Thursday, February 11, 2010

What's My Motivation?

Whether you’re training for something in particular, the doctor told you that you absolutely must exercise, or simply you just feel that you’ve gotten far too fat for your own good, you can’t avoid the fact that you will likely have to start hitting the ol’ gym. Motivation is not easy to come by, since the gym straight up sucks. Keeping up this motivation to go is a tremendous pain in the ass, and sometimes much harder work than the working out itself. If you’re serious about working out this time, then there are a few key points to remember, to try and sustain that motivation for as long as possible.

First of all, if it is the beginning of a New Year, then you should just skip January altogether. Most people make some kind of silly New Year’s resolution to start going to the gym like crazy. “This year is the year”, they think. That’s why you often see big crowds at the gym during the month of January. Everyone starts off strong, but by Valentine’s Day, they’re all sitting at home in their underwear eating chocolates out of a gift box and swallowing those spicy cinnamon hearts whole, with a tall glass of pop, and trying to remember when the last time they went to the gym was, reminiscing, if you will.

“I went three times last week” they claim, actually referring to a week in mid January.

Fuck all that noise. In January, suddenly everyone is walking around, working with those personal trainers, taking up space, and looking stupid. There are always at least a few people being shown how to exercise, and like, how to use a treadmill in case they were dropped into this century directly from the late eighteen hundreds.

“Oh, I think I get it now, you run in the opposite direction of the belt on the short fast moving walkway? I was trying to use my hands to stop the belt altogether, I assumed it was some sort of upper body strength and stamina test.”

It’s aggravating and everyone is so damn excited, for a little while, which could be motivating if they kept going, but most won’t. You don’t need to be around all those chipper perky eager beavers who will end up stopping completely in a few weeks anyways. It’s really the opposite of motivating once you start seeing them all dropping like flies. You’re better off never seeing them in the first place. You may have even been one of those keeners yourself at one point, we all have. We have all dropped out at some point, or not (maybe you’re one of those super fit peoples that self motivates super easily, and that us commoners gaze at in sheer amazement, if so, fuck you). We also all know that surviving the great late-January drop out period is difficult. To avoid all this, just skip the gym during the entire month. Instead do some at home workouts to keep active. Some examples could be:

- Diced Tomato Can Juggling
- Couch Cushion Fort Making
- Bathroom Tub Scrubbing
- Imaginary Friend Wrestling
- Drink Coaster Ultimate Frisbee
- Guitar Hero
- Somersaults

Basically, include any activity that can keep you busy and motivated for your eventual gym arrival. January is party month.

Once February hits or it’s currently some other month altogether, like Auguptember or something, then the coast is clear, and it’s time to get crackin’. Unless it’s Monday, of course, don’t start on Mondays. Mondays are bullshit. Never go to the gym on Mondays. It’s sort of like how in January, everyone thinks, “This year is the year!” Well, each week, on Mondays, a whole mess of people think, “This week is the week!” So forget Mondays, they are crowded, smelly, loud, and full of people aimlessly wandering around trying to decide which machine to try out, working out on one (half-assedly) for five minutes or less and then returning to their aimless wander. Not motivating, just plain annoying.

Ok, so it’s Octovember, it’s a Tuesday, and it’s time to rock and roll.

Except, don’t go right after work, it will be way too crowded. You’ll end up having to wait to get a machine or the weights that you need, and then eventually you’ll just think, “Well, screw this, my show’s on”, and bail. If you are able to go smack dab in the middle of the morning, this is the best time to go. You will be surrounded by a relatively small number of students, strippers and the unemployed (the SSU for short), and motivation will be at an all time high. Be sure to have breakfast at least one hour before going, and steer clear from eggs (increases the odds of treadmill egg farts), cereal (leads to milky acid reflux vomit), orange juice (causes horrible stomach burn sensations), or more than a single cup of coffee (you may end up surprising yourself while crunching your abs, see: Quelle Surprise!). If you’re not a member of the SSU, and you don’t work a nightshift of any kind, then the morning is out of the question. You can lie to yourself and say that you’ll go before work, but you won’t. You’ll do it once or twice, maybe, but you’ll end up skipping a few mornings in a row at one point, and then thinking “What’s the point again?” Three months and twenty pounds later, you’re right back where you started, face down in a pool of bacon grease at a breakfast buffet somewhere in rural Quebec.

