How to get motivated to exercise

How do YOU get motivated to exercise? It’s cold, blustery and misty outside today. I spent most of summer yearning for the cool Arctic breeze to greet me so I can go walking or riding any time of the day without feeling like I’m going to pass out from the heat. After our long, hot, drought-ridden summer, winter has finally arrived. And here I am, huddled in my flannelette pyjamas, fluffy dressing gown and hand-knitted knee rug dreading the thought of going outside.

It’s a tricky head space to be in – knowing that I advocate for an outdoor adventurous lifestyle, and yet here I am, cocooned in my layers, inside my house, and trying desperately to find another thing to delay me before I go outside.

Being very conscious that my actions and values are simply not in alignment, I’ve given myself a stern talking to this week. Motivation is a pretty fickle thing. You can never rely on it. It’s a feeling that comes and goes and is affected by many different things – both positively and negatively. Sitting around waiting for motivation to arrive is fruitless. You need to take ACTION, and motivation will follow in its own good time.

motivation is fickle

I figured I’m probably not the only one who’s struggling at the moment (tell me that is so!!), so I’ve put together a list of tried and true strategies to get us exercising, no matter the weather, and no matter our motivation levels!

18 ways to get motivated to exercise

  1. Be accountable! To someone else, like a friend that you’ve agreed to meet for a walk. Or simply write your planned exercise activity in your diary and let others know ahead of time about your commitment.
  2. Something is better than nothing! Don’t get caught in the all-or-nothing type of thinking. If you’re running short on time, do what you can – 10 minutes is better than nothing.
  3. Make exercise part of your daily routine so there is little room for debate about what you’re going to do and when.
  4. Choose your reward! External rewards work well for some people – think of stickers for your exercise chart, or buying that new piece of gear when you’ve kept to your commitment. Or do you prefer to acknowledge that you feel great on the inside, knowing you’ve chosen well despite it being difficult, or noticing that you feel better?
  5. Celebrate your achievements! Be joyful for the hard work you’ve put in. But be careful you don’t self-sabotage your efforts by spending the rest of the day on the sofa or munching on a box of doughnuts.
  6. Change it up! Any activity that you repeat over and again can lose its gloss. Change your activity, route, place or even the time of day you’ve been exercising.
  7. Change how you see yourself! When you identify with a “healthy me, happy me” mentality, you’ll focus on healthy choices. Conversely if you see yourself as lazy and unfit, your actions are likely to reinforce that attitude.
  8. Break it down! If an hour of exercise seems like an eternity, then you’re going to dread it again tomorrow. Break it down into time portions, or ‘sets’. When I swim laps, I work on 10 minute sets each of kick board, freestyle, backstroke and so on. You can break your walk or ride up into sets too, aiming for a certain number of minutes, steps, mileage or landmarks in each set.
  9. Set goals! Register for an event and use it to keep you on track with your ‘training’ exercise. Or set a new goal each week, for example to walk 25 kilometres or to go to 3 classes by the end of the week.
  10. Do what works for YOU! Get a routine going that works FOR YOU. It’s your life. Your family. Your work situation. Your community. Whatever exercise routine you choose, make it do-able for you.
  11. Focus on something enjoyable! It could be the way the grass is blowing in the breeze, the smell of the wattles flowering, how awesome your new t-shirt feels, the increasing strength in your legs as you pound the pavement.
  12. Sign up! Check out what programs, challenges and memberships are available in your area or online.
  13. Pay your way! Does financial investment motivate you? Some people feel an extra commitment to get out the door after purchasing a membership, training program, new shoes or other equipment.
  14. Get expert support! Exercise physiologists and personal trainers can customise exercises and training plans that gradually build up as you do.
  15. Do what you love to do! If dancing around the lounge room to loud music is your thing, then do it! If digging holes in the paddock to put new fence posts in is your thing, then do it! If running marathons is your thing, then do it! You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.
  16. Be realistic! Know what is do-able for you and set your expectations and goals accordingly to boost your confidence, sense of achievement, and motivation.
  17. Do it for yourself! You’ll feel better, you know you will!
  18. Do it for those around you! Exercise and nature has incredible benefits for the way our brains work, the way we feel, and the behavioural choices we make. Generally, we’re nicer people to be around when we’ve looked after ourselves.

You owe it to yourself as well as others!

And if that’s not enough reason to motivate me to get outside on a blustery day, then I remind myself that I’m accountable to the community of women around me. The women who get involved with my projects, counselling and mentoring programs. I constantly encourage these women to get outside and get active, yet I also know how challenging it can be at times. I owe it to my family, friends and the community of women I work with to shut up, show up and practise what I preach.

Women exercising outdoors

In the end, a little bit of discomfort to get going will reap amazing benefits for the rest of the day. It doesn’t sound that hard, but, man oh man, that gusty wind sure is blowing away some of my motivation!

How will you manage your motivation today?

Let me know:

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to motivation to exercise?

And what strategies work for you?

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

How do you spring clean your mind?

