One bad decision led to another. On a Wednesday evening, I stopped to get a pre-workout snack. Well, I'll come clean. It was a burrito. I don't know about you, but for me, a burrito is not "fast food." I like to suck out the guts as I go, because it leaves me flavor bombs of tortilla. This process takes time, or it can get messy. (It's actually usually messy anyway.)
By the time I finished, it was rush hour at the gym. Parking in San Francisco is a disaster at any time of day, but finding a spot between 5 and 8pm usually requires circling around for longer than my workout takes.
My parking lot sojourn wasn't without hope though. On at least one occasion I was sure I had a spot. Only to realize someone wasn't actually leaving, they were just having a Daft Punk dance party. Which, honestly, I can't blame them.
But still, it was fairly obvious I was going to need a distance between myself and the gym, and I just wasn't having that. Because that would count for cardio, and we all know that cardio kills gains.
So what's one to do in a situation like this? Well, I would love to tell you I sucked it up and found a parking spot in another zip code.
But we have a relationship built on trust, and I'd hate to lie to you.
What I actually did was go home and watch Game of Thrones.
One thing that you should know about me is that I'm really good at making excuses when I don't want to do something. I've skipped workouts on more than one occasion because I didn't want to spend time looking for a parking space during rush hour. In college, when I had a paper due, I could guarantee you that my house would be clean by the time I finished it.
So with a big task, whether it's writing a paper, losing weight, or any other long term goal you've got in mind, is motivation the key to consistency or is consistency the key to motivation? And when your brain feels like it's fighting you every step of the way, how on earth do you stay motivated?
In my experiences with learning languages, learning the violin, and changing my body, I've found that action precedes motivation.
I never felt this magic burst of motivation and then all of a sudden been compelled to practice for hours, work out all the time, and cook at home instead of ordering burritos and watching cartoons all night (which I swear I've never done—maybe). Yes, I've started things because I felt motivated, and I've made grand plans to finish them in my head, but that feeling has never stuck around.
All this means is you need another plan. "I'll do it when I have more time" isn't a plan, because that means you're relying on the Time Fairy to come down and grant you more hours in the day with her sparkly Time Wand. Get out your schedule, and block it out yourself. What days are you going to work out this week? When are you going to hit the grocery store and what do you need to make some killer meals this week?
Once you have it down in your schedule, it can't be an option. You must complete the task. Expect that your brain will try to back out and prepare for that future debate with yourself. When your alarm goes off at 6am and you don't want to get out of bed and go to the gym, how will you argue on the side of your success?
After a few weeks of sticking to a disciplined routine, you'll start seeing the benefits of all your hard work, and then you'll begin to feel motivated. Seeing your belly shrinking, waking up with more energy, and consistently beating your own personal records in the gym—that's where the motivation comes from—but only after you take action.