How to Overcome the Struggle of Motivation

weightlosscompare

Motivation. Oh man, motivation. Lack of motivation is one of the worst feelings to have. Like spinning your tires in the mud or trying to swim with no air. You desire one thing but fail to go through the motions of getting there. You know what I’m talking about. It is common to struggle with finding motivation every day.


I’ve accomplished amazing things with one of my struggles: I lost 150lbs in 16 months and have kept it off. It wasn’t easy and almost impossible without figuring out ways to keep me motivated, but I still have to fight every day to find it. The motivation for me to lose weight was to be able to fight in the SCA, Society for Creative Anachronisms. I knew I couldn’t do it at 330lbs so I had to change my eating habits, workouts had to be a thing now and my mindset had to completely change.

Right now I don’t even want to be writing. Why? I have more than enough subjects to write about and it doesn’t exactly take an extraordinary amount of effort to sit and type. Why is it ‘easier’ to tell yourself no and not go through with it instead of just making the decision to accomplish something?

It takes almost the same amount of time and in the long run, most of the time the same effort. Is it because we’re afraid of failing? Or is it that we’re afraid of doing better than we thought therefore adding more responsibility and raising the bar? No matter what is holding us back in finding our motivation I’ve used these tricks in helping get my butt moving – whether it be writing a blog or getting my sweat on in the gym.

At 330lbs I couldn't even bend over to tie my shoes. Now my knees could do things the doctors didn't even imagine possible, including squats.
At 330lbs I couldn’t even bend over to tie my shoes. Now my knees could do things the doctors didn’t even imagine possible, including squats.

Benchmarking for Comparison

When you start on any journey such as getting in shape or working on a talent, make sure to take note of your starting point. Metrics are important. Take pictures of everything along with measurements and any other number or way to keep track of progress. Don’t beat yourself up over your starting point, just use it to motivate you to be a tiny bit better every day. It won’t come in handy right away, but as you continue your journey it will aid in motivating you to push harder and compete with your past self.

And when you feel yourself starting to slip, because we ALL slip, you can look and compare where you’ve come from.

One step further:write two lists. One list of current things you cannot do and another list of some things you’d love to do when you reach your end goal. For example, when I wanted to lose weight tying my shoes was something I could not do and being able to run a 5k was something I’d love to do. All of these lists help keep things in perspective.

Fjord horse at the Horse World Expo
I absolutely love horses. I have my entire life. But I could only do so much with how out of shape I was and the lack of discipline with taking lessons. I didn’t even want to be in pictures.

Goals and Finding Your Motivation Mindset

Always have goals. Even if you start out super small. One blog a week or 20 minutes in the gym every other day or fight practice once a week. Set yourself small and attainable goals and put a reminder everywhere.

I have small notes left on white boards everywhere. This way the end goal doesn’t seem so impossible and intimidating. I found setting weekly and then a monthly goal does the best for me. The secret is to make these goals hard enough to push yourself but easy enough to achieve them, which will build your confidence.

When working towards these goals, be aware of your mindset. If you don’t achieve a goal, instead of beating yourself up, you should focus on why you didn’t achieve that goal and work on it. Learn from your mistakes. Forcing yourself to put a positive spin on failures can seem cheesy at first but doing so will slowly help improve your thought process in a positive way which eases the fear of failure.

Dressage Horse Show
Not allowing any excuses to take shape in my head help me find my discipline which gave me amazing results. Achieved a dream of mine to participate in a Dressage Show. We won a first, second and second.

Weaknesses

You are the only person that is going to be in your corner no matter what. Through thick and thin. Easy times and hard. You know yourself better than anyone else and you have to live with yourself.

It’s hard to admit when you have a weakness and even harder to push yourself to exploit them and use them against yourself. Know what mistakes you continually do. I snack like crazy at night on anything and everything I can get my hands on. I will start to make every excuse in the book of why it’s okay and I KNOW my resilience never lasts. So I instead force myself to be extra busy at night and throw out anything that might tempt me.

