So, I've been pretty unmotivated/discouraged to train lately. There were some practical issues that got in the way for a while, and now I struggle with what were my warmup weights when I get under the bar. I think about all the work I put in, and, you know, just get discouraged and stop showing up. Have you ever had to work through that? If anyone has some secret sauce, I figured it'd be you :)
I received this email from a friend who I had previously programmed and coached for about feeling unmotivated and trying to get back into the swing of things after a lay off. It was timely because I have actually been doing a lot of thinking about motivation in general lately and have even had some conversations with various people about it.
It seems we all have periods where we lack motivation- doesn't matter if you are an elite athlete or just an average Joe trying to better yourself inside the gym and out. I don't think anyone is immune to low's. I've been there multiple time throughout my life whether I was playing softball at the Collegiate or Professional level, Doing CrossFit in my post Softball life, or now in my life as a weightlifter. But what I've learned from all of my various athletic endeavors, and have to remind myself from time to time, is that slumps are temporary.
Even though it can be hard to feel like you are starting over there are a couple of things to remember: A). You already know what you have to do unlike many people out there shooting in the dark or following the latest issue of Fitness RX. And B). If you've been in a good place athletically or fitness wise before you will likely have enough experience and muscle memory to help bounce you back faster than it took you the first time.
As for a secret sauce? I wish I had one. But I think it's different for everyone. Sometimes I reflect back on my journey and how all the twists and turns in my life lead me to where I am today. I grew up in a very blue collar family. My dad, who couldn't make a enough of a living as a potter to take care of his family, worked in the oil fields and when he got laid off he became a truck driver. My mom was a courier for Fed Ex for 20 years. Both were very unhappy in their jobs but did what they had to do to take care of us girls. The most joy I ever saw in them was the pride they had when they saw my sister or I having success or achieving things that they never had the chance to. I think that's really where my motivation came from in the beginning.
HARD WORK AND RESULTS
My dad taught me to work hard. Really hard. My mom taught me to have the type of passion that no one can get in the way of. So when I told them at the age of 10 that I wanted to play softball in college they held me to it. It didn't matter that everyone said I was too small to be a great pitcher, I wasn't going to accept that. It didn't matter if it was a holiday or my birthday or vacation the practice and the work was going to get done. So when the motivation lacked, my parent were there instill it in me. I lucked out big time in that regard.
Fast forward a number of years and I am a Div I, full scholarship athlete playing softball at the number one university in the nation UC Berkeley. So basically I am getting paid to play softball and get an education. Playing softball at Berkeley was my first experience being on a barbell. We had a fantastic strength & conditioning program which incorporated the lifts (Snatch/CJ and of course Olympic Squats) into our training. You wanna know what's funny? As a freshman I didn't understand why I had to be doing this. First, there was the fact that I did NOT want to get "bulky." Also, it was hard. All this stuff about having to squat deep, push my knees out, keep my weight on my heels- it was awful. I didn't understand how it was going to make me a better softball player. I spent (waisted) my first year trudging through the workouts, looking more forward to the evening when I could go down to Telegraph Ave with my girlfriends to sit on the tailgate of my truck and eat buckets of chili cheese fries from IB Hoagies.
Don't get me wrong, I was still motived and worked very hard on the field. I just didn't get the connection between the weight room, nutrition, sleep, and the softball field.
It's not surprising then that I started to balloon up. I gained 10lbs of fat, then another 5. I hated how I looked and felt. It must be the weightlifting right? Ok, ok, maybe the chili fries played a part too. But I started to realize that I needed to do something about it. Here's where it gets ridiculous. I'm a Div I athlete with access to the best strength & conditioning program/coaches around (one of which suggested I clean up my diet) and I'm in my dorm room eating lean cuisines and doing Tai Bo to Billy Blanks so I can start losing some weight. Jesus, that's embarrassing. Needless to say, it didn't work.
The next time I weighed in (we were required to weigh in a few times per year) I was at a whopping 170lbs (I'm 5'4" by the way). This is where the story, and my life, turns. I was so devastated I decided right then and there that things were going to change.
I had been hearing buzz about eating high protein low carb. All I had to go on was this Atkins guy everyone was talking about so I headed down to the bookstore to buy his book. Fate was on my side that day because they did NOT have any more copies of Atkins. However, they did have a book written by Dr. Eades called Protein Power Life Plan. I grabbed it and read it cover to cover. It made so much sense to me. I could eat tons of protein- even red meat! And fat, lot's of it! Without excess carbs/sugar I would start using fat for fuel. He even talked about the importance of lifting heavy weights and training anaerobically so essentially I could avoid the thing I hated the most- long distance running. (To this day I still think Dr. Eades is the man and browse his site from time to time www.proteinpower.com.) So I adopted the diet and decided that I was going to hit the weights with a vengeance. Heavy ones.