Daisy Spoke Banner

Spring cleaning can happen at any time of the year

It’s spring at the moment in Australia where I’m sitting at my computer writing this blog post. As I reflect on the very warm day we’ve had, and the cool breeze wafting in through the window, thoughts of spring cleaning come to mind. But, why wait for spring??? Spring cleaning can happen at any time of the year!

Let go of what is no longer needed

Let go, spring cleaningWhat a great feeling it is to clean out the house, office or car; throw away, recycle or give away the excess that has accumulated over the past months, year, or more. Spring cleaning offers us a sense of lightness, organisation and order. It gives us renewed energy, like a gentle breeze after a hot day. We’ve swept out the cobwebs and feel fresh and clean again.

Our minds can do with a spring clean too

It’s not just our houses, offices and cars that need regular spring cleaning. Our minds need de-cluttering too, and in my opinion we can all benefit from a little de-cluttering every day. When we organise our thoughts and simplify our lives, our lives run smoother.

You can choose how to de-clutter your mind

Spring clean your mind on MTBSpring cleaning our houses is one thing, but how on earth do we go about de-cluttering our minds? One of the best ways to do this is by going for a walk, especially in a green zone. But you might prefer to spend some quiet time in the garden, listen to music, or do some painting. Perhaps you prefer more energetic methods of de-cluttering your mind like running, boxing, swimming or mountain bike riding (a personal favourite!).

Consistency and regularity are key!

Whatever your choice, remember to be consistent and regular with your actions so that things don’t get on top of you. Caring for your mind is just like housework and yard work. When you take regular small steps to clean up and clear out, life seems a whole lot less messy and there is space and energy for the things you value most.

Remember …. no matter the season, no matter the weather, you don’t need to wait till spring. Jump into spring cleaning today!

What works for you?

How do you de-clutter your mind and organise your thoughts?

 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

Ode to a Headwind

Ode to a Headwind

HEADWIND, how you frustrate me. You visit without warning in all seasons.

You turn a fun time into suffering. You change direction without warning. Swirling, confusing.

In SUMMER, you bring the hot dry desert to greet me as I walk out the door to ride.

Thirst and weariness always by my side. Dust and dirt worn with pride.

In WINTER, you sneakily invite the Antarctic spirits along for the ride.

Icicles and frostbite ripping at me, destroying my soul. In winter you take a toll.

In SPRING, you howl and whistle all around me, invading every space, disturbing every peace.

Your gale force beckons fears and nightmares. Felling trees. You have no cares.

In AUTUMN, the chill is in your breath. Pushing me. Compelling me. Exerting force.

You face me on the open hill. A reminder that change is inevitable.

HEADWIND – you are a force. Meet me face to face or back and forth.

Strength training is all I need. Ensuring power is matched with speed.

But, OH HEADWIND, honoured be your cause. The summer flies are no match for thee.

Gladly I face you as I ride east. Goddam flies! Pesky beasts!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.

The Forecast is for …. FLIES!

This season’s forecast is for flies.

Yep. That’s right.

It happens every year right about now. No matter what else the weather does, it always seems to set the right conditions for flies. And there’s no escaping it.

I generally consider myself an earth-loving kind of person. I think there’s a place for everything and everyone, but I really do have trouble allowing flies to have their space, or at least sharing it with me. I look forward to my morning run, walk or ride. I love being outdoors. I love exercising. I love nature. But I definitely struggle with flies.

So here was I this morning revelling in my ride when a fly tries to crawl into my left ear. Now that on its own makes my skin crawl. But then a swarm came at me. One on my sunglasses. One under my sunglasses. One in my eye. One on my top lip. Yew!!! Dozens on my legs and arms torturing me as they tickled, wandering aimlessly all over.

But it didn’t end there. What’s a girl to do when she’s being swarmed upon by flies while riding MTB? Not only that, but the trail suddenly got a bit tricky right at that moment when the fly attack took place. Can’t take hands off bars. Can’t swing arms or legs madly to chase them off. So I tried the only thing I could think of. I blew really hard, aiming my breath for the one on my lip whilst simultaneously visualising a force of air blowing out my ear, expelling yet another one. Scrunching up my eyes, squinting to see ahead so I could dodge the rocks and stay on the trail. Holding my breath as I rolled through the narrow gap between the trees. Whew! Made it!

Then the immense relief of being able to brush the flies off my face with my hands, take a deep breath, and remind myself we all have a place in this world. As I pedalled on up the hill, I hoped to find a fast downhill section of trail on the other side, the perfect set-up to outrun my nemesis.

 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.

My MTB Experiment: Part 3

I’ve continued to ride my MTB several times a week for at least an hour since initiating My Great MTB Experiment. Weekend group and family rides have been longer, usually 3 hours or so.

