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Motivation Hides in Plain Sight

Color photo of page 6 and 7 in Cycling West summer 2019 issue.
A serendipitous answer to my “moments-ago” question about my current state of motivation…or lack thereof. Cycling West’s summer 2019 issue, pages 6 & 7.

Last month, I fulfilled a long-held goal of successfully participating in the 2019 National Senior Games. The goal I set for my cycling and race walk events was to be fit and strong enough to:

  • make it to the start line injury-free,
  • maintain a strong and consistent pace throughout each race,
  • recover sufficiently so I could also watch, report, photograph, and video record events, AND
  • not get sick with a summer cold.

Because of this kind of goal and not being focused on competing for medals or ribbons, I had a fabulous experience…so much so, I want to qualify again for the next National Senior Games in 2021!

So why have I felt the distinct lack of motivation to get fully back into “training mode”? Ahh, I ask myself the darnedest questions!

Taking time off from training is a leading cause of motivation loss. First, I had a a couple preventive health procedures to do after the Games. The one that required removal of more skin to test for “atypical” cells from an odd mole with a questionable future from my shoulder required stitches and a three-week healing window.

That meant no pool running. No race walk workouts with brisk arm swings. No strength training or lifting weights. No forward lean on the indoor bike trainer. No bike rides. No crunches or bridges. No fun!

Secondly, as summer temperatures rise here in the Las Vegas valley and the St. George, Utah region, my body just wants to find a block of ice to hide under until around Halloween.

So with stitches removed and a blessing to return to training, I did go for a short walk before dawn the next morning, followed by easy pedaling on the indoor bike trainer the next day. On the third day, I looked at my weights and said, “Yeah, gotta do that.” and went on my merry way.

The blahs had taken hold.

A couple days later while mulling over my growing indifference (and ignoring both the indoor bike trainer and the 110-degree reading on the shaded patio thermometer), I opened up the latest issue of Cycling West (Summer 2019). There, I discovered the most timely of articles AND printed ads — two pieces of side-by-side content that lifted me from my punky-funky mood.

Elite cyclist and coach Sarah Kaufmann wrote about finding the motivation to start training again after being off the bike for awhile (i.e. injury, life’s demands), and to work from your current fitness level (not where you left off).

Adjacent to her article on page six is a full-page color ad for the 2019 Huntsman World Senior Games’ cycling, mountain biking, and triathlon events. I felt the joyful tingle of “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, can’t wait!” immediately followed by “I want to sign up for everything!”.

Right there: motivation rekindled!

But what really sparked my spirit were six little words in Sarah’s article at the bottom of the first column. My brain read them but my little voice came up with the rest:

“Once you are being honest about…” why you’re not motivated, then you’ll have your answer.

Bonnie’s little voice

Flashing to mind was a question my coach kept asking me during the lead up to the National Senior Games as work and life demands all-too-often conflicted with the day’s training plan:

” HMDYWT? How much do you want this?”

Coach Melodie Cronenberg | T3 Triathlon, Sports & Fitness – Las Vegas, NV

Another darn question! A question that could mean different things to different people. To me, “HMDYWT?” challenges my level of commitment, asking how passionate I am about that goal, and if I’m willing to do what(ever) it takes to achieve it. The hotter the desire, the less chance I’d let life and people distract or derail my efforts.

For my personality, however, “burning desire” is an intense, obsessive, possessive, all-consuming, and laser-focused state of being that angrily lashes out at the annoying distractions caused by the outside world, people and fur babies — no matter how much I love them.

That “HMDYWT?” fuels the competitive banshee and its evil sister known as the inner critic to sneer at me and screech, “You’re too fat! You’re slower than a sloth and just as lazy! You? An athlete? Who are you kidding? <cue the maniacal laughter>!”

Yeah, I’ve really thought those things. Felt that fire. I’ve been burned. Badly. It’s ugly. It’s painful. It’s not fun!

So, is it any wonder why “HMDYWT?” asks hard questions like:

  • How much do I want to improve my speed?
  • How much do I want to get stronger?
  • How much do I want to increase my stamina?
  • How much do I want to lose 5, 10 or 20 pounds?
  • How much do I want to stay fit and healthy?
  • How much flexibility am I willing to have between my training and life’s demands?

If I don’t achieve those results — no matter the valid or vapid reasons — I feel really bad (have I mentioned I’m a recovering/relapsing perfectionist?) and no longer motivated to even try.

So instead, I answer “HMDYWT” with “I’m totally fine with whatever outcome happens, because I know I did my best in balancing training and my responsibilities.” Yeah, really. It is my philosophy.

But it’s not the root reason behind my little voice’s “Once you are being honest about…” why you’re not motivated, then you’ll have your answer.

I know the answer. It’s the reason I keep doing this fitness thing, signing up for races, and riding my bike. This question is the answer:

  • “When do I want to have some fun?”

Enjoying the effort — as well as the journey — I believe, is crucial to achieving set goals whether it’s to lose weight, get faster, become fitter. The effort is hard. Sweat happens. There will always be distractions and set backs.

But if I don’t enjoy what I’m doing, I ain’t gonna keep doing it. I think that’s true for all humans. I just have to remind myself of this mindset so I can pick up where I left off (mindful of my present level of fitness).

So please excuse me while I wrap up this post. I want to go have some fun, and be happy for awhile on my indoor bike trainer set up in a very cool room!

About Bonnie Parrish-Kell

Publisher & Chief Diva here at Slowpoke Divas. I always feel better after a good workout or race...no matter how sore I am afterwards. Tweet me @bparrishkell or @slowpokedivas. Instagram: @slowpokedivas