ceases to impress me about a good workout program like Barefoot is the improved mood/state of mind/mental clarity that I experience as a result of working out.
This week at work was really kicking my butt. It seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong with the project I was on, and I was feeling a lot of pressure and stress. Even taking short breaks and going home I couldn’t clear my mind no matter what I did, and I even had some trouble sleeping because of it. Now I forgot my workout clothes at home and worked late, missing Wednesdays workout. Today, I wrapped up the project I was on but still could not “wind down.” I felt completely beat and my mind was still going 100 miles per hour.
I decided to go work out even though I wasn’t sure how it would go and felt like I had zero energy and would just crash. I started, and once I got moving it got easier, and just like what has happened many times before, as I started having to exert myself and really focus on the exercises, I forgot about everything else… I found myself in a 100% better mood, with a clear head; and left feeling great. I also feel like I will sleep like a baby tonight.
There have been lots of other instances where I’ve noticed this. Times I felt like I had low energy, or my mood wasn’t the greatest, and I’ve forced myself to go work out. Now some days are better than others as far as workout performance but I always feel better overall when I leave than when I walked in, even if I am completely physically exhausted. I have regretted not going to workouts but I have never regretted going in.
I know some people scoff at the price of a well-designed, well-structured workout program like Barefoot, but even if this was the only benefit, which it obviously is not, it would be well worth it in my eyes.”
Kyle made an important observation here.
We often think of our emotional state as the cause of, rather than the effect of, our actions and environment.
Somehow our culture is pervaded with the idea that we can feel our way into behaving differently. As if once you feel good and have lots of energy and a positive mood, then you can go work out or do something active and engaging.
The truth is, we usually can’t. Most of the stuff in social media about motivation is bullshit.
Instead, we behave our way into feeling differently.
The behavior drives emotional state and the energy levels that come with it.
As Kyle knows, behavior and environment are more cause than effect.
The hard part then, and where many people slip up, is in seeing past immediate emotional state and knowing that you can alter the way you feel by altering what you do.
Another client expressed this a bit differently, while she was going through a hectic exam schedule in grad school and still made her way into the gym. The physical movement and shift in focus helped her feel grounded and energized. It was a crucial part of how she did well in school.
She said, “People ask me how I find the time to work out in the middle of finals. All I can think is, ‘How do you not?’ This is important to me. It’s how I stay physically and mentally healthy. It’s how I get things done.”
Most of us go into some workouts feelings sluggish, unmotivated, and like maybe we should put them off until we feel better. Yet, those feelings are fickle and transient, and if you push past them and do the workout, we leave in a new state of mind.
It’s an important skill, really, in many domains in life.
Need to feel differently? First, you must act differently.
It almost never works the other way around.