“People says motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily”.

Zig Zeigler

As I wrote previously, humans are geared to find the path of least resistance. I surmised this wasn’t a judgement on people being lazy but more a byproduct of how we are wired genetically. Basically, over long courses of time it’s been found to be beneficial to our basic survival to find the most efficient route to get somewhere or get something done.
This translates to exercise or the lack thereof because it takes an extra effort both mentally and physically to adopt and maintain a vigorous exercise regimen to keep ourselves in good mental and physical condition. So, what do you do to overcome the lack of motivation or a severe mental block that interrupts your workout schedule?…… That metaphorical redwood tree that’s fallen across our fitness path…
Motivational roadblocks in our society are viewed far differently than having sustained an injury. Both can be equally damaging to our workout routine. If I happen to rupture my Achilles’ tendon, sprain my ankle running, or require knee surgery after I jump onto a 40 inch plyo box, these physical injuries are more readily accepted by my peers, fellow trainers and myself, and are seen as something that just happened physically and can be fixed with treatment, medicine and time.
With a mental block, or motivational lapse, you’ve somehow experienced a deep dropoff in motivation and or desire to workout. This scenario is perceived in an entirely different manner. It may have been caused by a life event or due to other circumstances entirely. There may be confusion both internally and externally with our friends, family and trainers and ourselves. There can be a stigma surrounding a mental block that many people have a very hard time understanding let alone crafting a compassionate response. You may hear, “What is wrong with them?” …. “Why don’t they just get back to the gym already??!!”
Many people, good intentions aside, simply do not have the depth of skill to understand what is happening within another’s mind or personal situation.
It’s all too easy to become overly frustrated with yourself as you scratch and claw for a definition behind your lack of drive. Many of us are programmed to be fairly hard on ourselves which can result in a sense of guilt or shame exacerbating the situation. We blame ourselves for dropping out for awhile instead of giving ourselves the space and time we need to process and understand why this has happened. In a previous blog of mine concerning centrifugal force I opined that everything around us is ever spinning in cyclical fashion. Maybe we can choose to see that our workout routines are cyclical as well… Would it be reasonable to expect ourselves to do the same workout at the same intensity every day, every week, every year?? No, our mind and our bodies eventually need downtime for rest and recovery periods within a week, a month or a year. If we chose instead to view any extended period of time where we don’t workout at all or dramatically reduce our workout load as ‘rest’ or ‘recovery’ instead of ‘laziness’ we are making a healthier emotional choice and we are removing the shame, blame and guilt that comes with it. Wouldn’t that be dramatically more healthy and effective mentally? We could choose to see that our issue may just be cyclical, possibly linked to our biorhythmic patterns, and try giving ourselves compassion and some time off. We may be better able to deal with our metaphorical fallen tree across our exercise path and get up and ‘running’ again sooner.
It can be exceedingly difficult to define what exactly snaps us out of our funk and we may never know what actually works. At some point your brain may come to a ‘jumping off’ point and a choice is finally made; “I need to get back in motion to become myself again!” This may take as little as a week a month or even an entire year. Everyone is different.

From my personal experience I had a severe motivational lapse that spanned nearly a year. I lost my position as a bootcamp instructor at a local gym. I was saddened and confused by what happened and ultimately found myself depressed and irritated afterward for a good length of time! I wanted to go back to instructing again and working out. Although I was able to establish a limited workout routine again, I had a very difficult time motivating myself regularily. I also had a hard time tackling the idea of teaching classes again despite several invitations to instruct bootcamp again at several local gyms. I was the victim of an unexplainable mental block! I felt shame and guilt and ended up blaming myself for what had happened. It left me confused and depressed for most of a year… I was utterly lost at how to get back on that proverbial horse and was probably even afraid to try again! Luckily, I have some very loving supportive and understanding friends and family that persistently and gently nudged me in the right direction. I finally reached that ‘jumping off’ point after taking a long time to assess myself, think it through, and finally remove the shame, guilt and blame from my situation. I made the decision to get myself moving again! It’s been four and a half months and I’m thrilled to be teaching bootcamp again and am working out at my old pace again! I’m beginning to feel like my old self again and am getting stronger every day. Everything ended up turning out far better than I imagined. In the thick of it all I wasn’t sure if I would ever get back to where I wanted to be. But thanks to the healing power of time and lots of support and love around me I was able to find my way.

There doesn’t seem to be any one simple answer to ‘curing’ yourself when this happens, but I’m here to say don’t give up hope or give up on yourself, somehow, some way your best days might still be ahead of you. In the end giving yourself credit for being a human, accepting your faults, and taking the shame, guilt and self blame out of the equation will help you get back to your old self more quickly. Everything goes in cycles, learning to define where you are in the current one while giving yourself credit for what you’ve accomplished thus far is the key to beginning the next cycle. I can’t say I won’t ever go through this again, but having experienced it so profoundly last time has given me the gift of experience and the mental tools to better deal with the next lapse of motivation. Remembering that You are stronger than you think you are and giving yourself time and credit for being human will help. I’ll see you back at the gym when you’re ready!


  1. sarah V. says:

    I agree, everything moves in cycles. removing those shackles of self blame and guilt was my personal starting point. It led me to Elite and then back to my self, my strong , human self!
    Proud to be member of Elite family.
    Thank you for sharing this.
    I do believe my best days are still ahead of me!

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