“But I Don’t Wanna!”
“Not in the mood? Mood’s a thing for cattle and loveplay. Not fighting!” - Gurney Halleck, DUNE by Frank Herbert. You BETTER have read this.
I’m feelin’ terse today, so it’s going to be short and sweet…-ish! But there’s a reason for that and it’s because I think this one is an important idea that really must be internalized; I don’t want to dress it up with too much dross.
An oft-asked question I get is how I stay motivated. When you’re starting out, it’s hard to reach into yourself and pull out the mood inside to make you feel like you want to exercise. It’s a fickle thing. Sometimes it’s there and sometimes it isn't. This is a huge problem. Moods can stretch over days and put you in a state where you say “screw it” and fall off the wagon. This is why… I never motivated myself to exercise to begin with. Granted, when I was first starting all I was doing was going to be on time (really. That was a big thing to start doing -- regulating my sleep schedule. When I got use to that, the next thing was just going for a daily walk. I did nothing that I really had to dig down deep to do for sure).
What I did instead was to take the responsibility for my success away from a mood-based feeling and put it into something that brooks no argument: discipline. There’s just no way around it, y’all. If you want to get something done, if you really want to stick to something, there’s just no magical way to make it seem easy. You just f’in do it. No hemming. No hawing. Don’t wait until you feel good enough to do it.
It really irks me when people use motivation as a way to push themselves do something that really should be an imperative. It seems to be a way to hedge the bet that this time they’ll stick to it. When you rely on motivation and it inevitably evaporates and you end up failing, you have a fallback excuse for not doing something. Just couldn’t find the motivation. When you use discipline, you accept and acknowledge that whether or not you do something is really down to you.
One upshot is that if you use discipline for a long enough time, you start forming habits. That’s not to say that you become an automaton, forever able to execute an exercise without thinking or requiring discipline. Indeed, for stuff that you have to USE discipline for, you can backslide so quickly into bad habits it’ll make your head spin. But yes; a habit will form. Although, at least in my case, it arrived in a weird backwards way.
There seems to be two kinds of this habits. To frame this, let’s call a habit a kind of craving. Some people crave to exercise to get rid of jitters or to feel the good ache or to just scratch that exercise itch. It’s something they look forward to doing in order to feel good. My habit/craving is backward… I really still don’t want to exercise and have to force myself each time but I know that if I don’t, I’m going to feel gross. So for me it’s not something I’m looking forward to, it’s more like I’m trying to avoid feeling gross and lazy. Some people jones for exercise. I jones for not feeling sloth-y.
You (should) brush your teeth, make your bed, wash your dishes, clean your clothes whether or not you’re in the mood for it. It’s time to add “taking care of your fitness” to that.