For busy moms around the world, motivation to exercise can be difficult to come by. Your day is a rollercoaster from dusk till dawn, packing lunch boxes, getting kids dressed for school, making sure they catch the bus on time and getting yourself ready for work. And don’t get me started on the dishes and the laundry that must be fit into that already busy day.
Today I will be looking at a number of tips I have personally used to keep my motivation levels up even during those times that I just didn’t feel like running. I hope that you find something to get your motivation up for those treadmill runs.
Finding your why
This has become quite a popular saying among motivational speakers, and some might even say it has become cliché. That is beside the point though. If you really want something, and you can write down exactly ‘why’ you want it, it becomes infinitely more powerful.
Your why is what will keep you motivated, and this method is not some kind of a short-term shortcut or hack. If you know your ‘why’, and you remind yourself regularly, your motivation will rarely be lacking. On those days where you are just not up for anything, the other methods listed here will help to raise your motivation levels.
Setting specific goals
Once you have established your ‘why’, you will know what your end goal is. With that in mind, you must keep telling yourself that every step you take on the treadmill, is getting you a little closer to that goal.
It is critical to set a goal that is specific and measurable. If you set a vague goal like ‘I will feel good about my body when summer comes around’, you are unlikely to achieve your goal.
If you set a specific goal like ‘I will drop 1 dress size by the end of next month, and I will achieve this by doing 20mins on the treadmill every day’ you are well on your way to getting there. Repeat this goal every morning and every evening, and you will remain motivated.
More examples of specific and measurable goals are:
‘I will complete a 5km run on the treadmill in X minutes by the end of August.’
‘I will lose 6lbs by the end of next month.’
An accountability partner
When you have set a clear and precise goal that can be measured, it is powerful to repeat the goal to yourself. It becomes even more powerful when you repeat this goal to someone else. Saying it out loud to another person makes it more real. Keeping your goal to yourself just isn’t as effective.
The trouble with exercising at home is that you don’t have a training partner. This is one of the best ways to make sure you don’t miss a workout at the gym. You don’t want to let your partner down, and this acts as a motivator to show up for a workout. When I used to go to the gym regularly, my gym partner and I used to joke that neither of us wanted to be there, but neither of us wanted to let the other down by not showing up! Funny how that works.
Now, when your workout routine consists of running on the treadmill at home, a gym partner is not really an option. But you can still have an accountability partner. A term that was coined in the motivational speaking world, it can work wonders if you have another person to account your actions to. It can be your sister, a friend or perhaps your better half. The important thing is this person must check in on you to make sure you are doing what you said you will do.
It works well if you have someone that has similar goals in mind. A little bit of healthy competition can really help with the motivation on those days you don’t want to train. The fact that you told someone when you were going to run, just makes it so much harder to pass up on a workout session.
Your mind can play funny tricks on you. An excuse that you tell yourself might sound good enough to skip a workout, but when you say it out loud to an accountability partner, you will feel silly. Being accountable to someone is very powerful.
Don’t break the chain
One of the toughest things to do, and even more so for working mos, is to form a new habit. Starting something new, and sticking with it can be very challenging. Making time for exercise when you have had a long day, can seem near impossible.
Famous comedian Jerry Seinfeld is known for his work ethic and his drive. When asked what his secret was to being so successful, he revealed a technique he likes to call ‘don’t break the chain’.
For this technique, Seinfeld recommends you get a large wall calendar and a red magic marker. Put the calendar somewhere you can’t miss it. For every day that you run on the treadmill, mark a big red X against the date.
Just keep doing your daily treadmill routine, and keep marking those X’s. Soon you will have formed a chain, and each day this chain will grow longer. You will like seeing this chain grow, and once you have a few weeks completed, you will be very motivated to not break the chain.
Then your only responsibility becomes to keep the chain going. This simple technique is incredibly powerful. It is based on the principle that success in any endeavor comes because of repeated daily action.
Earlier this year I started using this technique to form some new morning habits, and I managed to get one chain up to 41 days. It felt incredibly good. At the same time, it was very disappointing when I eventually broke that chain. Once you break a chain that was going for a while, it can be tough to get going again. If you reach this point, it might be time to whip out your before pictures.
Taking before pictures and measurements
This might not work for everyone, but it can be very powerful for some. Take pictures of yourself in front of a mirror before you start with your treadmill program. You can also take measurements, whether that be weight or waist size. This gives you something to look back at, and to show you how far you have come.
I will just add that with any training program, it might take 6-8 weeks to really start seeing results. So for those first 6 weeks of starting a new treadmill program, you might want to use some of the other methods to remain motivated.
Once you start seeing those results, it can be incredibly motivating to look back at where you started. It is hard to notice your body changing before your eyes, and that is where having before pictures and measurements will help you see more clearly the gains you are making.
Getting enough rest
This can be a tough one for working moms. It feels like you can’t ever get enough rest between all the homework, cooking and cleaning, not to mention the looming deadlines at work. Any training plan requires your body to get enough sleep. This helps with recovery after a run, and will help you get up each morning in the right mood.
A well-rested body makes motivation so much easier. If you are getting less than 6.5 hours of sleep every evening, you must make some changes to your routine. Motivating yourself to exercise when tired is near impossible, and you want to avoid falling into this trap.
Finding the right time to exercise
For busy working moms it might sound impossible to find the ‘right time’ for exercise. There never seems to be a right time for anything, as the little ones always have an emergency at any given time. Interruptions can make it very tough to remain motivated.
You need to set a fixed time for your workout routine. If you are a morning person, getting up 30mins before the kids means you have a great chance of running without interruptions. If you have a small baby, or you are just not a morning person, it might work better to set your workout time for after the little one has gone to bed at night.
Either way, make sure your better half knows that this 30 minute window is for running and running alone. Your partner should support you in your quest to become fit, and their help will be crucial in you remaining motivated. In the same way an accountability partner works, your better half will expect you to train at these set times, and that will give you an added bit of motivation to complete that workout.
I am actively using all of the above tips to make sure I remain motivated to exercise. I am confident that these methods will help you to get motivated to run on the treadmill when you don’t feel up for it.
One final tip, make sure to reward yourself regularly for your running efforts. After every workout, take a moment and tell yourself that you have just gotten a little closer to your goal. At the end of the week, treat yourself with a little something (my indulgence is a decadent cappuccino with foam, no sugar though). This will keep you motivated when you just don’t feel like training.
I hope you can implement some of these ideas, and that it will help you get to where you want to be.