My life started to change almost immediately and the lifestyle change had a major domino effect in everything I did. I started to get lean and grow muscles- the good kind- and I didn't even grow a mustache or anything. I started to sleep better. I got stronger, happier, confident. And, of course, I started to kick major ass on the softball field- striking bitches out (1,203 to be exact), makings All American, winning a NCAA Championship and MVP.
I need to wrap this story up because I could go on forever about it and I'm already forgetting the point of I what I was trying to say. Ah the point. Well, I discovered that lifting heavy weights and eating a clean high protein diet was the coolest, most life changing thing I had ever done. I was in love. So much that I stayed at Cal to be a Grad Assistant Strength Coach and then later started my own gym in Santa Cruz. I guess what I'm trying to say is that one of the biggest things that motivates me is RESULTS. I'm not a softball player anymore, I'm a weightlifter but the results are still what motivate me. I feel so empowered when I work hard in the gym and finally hit that 145kg/320lb B.Squat or that 107kg Clean & Jerk. It makes me excited and hungry for the future. It's like, if I can hit 107, I can hit 110. If I can hit 110, I can hit 120!
LIFE IS SHORT
Last night my husband Kyle's grandpa passed away. He was 86. I only had the pleasure of meeting him once but he was a really cool guy. Always happy, could make anyone laugh. "Happy Harold" is what they called him. He is the topic of conversation at many family dinners, the stories always funny and warm. When Kyle and I were laying together having just gotten the news I started to think about how life passes by so fast. You don't think about it that much- you just race through it, taking care of your responsibilities. I started to think, "I'm already 32 years old. I feel like I was just born yesterday. But 32 years have already passed." That's over three decades. The next time I blink I'm going to be 60. And then 90, if I live that long. I've had these thoughts at points throughout my life, as I'm no stranger to death (my sister died when I was in college- she would have been 36 this year). I don't mean to be all morbid or anything but the constant re-realization that life is so short is also a major motivational factor for me. I don't want to waist it away being regular -playing video games all day or working in a cubicle at a miserable job and hanging out at the bars on Saturday night. I want to do something unique and powerful- something that makes me feel accomplished in myself and something that allows me to give back to others as well.
NAY SAYERS, HATERS
When I was a softball player everyone told me I was too small to be a pitcher. When I was a CrossFitter everyone told me I was too big. Now that I'm a weightlifter everyone says I'm too old. To the nay sayers and haters I say thank you. You have always fueled my fire and supplied me with all the motivation I needed to top off my stores and prove you wrong.
BEING A ROLL MODEL
I feel like it's my duty to be a role model, especially for young girls and women. I do, after all, own a gym, give pitching lessons to kids and coach the Santa Cruz High Softball team. We live in a world where skinny, flawless, airbrushed chicks are on the covers of every magazine. It's impossible to make it 5 min without advertisements us telling us we need to be prettier, skinnier, have nicer hair, and nails, and skin; That we need to behave a certain way to be desirable to men or to be considered a lady. Well I think it's horse shit and quite frankly I am quite confident in being a strong, athletic, outspoken, goofy, far from perfect girl. Sometimes when I feel my motivation lacking I remind myself how good it makes me feel when I see that attitude rub off on the girls around me.
GOALS AND BIG DREAMS
This is probably the biggest motivational factor for me and probably for most people. You have to have goals. Maybe even big crazy dreams- the kind that are so big you're almost afraid to say it out loud because someone might laugh at you. I was talking to my friend/fellow weightlifter at the American Open this past weekend telling her how bad I wanted to win. I was going on about what I wanted to accomplish and she says to me, "wow, your goals are so different than mine." She explained that she just had some numbers in her head that she eventually wanted to hit and that would make her happy. And that's thing- everyones goals can and will be different- they can be big or small. Once upon a time my goal was simply to be able to snatch with the 45's on the bar (that's 123 lbs on a women's bar). But having that goal, although unfathomable at the time, lead me to snatching with 45's, 25's, 5's, and 2.5's (That's 188 lbs on a women's bar:) I think the important thing is to actually spend time determining what your goals are. Write them down in your journal. Have 3 month, 6 month, 1 year goals and ultimate/all time goals. Otherwise, what are you actually training for?
Wow my legs are wrecked from this new base training cycle- squats, squats, and more squats. Classic lifts will be itty bitty for a few weeks. Gotta get my mind right!