Back to the Gym

I invented a new term today. It’s called Compound Motivation. You can guess what that phrase means, but I am going to tell you right now anyways. So don’t try too hard. This term describes something I have certainly felt before. However, yesterday I experienced the true power of what this term describes. Compound Motivation is when you experience small victories every day, and those victories stack on top of each other to motivate you to keep pushing forward toward your goals. To put this into perspective, I will briefly describe the events that led up to yesterday.

This Christmas, Amanda got me a heart rate monitor, which is something I had wanted for quite a while. I have always been fascinated with the human heart, and I know that heart rate (during a workout and during rest) is an important measure of overall fitness. So I wanted to know my heart rate at the gym, and use that as a measuring stick for my progress.

-Ever get out of breath just walking up the stairs?-

The problem for me was that I allowed myself to fall into the trap of the “holiday season” (bad excuse!), and my fitness stalled. I believe I wrote a post about gaining 5 lbs during that time. Yeah yeah, I know. Weight isn’t the only measuring stick. But I am constantly working on getting my head around that too. So gimme a break.

-Poor guy!-

So after the holiday season, I spent the month of January going to the gym about once or twice a week. I still saw progress with my weight and my appearance, because I was concentrating more on paleo. But that was my problem. I didn’t harness the full power of paleo because I wasn’t really going to the gym. So then February rolled around. On February 15 I used my heart rate monitor for the first time. I recorded my maximum heart rate on the treadmill, and also during the weight/strength training part. A few days later I was back at the gym, and my progress was quite minimal. But I wasn’t expecting much, since I have had lots of “breaks” from the gym before and during those times my progress sucked too. So a few days after that I was at the gym again, and I started feeling better. During my treadmill session, I noticed that my max heart rate had decreased significantly, and that was huge for me. And although I didn’t make any specific big improvements, I also felt better in general. And this is where my Compound Motivation comes in.

-Don’t post to facebook about your workout. Ever!-

During my next session at the gym, I was sore. I was sore from my last work out, but I was still going to the gym. Being sore motivates me. It lets me know that what I am doing is working (See? There is something other than weight loss that motivates me!). The first 5 minutes on the treadmill were painful. But then all of the sudden the pain went away and I had more and more energy. And then I ended up having one of the best workouts of my life. So I went again the next day. I set a personal record, which is something I always try to do at least once every session. After three awesome workouts in 5 days, I felt better than I had in months. The next day, going to the gym became a natural part of my routine. It was no longer a question of whether or not I was going to go. It was a question of “how am I going to fit everything else around my gym time?” And that feeling was a result of Compound Motivation.

After the first workout, I felt tired but happy that I did it. And then after each successive workout, I began to feel better and better… and even more motivated. I have always said that the most important thing you need when becoming healthier is making your workouts part of your routine. It absolutely HAS to be built into your day. Everything else needs to be at the mercy of your gym time. Do your friends want to meet after work for a drink? Sure. But you’ll be there after the gym. Do you need to make supper for the kids? Sure. But they can play Xbox until you get home, and eat cookies in the meantime (paleo cookies).

-What happens when mom and dad are at the gym-

The point is that the gym has to be a given. It has to become normal, just like eating and sleeping. And the best way to achieve that is to just be consistent for a few weeks. I’ve heard that it takes two weeks to develop a habit, and I think the gym is no different. The thing you have to be careful about is the fact that this idea works the opposite way as well. If you become lazy for a week or two, the motivation will exponentially diminish. That sounds extreme, but I have experienced it numerous times. I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum, and the lazy end is much more difficult to escape from. You start to justify your laziness, making excuses for yourself like “I’ll start on Monday” or “I’ll start on February 1st”, and the list goes on. For as simple as I feel it is to build a healthy habit, I truly believe that an unhealthy habit is even easier to build.
-Do not embrace her!-

But I promise you that after a couple weeks of working out, you will start to WANT the gym. You will begin to crave that bastard. It will become a strange relationship where you will want to feel the pain it gives you. And if you keep at it, you will seriously miss the pain. And THAT is where you want to be. To get there, you just need to concentrate on the positive things that happen during and after every single workout. Because they stack on each other, and motivation builds and builds like compound interest. Today I didn’t work out, and it felt weird. It felt strange. And guess what? That gave me even more motivation to get my ass back to the gym tomorrow. And that has always been my goal. Take those small victories and let them build on each other, and keep moving forward. You will get there!
“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t”
-Rikki Rogers

4 thoughts on “Back to the Gym

  1. Aha! Now maybe you understand my obsession with exercise? Because it makes you feel good and once it becomes a habit, you feel yucky if you don’t do it!


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