The only other time that won’t be too crowded is in the evening, after supper time. Chances are motivation will be at a daily low for you to even step foot outside of the home, because you’ll be lethargic from an unhealthy supper and just too flat out lazy to pull yourself away from whatever gripping reality show is popular at that time. Probably something called ‘In Your Face Boyz: Real Adventures of Asshole Dudes and Them Rich Ladies’ or ‘Single Mama On the Prowl: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places’ or ‘Celebrity Orgies XVII - The Gossip Girl Edition’ or ‘Fashion Explosion Bonanza Showdown’. So you need to either quit your job (and get a night job, see: Seasonal Affective Disorder) or destroy your television and eat better (only before the workout, afterwards you can eat anything) if you are actually serious about staying motivated and getting into shape... or have willpower, whichever.

Alright, so it’s the right month, the right weekday and the right hour for motivation, it is officially time to start feeling the burn.

There are several excuses that your brain will throw at you to prevent the actual journey to the gym from taking place, even when the conditions are perfect as I have just described. You must be well aware of your brain’s trickery, and call bullshit on any excuses that it dangles at you. Some examples could be:

- I really should stay home and clean.
- What if someone calls while I’m out?
- I didn’t eat too badly today, anyways.
- I’ll go tomorrow, for twice as long.
- I’ve got so much reading to catch up on.
- Didn’t I go yesterday?
- I could just not go, but tell people that I did, they won’t know.
- I haven’t really had any time to just sit and relax today. I need some ‘me’ time.
- I’ve got a headache.
- I’ll start fresh tomorrow / next week / next month / next year / next life.
- I did do a lot of walking today.
- I don’t want to run into any traffic.
- I really should do groceries. I mean, I can’t live without food after all.
- I don’t have any new music on my [enter popular Mp3 player name here].
- I think I might be getting sick, I should rest.
- Is that the doorbell? No? Oh, it sure sounded like it. I’ll stay here in case.
- But, I just showered!
- I agree that staring at the wall is fun.
- There’s a sidewalk sale at the mall? Well, that’s a once in a lifetime kind of thing.
- I shouldn’t have to go if I don’t want to go.
- I think I feel a poop coming.

Tell your brain to shut up, pack your bag and head out for that beautifully constructed and often poorly ventilated establishment known as the gym. By car, foot, bus, cab, boat, snowmobile, donkey or water ski, you made it. You’re at the gym. Now, your brain will assault you with its last line of anti-motivational defense. Its goal is to get you to return home, prior to working out. Some examples could be:

- What? I forgot my lock?
- Oh no! I brought the bad socks!
- It seems crowded.
- Did I lock the door at home?
- I’m pretty sure I left the oven on.
- Man, this is going to suck.
- It turns out, my [enter popular Mp3 player name here] has no batteries left.
- I should go home and check my email.
- I think I feel a poop coming.

Make up your mind by telling your mind to shut up again and that you are definitely staying. You’re here and you’re going inside. Once in, change quickly so that you don’t succumb to your brain’s aforementioned arsenal of excuses to leave before working out. You get into the workout area, you are ready to sweat. There are still millions of motivation killers lurking about (including your own mind), so you need to know what they are and try and avoid them.

Whether you wish to start with weights and then finish with cardio, or vice-versa, try and do more than ten minutes of cardiovascular exercise. Sometime after the ten minute mark, your brain will start throwing excuses at you yet again, in an attempt to make you quit early, before you have had a good workout. It’s really important to do more than just ten minutes, according to some doctors and shit, so arm yourself with willpower and swat away negative thoughts. Some examples could be:

- That’s enough already.
- I can still make it home for the tail end of prime time television
- If I stop now, then I could re-use these clothes for the next workout, I’m only mildly smelly.
- The restaurants are closing soon and I want hot dogs
- I can feel my phone ringing at home
- I came to the gym, who cares how long I stay? What’s important is that I came.
- Is that rain outside? I should check.
- I’m bored, so bored.
- I think I feel a poop coming.

Another important point to note is to stay far away from Captain Socialfaces. A Captain Socialface hangs out in the weight area in general. You will know a Captain Socialface by their irritatingly obnoxious voice, their tendency to walk around talking to people instead of doing anything, their annoying way of trying to inform people how to properly do a certain exercise, and their uncanny ability to groan and grunt during every weight set that they eventually do. A Captain Socialface often does a very tiny amount of reps with insanely heavy weights. They will emit anything from a mild grunt to a guttural howl in order to draw attention to themselves during their set, at the end of which they will drop their weights to the floor and make a thunderous noise that echoes through the entire gym, assuring that everyone is forced to look in that general direction. They will then rise from whatever sit, squat, lying or upside down position that they were in, and scan the area, to be sure that everyone is looking. Then they’ll walk around talking to people again, loud, obnoxious and vain. Nothing can drain motivation and increase the desire to leave faster than a Captain Socialface.

