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Discipline or Motivation, Which Comes First?

I don’t know about you but as the days got darker and shorter I have really struggled to find motivation to exercise and I love exercise! I have been observing the way the Winter has been effecting me, the slowing down, the less energy and I am actually surprised and how I have not reacted to this and forced myself to be a perpetual Summer. Instead I have found myself falling into the flow of Winter and enjoying it.

I have noticed this past year that I am much kinder on myself in general, I don’t know if that is age, wisdom or just a love for self that was never there before but I don’t run as fast or as far if I don’t feel like it. I just appreciate getting out, feeling cold and then coming home and to the warmth, even on Christmas day.

When it comes to staying fit, I find motivation, especially at this time of year, can be fleeting. There are very, very few days when I actually wake up motivated to exercise. Maybe on a glorious early Summers morning when the sun is beaming down and the light dances on the water do I leap out of bed excited to run. Other than that there is an awful lot of procrastination. The amount of talking I do to a) convince myself that I don’t need to run, or b) I’ll go later, or c) it’s too cold and wet and most recently d) it’s too icy you might slip, is hilarious. So you could say that the motivation is often lacking.

That is why I have discipline. I heard once that “discipline eats motivation for breakfast”, and it’s true. If you have a weekly exercise routine, something that is not too much or too complicated that you couldn’t stick to it, you don’t need motivation, you just have to show up. Over the years I have figured out what feels good to me on certain days depending on when I have the children and what is demanded of me that day. It varies from weights in the gym with friends one day, to running outside solo the next, or walking with the family and now to my two rest days which I love! And the latest is going to an early morning yoga class which has been a glorious addition to my weekly routine.

That being said it can still be challenging to keep the discipline. To make it easier in the morning, I have my workout gear laid out in the bathroom before I go to bed and that habit is piggy backed onto cleaning teeth at bed time. So on waking the gear goes straight on. It’s not something else I have to think about and once the gym clothes are on it’s much easier to just throw myself out the door, leaving the mind chattering away thinking about how else to procrastinate. The motivation flows so easily once I get going, ten minutes into running and the energy is flowing.

When I am struggling to motivate I also remember how lucky I am to be able to move and exercise. I often repeat “ I am able to run” or “I am able to workout”, that gratitude soon gets me moving. Or I remember how much my body loves to move. I take my mind to the end of a session and relive those feel good times of walking out the gym having worked out and the rush of happy hormones that flow. “Why would I not want to feel like that again?”

Finally, I often contemplate why do I run. Do you ever wonder why you exercise? The answer for me is always simple – I want to live well. I want to live with out pain or discomfort in my body and to be full of vitality so I can enjoy life. I see running as self care. There is no magic pill we can take to keep us youthful, but if we put the hard work in today hopefully we reap the benefits years down the line. This time of year can bring a lot of pressure to get in shape after a slower festive period, but remember there is no quick way to fitness, so don’t rely on motivation to get you out the door in January, simply find a discipline you love to do, sew it into your week, do it as often you can and stay focused on the long term goal.

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