Friday, November 16, 2018

Staying Motivated - By Jim Duggan

     As I am writing this, I am looking out my window at the snow on the ground from the first snowstorm of the season.  The snow, cold temperatures, and gloomy forecast remind me of two things.  First, that this is just the beginning, a preview of what's to come during the next few months.  Second, the holidays are rapidly approaching.   This is reinforced by the large Christmas display at the local Home Depot, the Christmas music playing at the bank, as well as the holiday light display along Pitkin Avenue in Brownsville, Brooklyn, where I work.
     For many trainees, the holidays pose a significant problem.  Staying on a workout regimen. Finding time to train.  How to avoid overeating and other indulgences.  Finding the motivation to train hard. It's very easy to fall into a rut.  Miss a couple workouts, fall off your diet, and you can easily see how quickly your progress can slow down or even stop.  And once you stop it will become difficult to resume a training program.
     Once you hit a snag, you can become dejected and lose your drive to train.  Once your drive is stymied, your progress comes to a halt.  Now, there are ways to deal with a training slump.  One method that has worked for some people is to take a brief layoff from working out.  I say "some people" because I don't believe in taking layoffs. Layoffs have just never been something that worked for me. There are those who benefit greatly from an occasional break from training, and if you are one of those individuals, then a scheduled layoff of a week or so will help recharge your body, and energize your training.   I've never liked taking time off from working out.  Doing nothing can become a habit.  Besides, the worst part of doing nothing is that you never know when you're finished ( sorry for the lame joke.)  Seriously, becoming lazy, or sedentary,  even if only for a brief period, can lead to longer periods of inactivity. I don't believe in backsliding- whether it be in lifting, or life itself. The only way is to keep going.  Even if your lifting may have hit an inevitable "sticking point," there are other ways to improve your strength, health, and appearance without burning yourself out.  Instead of taking a day off, go for a vigorous walk.  Engage in some of other form of physical activity on your "off days."  This will provide your body with some sort of exercise.  It will also give you the motivation to follow healthy eating habits.  If you stick to an exercise program, then you will have the incentive to be disciplined during the holidays when temptation- in the form of too much food- is everywhere.
     The hardest part of staying disciplined is to make up your mind decisively and just do it.  Decide that you want to continue to make progress, and that nothing will stop you from achieving your goals.  Then work out your plan, and do it.  Ambition plus effort equals success.
     There are ways to stay motivated during this time of year.  Since it isn't beach season ( at least here in New York), one has to be creative in developing a plan to maintain training enthusiasm.  One way, if you happen to train in a commercial gym, is to think of how empty the gym will be in December.  The lack of crowds ( toners, pumpers, gym bros, etc.) means that there will be less nonsense and no waiting for equipment and machines.  Imagine how crowded things will be in January, when the Resolutioners invade the gym.  Now, think about how much you can accomplish during December when you have the gym to yourself.
     Now, back to the training itself. What if you have a bad workout? My answer to that is "So what?"  Every person who has ever lifted weights has experienced the occasional "off day."  This is particularly true for drug-free lifters.  Let's face it.  A bad workout every once in a while is a fact of life. It's not a reason to panic, or become dejected.  Learn from it, and move on.  Now, if you have a succession of bad workouts, then it maybe time to analyze what you're doing.  Are you getting enough sleep? Are you getting proper nutrition? Again, the holiday season can bring about bad habits, and halt progress.  Overcome that which will stop your progress.
     Of course, one of the best ways to get out of a rut is to not fall into one in the first place.  Discipline yourself into not only training consistently, but into putting everything you have into each and every workout. Every set and every rep. Don't sleepwalk through your workout.
     Setting goals will help keep you focused. Not only long-term goals but short-term as well.  Remember, the most worthwhile goals will never be achieved without a systematic plan of action.  Great things cannot happen if you do not make them happen. That heavy barbell will not lift itself.
     There is one trick to maintain motivation that I first read about ten years ago.  Since most people make resolutions for the new year, and subsequently begin working towards those goals after January 1st, what's wrong with getting an early jump on the year ahead? Who says you have to wait until January to begin your quest for Strength and Health?  Why not start now? You'll gain a healthy head start on everyone else.  And you'll feel better about yourself in the process.
     Once a man ( or woman) gives up, he/she is beaten.  You can't be beaten as long as you continue to fight.  Fight for your goals, fight for the things you want in life.  Strength and Health are noble pursuits that are worth fighting for.
     Don't use the holiday season as an excuse to skip's a poor one.  Keep lifting.  You'll be glad you did.

Editor's Note: Great article Jim.
Does modern bodybuilding make you sick? You should write for Natural Strength! I always need good articles about drug-free weight training. It only has to be at least a page and nothing fancy. Just write it strong and truthful with passion! Send your articles directly to me:

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