What is this need for grunting? At no point in time does any human being need to make a noise like this. They are showboating, they are communicating with the outside world, trying to say, “Check me out, I’m fucking huge, I’m all strong'n'shit, I’m awesome”. The proof that there is never an actual need to grunt is pretty simple to find. If you are completely by yourself, lying around at home, you would never make any grunting noises, or any sound at all for that matter, no matter what activity you are in the process of undertaking. Toe stubbing, pooping, self-gratification, all pass by with little more than a simple exhale of the nostrils and a casual blink of the eyes. Sometimes you may cough aloud, if you choke on water or saliva. Some people claim to laugh out loud when alone, but that’s just nuts. Equally crazy is having the occasional self conversation, but we all do this, even though we know it’s certifiable. I like to talk to myself in a British accent. It makes me feel more regal. But there is never any uncontrollable grunting, no matter how backed up you are or how much pain you are in, because grunting is communication, and communication is social, and socializing takes at least two. In short, if you are one of the local Captain Socialfaces at your gym, then you must quit the gym immediately and go get some help.

Stinky sweaty smelly people (Smellies) may also hinder your motivation, so be very careful when picking out a workout machine not to pick a machine near any of these smellies. Each smelly has a different smelly radius, so the distance can fluctuate, but as a rule of thumb, if you can hear them breathing, then you're too close. Feel free to change machines mid workout, if in fact a smelly gets on a machine too close to yours. Never ever look a smelly in the eyes. -Special thanks to my wife for reminding me of the presence of Smellies, and their effect on one's motivation-

Joining any Aerobic, Spinning, Tae-Poo-ing, Hippie Yoga-ing, Douche Bagging, Basket Weaving or whatever classes that your gym offers could help increase your motivation, in that suddenly you have a rigid schedule to follow, and people expect you to show up to class. Be careful however, since, joining classes could also decrease your motivation, in that suddenly you have a rigid schedule to follow, and people expect you to show up to class.

Have a target in your mind, a goal to achieve, and focus on it as often as you can. This will help you stay pumped, especially once (if) you start to see yourself heading towards that end goal. Some examples could be:

- I should lose one million pounds.
- I need to make my wiener look bigger.
- I like being able to eat more, free of guilt!
- I’d hate to have to buy new clothes, yet again.
- I want to run a marathon, eventually.
- I feel exhausted when I put on my socks in the morning and that seems wrong to me.
- I’m currently sad and pathetic all the time, let’s fix that.
- I wish I needed less naps.
- I haven’t been thinking that "I think I feel a poop coming" as often as I would like to of late.

Starting your workout regimen with a friend, relative or significant other can often increase the overall motivation. You must be careful though, as sometimes you will assist each other in your laziness, and join forces to eat fried chicken, watch ‘Wheel of Jeopardy’, not exercise and be thoroughly and completely void of all motivation for working out.

“You’re not going? Well, fuck it, I’m not going either!”
Then they celebrated, with corn dogs, beer and their favorite episode of ‘Same Ol’ Shit’.

You can often motivate one another through the use of left handed compliments. This works even more effectively when it is with your significant other. Some examples could be:

- Nice shirt, you look less wide.
- Nice jeans, your butt looks smaller.
- Congratulations on actually stopping after two plates, piggy.
- You know you’re not so slim yourself, chunks.
- I’m surprised that you haven’t exploded yet.
- Oh yeah? Well, go to the gym fatso!
- I want a divorce.
- I’m keeping the dog.
- I think I feel a poop coming.

Once you complete an entire workout, it’s always good to reward yourself afterwards. This will keep you motivated for the next time. Reward yourself with burgers, pizza, ice cream, heavy cheesecakes, king-size chocolate bars or whole bags of your favorite kind of chip. Eat these junk food rewards while watching your favorite programs and sitting on your ass. You will feel a veritable surge of motivation in no time at all. These rewards may, however, further distance you from your goals, which can in turn, decrease motivation.

I guess the real key to sticking with it, is actually sticking to it. The more you go, the more the motivation to go will come naturally. Also, don’t expect overnight results. These things take time. You will see results, eventually. If you expect big changes in a short time frame, you will be utterly disappointed, and this disappointment will in turn cause you to lose even more motivation. I must admit though, overnight results would be much more motivating than having to wait like infinity years for results. Man, this is bullshit, it’s not fair. I quit.

That’s it. My brain was right, writing this was much better than going to the gym.

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