I’ll save my gym trips till later in the day and will focus on chores or even video games. Anything to keep my hands and mind busy and away from my weakness of snacks late at night.

I know that I won’t make the trip to the gym if my gym clothes are not easy accessible. So I make sure to always to pack a gym bag that’s ready to go.

I know I won’t go to fight practice if I don’t have achievable goals planned out and once again have my gear washed and ready to go. I also make sure to tell my knight and my fellow fighters when I’m going so they either go too, which means I have to go, or they help motivate me when I’m having an off day.

Know what excuses your brain easily jumps to and don’t allow it to happen.

No. FOCUS.

Knowing your goals clearly and knowing your weaknesses are helpful, but sometimes following through can be difficult. When you find your focus starting to drift, firmly tell yourself NO.

Don’t let your brain start to formulate ways around your current goal. Let me hop on the computer and start to type my blog…. but I haven’t checked on Facebook in 5 minutes…. NO. I know if I end up on Facebook it will be hours later and any little motivation I had to write is now gone.

There’s always tomorrow, right? WRONG. Do it now. Don’t even give your brain a chance to think about it. Even if you need to start a mantra in your head to keep the other voices of bad habits and laziness out, you need to commit to your goal. I will go on a run now. I will go on a run now. I will go on a run now…

Even though I kept an active lifestyle and continued to LARP I continued to hold myself back because it was easy. Photo Credit: Darren M. Fitzgerald Photography at Seventh Kingdom IGE
Even though I kept an active lifestyle and continued to LARP I continued to hold myself back because it was easy. That’s me in the blue with my back to the camera. Photo Credit: Darren M. Fitzgerald Photography at Seventh Kingdom IGE

Reward Yourself

Always, always, always reward yourself. I mean, they even teach dogs with positive reinforcement, why not use that on yourself? Of course keep it all within the guidelines of your goal but treat it like it’s a special reward. Pushed extra hard at the gym? I found an extra delicious protein powder that I save for after a hard work out. Did some extra art work or wrote a blog? Play a video game for an hour. Know your weaknesses but also know how you can reward yourself to help motivate yourself.

If it was easy, everybody would do it. Photo Credit: billreshetarphoto
If it was easy, everybody would do it. Photo Credit: billreshetarphoto

Routine. Routine. Routine.

This is my biggest secret and how I’ve been able to keep up with weight loss and being active when fighting for the past year. Motivation is hard to come by and extremely fleeting. But when you get in a routine that includes time to work towards your goal it becomes easier. Almost to the point of where you start to look forward to those moments. Don’t be afraid to start out small but doing the same thing every day or even every week will prove to your brain it’s doable, you’re not going to die and before you know it you’re going to start seeing results!

I am the least motivational person I know. If I could sit in my bed all day every day reading I probably would. I’d be miserable but the urge is there. Instead I push myself every day using these tips and now I’m doing things I never would have thought possible.

Don’t limit yourself and don’t over think it. Take it one day at a time and be understanding with yourself. It’s not easy but the end result is worth it in more ways than one.

Have you found anything that spurs you into action and jumpstarts your motivation? I’d love to know and I always want to try different things to keep things new and exciting. Let me know what works for you in the comments!

19 thoughts on “How to Overcome the Struggle of Motivation

  1. Thanks for posting this. I’m a 32 year old guy in the SCA just getting into heavy fighting after a few years of injuries and gaining loads of weight since moving from Scotland to the US.
    My heaviest was when I was really depressed at 21 where I was almost 300lbs. I lost the weight, got into great shape then moved here and gained two thirds of it back.
    I’ve been having a hard time motivating myself but I am finally starting to lose a few pounds at a time and keeping it off. And reading this has really helped to get me in the right mindset. If I keep at it, one day I’ll even be able to hold my shield up for more than two minutes!

