I remember exactly where I was the first time I saw the movie Rocky.
My younger brother and I watched, mesmerized, as Sly Stallone drank raw eggs, chased chickens, and performed one arm push ups. By the time he boxed Apollo Creed in the final scene, we were standing and cheering as though we were at a live fight. (And using the couch cushions as heavy bags, which went over well with Mom.)
The next day I piled on gray sweatpants, a winter hat, and took off down the rural road we lived on for a run.
Within five minutes, I was completley gassed, had a stitch in my side, and wondered how anyone could run in sweatpants.
While my motivation on that run was short lived, Rocky was my introduction to the concept of motivation. The story and the music, cliche though it was, made me feel like I couldn’t sit still- like I had to go out and exercise - and also that I should take up boxing, which my mother shut down quickly.
By the time I played high school sports, we used warm up tapes filled with Pat Benatar, Europe, and the Gin Blossoms to get fired up for basketball and volleyball games. For some reason, my teammates always thumbed down my suggestion for Barry Manilow’s Copacabana though...
Sometimes we use quotes. Sometimes music. When I was in college and my mentor was dying of cancer, he told me that what he missed most was running. And so I was motivated to run for him - because he couldn't.
But rarely is motivation so clear.
Most people, myself included, struggle to want to work out. During my worst depressive episodes, it's more than enough to brush my teeth and get to work. Everyday life, fatigue, and the emotional strains of the day can make it difficult to make dinner, let alone get to the gym.
Recently I was listening to a book on habits and the author suggested that motivation doesn't always mean that you're thinking hell yeah.
I rewound the book and listened to the statement again.
Motivation does not always mean hell yeah.
For most of my life, I have enjoyed playing sports, exercising and working out. Over the course of almost 41 years, I'm lucky that I've had some hell yeah moments. But most of those came in sports - when I was excited to play a game and compete.
Since I've been working out and running on my own, I've had very few hell yeah moments. I often sign up for races and wonder what the hell I was thinking as I drag myself out of bed at 5:00 on a Saturday. I show up more out of obligation than motivation.
I said I'd run this race, so I'm going to run it. I paid to run this race, so I'm going to run it.
I've talked before about finding your why - your reason for wanting to lose weight or improve your fitness. You might want to work out so you can keep up with your grandkids, get off of medication, or improve your mood. Knowing and getting in touch with your reasons for working out can go a long way in getting you to the gym.
Motivation does not always mean hell yeah. It just means I'm going to find a way to do this.
But if chasing chickens and drinking raw eggs will get you fired up, I'm happy to add that into your workouts. :-)