And, so, HOW AM I DOING NOW after quite a few weeks of persisting with regular practice? Well, thanks for asking! Yes! I am enjoying myself much more than I thought I would after finding myself in a veritable mental rut as far as summer riding goes. Whilst the summer temperatures and associated challenges continued, they’ve been less problematic than before. Fewer flies, hot temperatures rather than searing temperatures, and riding on open tracks rather than overgrown ones have all helped me to persist with regular practice. All this in spite of the various injuries from falls off my bike! Riding is feeling smoother and I’ve even been getting up a bit earlier (occasionally) to squeeze the rides into my day.

As far as the mental challenge of enjoying myself, I’ve found it easier to hear my ENCOURAGING, SUPPORTIVE INNER VOICES and have found it easier to tune out from my inner critic. I’ve been MINDFUL of some of the smaller GAINS I’ve made which have collectively contributed to feelings of motivation. When I haven’t felt especially motivated I’ve tapped into my sense of COMMITMENT to myself (and this blog!) and to those I ride with. I’m focusing on PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE and find myself looking forward to my rides and even …. (gasp!) … having FUN!

My plan is to keep the project rolling along with future updates to come! You can watch my video here:

My MTB Experiment: Part 2

So, The Great MTB Experiment has progressed through the first week ….. and how’s it going?

So far, I’ve managed to fall off my bike and get back up again with a few bruises and scrapes and a strained muscle in my chest. Nothing too bad really if you ignore the fact that I was aiming to improve my confidence through increasing my time on the bike!

And then there have been a couple of snakes, continuous heat for a couple of weeks in the high 30’s (deg C), and everyone everywhere is tired (including me).

But I’ve stuck at it and although I have questioned myself MANY times, and reasoned logically why I shouldn’t be bothered, I’ve kept my commitment. And so far I’m glad I have!

Have a listen here:

 

Summer Riding: learning from the flies, mozzies, heat, and snakes

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SUMMER ….. for many of my friends summer means beaches, swimming, ice creams and holidays. But for me, I associate summer with something different – flies, heat, mozzies, heat rash, snakes ….. did I mention the heat? And so far this summer there’s been an abundance of all the above!

MTB Bike Trail Fatigued from the heat of the day and the associated sleep disturbance through the night, I struggle to enjoy my mountain bike riding as usual. There’s a narrow time frame to get outside in order to avoid the oppressive heat. Yet even then it seems too hot, there are too many flies and mozzies, I still get heat rash all over (just like a baby, yes, including ….. well ….. including everywhere!) and there is the ever-present foreboding possibility of [GASP] snakes. Not just any snakes though. The snakes round this part of the world (Australia) are the deadliest on the planet, and in my little corner of the globe (Darling Downs, Queensland) they are more likely to be deadly than not!

So many worries, so many stresses, so many obstacles to keeping active in my summer time, so many internal voices directing me away from summer MTB and exercise in general. Too hot to eat. Too hot to sleep. Too hot to play. Too hot to be sociable. Bah humbug!

treeSitting down at home after a particularly hot day (it’s still over 30deg C at 7:30pm), I feel the faint breeze starting to work its magic, gently wafting through the windows, sharing its spirit and energy with me, re-energising and refreshing my body, mind and soul.

The sunset painted across the sky in pink and purple and orange reminds me of the varied and colourful world we share with billions of others on this planet, and that I am privileged for having shelter, clothing, food and clean water to drink.

Listening to the kookaburras calling to each other I can only imagine what stories they are sharing about their day. What story might I share from my day? A story of grumpiness and resentment? Or a story of gratitude and celebration of life?

The cicadas amplify their tune as darkness falls and I remember that there is so much more to this world than what I see at first glance and experience directly. Remember the little people, the little creatures, the unseen and unsong heroes, those without a voice in our society.

The stars and the moon come out to play as the evening cools off. Maybe this is my time to play too. How can I use the cool of the day better? And how can I make better make use of my time during the searing heat?

I hear a menagerie of other wildlife settling down for the night, or beginning their nightly rounds. How would it be to organise my life more in tune with the natural systems and patterns of the world around me?

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I remind myself I have so much more to learn about life and myself. By tuning into my personal experience of summer, I can find lessons that will teach me patience, tolerance, acceptance and compassion.

I can acknowledge my internal voices that convincingly tell me I ‘should’ be able to control my environment and my reactions better, that I haven’t achieved anything worthwhile today, and that my level of frustration and annoyance reflects the injustice of the summer conditions.

Summer riding (or not riding as the case may be) gives me the opportunity to learn about what matters most, what I can legitimately control and influence, the importance of pacing myself and being in tune with my inner and outer worlds, and learning to choose more wisely which of my inner voices I’ll listen to today.

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Logo 2 shorter hairSo tomorrow, with temperatures forecast at 37deg C (again), I choose something different. I choose to stay indoors to do core strength training (something I tend to neglect anyway!) instead of riding outdoors. I’ll have the fans on and a bottle of icy water beside me. No snakes. No mozzies. No flies. And the heat …. well there isn’t much I can do to control the weather, but some of my choices can make that somewhat less of a problem. I choose to be grateful for the choices I DO have, and to make the most of them. BUT ….. I expect that sometimes I’ll need reminding about that again!