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Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Just Showing Up

When people first start exercising or even when they have been at it for awhile, sometimes it is extremely hard to get motivated. There comes a point when although you have every intention of going to the gym, you either put it off, or talk yourself out of it. You are too tired, too busy or kind of sick of the whole thing. Facing another morning of sweat, panting and lactic acid burn is the last thing you want to do.

So often we promise ourselves "this week I'll do weights three times and cardio three times and have one rest day" but by Wednesday or Thursday morning we would rather stay in bed or read blogs instead. We promise to make it up on another day but now the thought of going to the gym is even less attractive because we have to do twice as much work.

To make matters worse, we feel slightly annoyed at ourselves for not being committed. Although we would never say it out loud, words like fat, lazy, slack, undisciplined, and failure sneak into our thoughts.

Instead of setting goals that you have some chance at failing at for whatever reason, set a goal to just show up. Make an appointment every morning/lunch-time or after work and simply go to the gym. Put on your most comfortable training clothes and walk in the door. That is all you have to do to meet your goal. Once you are inside you can get a coffee at the cafe, take a sauna or do a few stretches. You aren't obliged to work at all. You don't have to stay for an hour. You just have to show up.

If you don't train at a gym, just go to the park, or walk out the door with your ipod and joggers, or put on a DVD and simply watch it.

When you have finished doing whatever you decide is appropriate for that day go home and put a star on your calendar for completing your goal. You committed to showing up and you did it.

If you do this for a week, a few excellent things will happen.

★ You will discover that the hardest part of going to the gym/park/outside is going to the gym/park/outside. Once you are there you will probably find the energy to train.
★ You will create a habit that will become as automatic as brushing your teeth. Going to the gym will be something that becomes programmed into your day without a lot of mental struggle.
★ You will learn to really listen to your body. When you are genuinely fatigued, you will feel invigorated by a slow walk, or a steamy sauna
★ You will be achieving one simple goal every single day which will empower you to tackle other goals [like lighting a candle, sitting in a quiet room and breathing for just 10 breaths if you find it difficult to meditate]
★ You will discover that something is better than nothing
★ You will train because you choose to, not because you have to
★ You will be inspired by other people training hard around you and might feel like joining them

There are lots of other areas that would benefit by 'just showing up'. Set a reoccurring appointment on your calendar with an alarm to remind you to drink one glass of water. That's it - 11am every day, drink one glass of water. Or do one pushup before you get into bed. You might do more, but you get a reward if you show up for your one thing every single day.

But what about my rest day? I hear you cry. Keep the same appointment but give yourself a decent reward. Walk to the shops and buy a magazine, paint your fingernails, get a massage. Make sure that once a day, even on your rest day, preferably at the same time, you show up for yourself and consciously devote 5 or 10 minutes to looking after you.

Go on, I dare you!


  1. It is so appropriate that I find this post now....when I am having a really, really tough time motivating myself to exercise! You are so right when you say the hardest part is actually turning up. Great post!

  2. Double dare - no returns!

  3. Anonymous8:16 pm

    Boy did I need that today. Thanks Katie, Essie

  4. Anonymous8:35 pm

    Katie, you're a star, just decided to show up at the gym, and guess what, I did the RPM class. Going to keep just showing up.

  5. Awesome post Katie - just what I needed to read x

  6. I felt like this on Friday morning. Alarm went off and I REALLY didn't want to get up and do my HIIT cardio workout. I figured I'd just put my gear on and wander out to the treadmill. Got on it - did the first two of the three challenges thinking I wouldn't do the third. Ended up doing it. Amazing how much just showing up makes you want to complete whatever it is!