Staying motivated is one of the most difficult obstacles for most people trying to get in shape. Sure, we can picture where we want to be, and we can plan for how we are going to accomplish our goals, but follow through? That's a completely different story. I know in my case, I can have the best game plan (I use the term "best" very liberally), but sooner or later (usually sooner) I will see something shiny and get distracted, forcing me to yet again start from square one. This could potentially stem from the fact that I love the mere planning of it. In fact, during the Great Fitness Competition of 2010 (so dubbed just now, by me), I took a week long break from both the Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred and my running program (the first time I attempted it) so that I could create a planner and corresponding spreadsheet that would track my progress. To be fair, it is a fantastic planner that is the subject of much admiration, but still. I don't know how many times in the past year I have embarked on the same running program, always starting from the beginning, but never reaching the end (actually, I do know, it has been 3 times). How many times in the past year have I started the South Beach Diet never to finish (also 3)? If I could just stay motivated, think about how much I could accomplish!
Which brings me to my next point: how to stay motivated. According to fitness magazines, blogs, and common sense, people use a number of different motivators in order to stay on track. Some people put pictures of when they were fit on their fridge. Others hang a dress/jeans/bathing suit they wish they could fit into on their door as a visible reminder of their goals. Sometimes, after people make progress, they keep around some of their larger clothing as a reminder of where they don't want to be again (I, on the other hand, relished throwing away my big jeans and never want to see them again).
Personally, there are only two things that really keep my focused: competition and camaraderie.
When I moved to San Antonio, I did not have much camaraderie. I didn't know anyone in town, and as a result, had a hard time making myself be active. I am pretty shy, and was nervous about joining classes, going swing dancing, or even using the gym at my apartment! It probably didn't help that it was the middle of June in Texas, and all I wanted to do was sit comfortably in the air conditioning while eating ice cream (which is strange considering that I don't particularly like ice cream all that much). Knowing that something had to change, my friend back home and I started the Great Fitness Competition of 2010. Because I am extremely competitive, I was actually able to find the beans to get up and do something! Of course, it didn't hurt that we had some pretty high stakes on the line (if I lost, I had to read Tek Wars by William Shatner and tell everyone how much I loved it; if she lost, she had to read the Last Song by Nicholas Sparks and tell everyone "wow, I thought the movie with Miley Cyrus was great, but the book is a million times better"). I started the South Beach Diet, did Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred at least 4 days a week, and went running regularly. My competitive side took over, and since I didn't have much in San Antonio to distract me, I was able to keep my focus.
In October, the 90 day contest ended, and so did my progress. I was still doing the occassional workout, and not eating nearly as many chicken nugget meals as before, but I was pretty much at a motivational standstill.
In February, my company transferred me back to my hometown. Now, I am surrounded by family and friends galore! The best part is that when I moved back, my friends were all itching to get active again. I was worried that we would end up spending our free time watching movies and eating junk food (much like when a few of us lived together in college). Instead, we started up the running program again and we've started rock climbing nearly every other day. Maddie taught us how to slack-line, Kirsten just participated in the Warrior Dash, and Hannah is teaching me how to boulder! We've made plans to go kayaking, yoga-ing, and swing dancing. This also means that I now have partners that will hold me accountable when I want to do a challenge. Kirsten has motivated me to sign up for the Warrior Dash next year. Maddie and I will be participating in the Official Stair Climb next February. We're even doing our first 5k in the coming weeks! I know that without the encouragement, enthusiasm, and accountability of each other, none of us would be nearly as active as we are today.
The only way this could be better, would be if we could somehow combine the comraderie and competition... What do you say?
What do you do to stay motivated? How likely is it that my kayak will flip over, considering my lack of experience? Have you read Tek Wars by William Shatner, or any of his other post-Star Trek, pre-comedy books?