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So if the gym won’t give me Madonna’s body, why should I go?

Prior to Lockdown I was a member of a very nice gym. It had a sauna, Jacuzzi, classes, the lot. But I used to alternate between hammering it four times a week and total indolence.

I don’t know why, as there were few threatening body beautifuls in fancy headphones. In fact, there were more oldies, considerably bigger than me. So I didn’t have a fear of going to the gym because I felt fat-shamed.

And it’s not that I’m unfit and feared I may collapse. At the time, I walked my dog (God rest her soul!) for 30 minutes a day and I could easily do 25 minutes fast walking on the running machine at the steepest incline without breaking a sweat (well, I did a bit).

Neither was it that I didn’t have anyone to go with. My partner, also at the time, although he’s still alive, was very fit and encouraged me to go. But when I did it was with a burning resentment as if he was forcing me to become teetotal or go vegan.

You can start a workout with murderous intentions and finish with puppy dog brain

Yes, of course, that resentment disappeared once I’d got through the cardio because that’s when the dopamine had kicked in and tricked me into thinking that I actually enjoyed going to the gym.

So why was there a disconnect between my capabilities and my desire to go? The word is motivation. I didn’t actually believe that the gym was going to change my life, or give me Madonna’s body. The effort surpassed the results.

So how does one get beyond that?

Some suggest going to classes as a way of keeping on track. I tried Zumba, but thought it was cheesy. I did circuit training and thought I was going to vomit. I did one and a half hours of yoga which bored me rigid and got me thinking of all the more interesting things I could be doing rather than the ‘down dog’. Even my dog did fewer downdogs in that space of time.

Pilates was an option because I’d done it before and know it works. I just couldn’t see myself doing it four times a week until I died having not achieved Madonna’s body. So what was the point?

The point is self-discipline, which is a concept everyone is aware of, but few truly understand. The most successful people in life exert discipline on a daily basis and probably go to the gym, too, or at least when it’s open. It is vital to every living being and without it, the world around us would be chaos.

So to kick-start that self-discipline we need to be reminded of reasons to go to the gym or, in fact, to do any form of exercise. We may live longer, we may look better, we may feel mentally stronger, we may sleep better. Maybe we should be substituting the word ‘may’ for ‘will’.

Stress-relief, is another benefit. You can enter a gym or start an online workout with murderous intentions and leave with puppy dog brain. Yes, it really is that effective.

Are you self motivated?

Psychologist Scott Geller is at the forefront of research on self-motivation, and he explains that there are three questions you can use to determine whether you (or someone in your life) is self-motivated:

  1. Can you do it?
  2. Will it work?
  3. Is it worth it?

If you answered “yes” to each question, you are likely self-motivated.

12 Tips and Skills to Motivate Yourself Today

Is Self-Motivation a Skill and Can It Be Developed Through Training?

The Skills You Need website lists six vital skills that form the foundation of self-motivation, and they are all skills that you can develop through sustained effort:

  1. Setting high but realistic goals (e.g., SMART goals)
  2. Taking the right level of risk
  3. Constantly seeking feedback to figure out how to improve
  4. Being committed to personal and/or organisational goals and going the extra mile to achieve them
  5. Actively seeking out opportunities and seizing them when they occur
  6. Being able to deal with setbacks and continue to pursue your goals despite obstacles (i.e., resilience)
  7. Continue learning and acquiring knowledge (i.e., develop a love of learning)
  8. Spend time with motivated, enthusiastic, and supportive people
  9. Cultivate a positive mindset and build your optimism and resilience
  10. Identify your strengths and weaknesses, and work on them
  11. Avoid procrastination and work on your time management skills
  12. Get help when you need it, and be willing to help others succeed.
Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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