    Thanks again, good job and good luck!

  2. I often have to repeat to myself “Go for a run..You’ll feel better after it than when you give yourself a guilt trip layer for skipping it.” And I really do feel better after it. The same usually goes for getting to the gym. I love the high after a good workout but some days it’s hard to move myself to go get it rather than sit around and binge watch netflix. I also find teaming up with someone helps. If I schedule a run time with my sister I won’t miss it since she’s depending on me to be there.
    Really great points on keeping up motivation.

  3. I think the thing that I like best about your story is the two pictures up top. Sure you’re skinnier but you didn’t lose who you are in between having a lot of weight and losing a lot of it. The smile hasn’t changed. As I am about to tackle similar issues with similar hoped results (I too want to fight) I see all these people talk about weight loss and I don’t see the same person. Some change and they are happier, some change and they look miserable. You physically changed but who you are as a person hasn’t. Thanks for sharing your tips, a few of them I’ve already seen here and there but several of them are new.

  4. What a fantastic post. I’m currently training to run a half marathon and working on my steel fighting authorization and with these cold winter mornings, the motivation to stay snuggles with my kittahs is far greater! Thank so much for this post, it was exactly what I needed to read today. Also, Hufflepuff rules!

  5. Congratulations on setting and chasing your goals! You are inspirational. I am fighting the battle of excess weight. About 15 years ago, I lost 65 pounds and was doing and feeling great. But life got supper stressful and the weight has returned. I struggle to tie my shoes, I love horses…had to sell mine a year and half ago.:*( . My problem with exercise is that I deal with almost constant pain in my feet and in my back. I actually was on bed rest for almost 5 months and on tons of pain meds. By the time I get home from work ….I’m exhausted and need to rest…which is opposite of what I should do…I don’t snack much at all any more and my eating habits are not stellar, but are not what they used to be years ago, and I’m still gaining weight. I just got engaged and am getting married in June. I really hope I can loose at least 10 pounds…or more by then…but am doubtful…. I could use some encouragement…

  6. I, too, was 330 pounds when I started the SCA and lost 90 pounds in my first 12 months.

    I fell into depression and gained some back, but you’ve inspired me to keep going. Thank you!

  7. Great blog. I was at 330 in October and have lost about 38 pounds so far. It’s so frustrating ’cause stupid things are so difficult like fitting inside a porta-loo, finding a camp chair that will support me, or finding garb that doesn’t just look like a pavillion. I want to fight and my knees just won’t let me, let alone finding armor that fits and doesn’t cost a million dollars. Even though I have so many motivators, every day is a fight against my food demons and it helps to hear that I am not the only one struggling with motivation all the time. I would love to start up a conversation with you if possible. Let me know.

  8. Thank you. I’m on week 4 of my weight loss journey and I’ve already lost 13 lbs. I’ve still got a long way to go, though

  9. Thanks. I have the same problem you conquered. Thank you for sharing your success with me. I will make a routine, and stick it out this time. I know my weaknesses, just like you said, and you’ll use your tips to conquer myself. Thanks.

  10. I want to let you know that this article has inspired me just when I needed inspiration. One of my “secret (well, not now!) aspirations” has been to take up Bueno, but my terrible level of fitness as well as some orthopaedic. My Dr. has me in a weight loss program that’s helpful but I’m stalled and feeling stuck and frustrated. Your story has helped and I’ve bookmarked it to read when I’m feeling down. Thank you and congratulations on your success.

  11. I need to know what protein powder you are referring to. 😉 I’ve yet to find a tasty one.

    I really need to follow all of this!!

  12. A very motivating article!! It’s so true that it’s often the same reason that stop me from doing something. Good to be aware of it!! One of my way to motivate myself is to focus on the person I want to be, and when I question myself, I just wonder what that person would do? That way, I’m sure to be the person I want to be, by acting in every small thing to achive my goal, one step at the time.

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