Hamster Wheel

Miss a workout. Get discouraged. Lose motivation. Repeat.

I’ve been on this “workout hamster wheel” many times in my life. It is self-defeating and pointless. And when I’m on the wheel, getting off feels insurmountable.

Being on the wheel changes my perspective on everything. Problems feel bigger. I feel less capable. I hate the clothes in my closet. And my fun-house mirrors become much more effective.

Ironically, I’ve successfully ditched the wheel before. Circumstances were different then, but getting off was just as tough. Along the way, though, I discovered a new cycle: Do a workout. Feel great. Look great. Repeat.

I assume you’re asking yourself why someone would possibly choose door #1 when door #2 is obviously the better choice. The answer is that exercise is mental as much as it’s physical. It’s a psychological battle to force yourself to do something you don’t want to do. When you win the battle, the payoff is huge. Aside from the obvious physical benefits, you enjoy an endorphin boost, and the knowledge that you prevailed in the battle of wills.

I share this because I find myself standing before both doors. Having enjoyed the benefits of door #2, I hear door #1 calling me. But I know that door #1 comes with a very high price tag for me and my family. I have chosen door #1 for almost three months now, and the price tag is finally approaching the “too expensive” threshold. The difficulty is that the more times you choose #1, the easier it is to keep choosing it. And the lure of door #1 is much stronger when your frame of mind is negative.

So just for today, I will make it my goal to put on my workout clothes and workout for 5 minutes. At the end of 5 minutes, if I’m still miserable, I’ll re-evaluate my plan. If, as I suspect, I find myself feeling better, I’ll finish the workout. And then I’ll have the benefit of a small victory that I can build on tomorrow, when I face the same choice again.

I’ll use strategies like putting on workout clothes as soon as I get out of bed or finding a workout partner if they help me succeed. I’ll do my best to choose door #2 every day. And on those days when my workout isn’t as strenuous or as long as it could be, I’ll give myself credit for having chosen door #2. I’ll realize going into this that there will be days that door #2 isn’t in the cards, and I won’t brow-beat myself, because doing so will give door #1 more influence the next day. And when I need one last push, I’ll remember this:

Because yesterday you said tomorrow.

12 thoughts on “Hamster Wheel

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  1. I find that door #2 is always easier when you LIKE what you are doing. I’ve heard it said a thousand times…find something you like, then do it. So why didn’t I listen until about 8 months ago? Hang in there girl. You look great. And you are worth too much to the people who love to take door #1.

    1. How right you are about finding something you like Amy. Sadly, Crossfit gym is an hour away, and my favorite workout involves a swimming pool… 😦 Nevertheless, I was able to “git ‘er done” today! Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. right now i have been really LOVING door #2 and I think its cuz on the days that I standing looking at both doors and the wind blows open and sucks me into #1 I don’t beat myself up just like you said. And I know that every 4th week I get to not even have a door #2 choice and have a rest week it really really REALLY helps me to keep on going through #2! And i also have a WONDERFUL group and we are each others cheerleaders!

  3. You said a mouthful, Shannon…the constant battle between good and evil. lol I DO like that 3 weeks on, 1 week off technique – thanks Kim, I’ll try that! It’s the same psychology that several of the programs like Body for Life, etc. have by having 1 cheat day a week, but I never really thought about it for working out!

    For the cheat day, you can’t wait for it to get here – but after you’ve eaten like a pig you feel terrible – and so you’re anxious to eat well for the next few days, which gets you through – and then you’re ready for that cheat day again. 🙂

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