Motivation: The Struggle is Real

On paper, it looks like I’ve had some awesome workouts in the past few days. On Thursday night, I climbed a 51-story building four times…


…and then, less than 48 hours later, I climbed a 46-story building three times.


That’s 342 stories combined! Not too shabby.

I’m proud of that number, but I’m writing this post to share that, despite that pride, this past week has been really tough.

I’m coming off a foot injury, so I didn’t work out at all between August 30th and September 5th, as it healed. (It’s fine now, feels great, even after those stair workouts!) What happens during a forced exercise hiatus like that one is that during the first two or three days, I’m really antsy and frustrated that I can’t work out.

Then, some switch in my head flips, and the frustration gets replaced with a sense of relief that I don’t have to exercise. Maybe relief isn’t the best word, but I find that I’m reminding myself that hey – NOT working out is SO MUCH EASIER than working out. I spent huge stretches in my life NOT working out, and that meant… more time watching television… putzing around online… or eating.

I know I can’t wax nostalgic at the times in my life when I wasn’t exercising, because I was 160 pounds heavier, and in all likelihood heading towards a plethora of health problems. I don’t ever want to be that size again. But I guess I have ingrained memories of my couch potato days, and they’re fond memories. Of course they are! Lounging around is easy. Watching TV is fun. It requires no thought or energy, and I get to live vicariously through the stories and events on the screen. And I just had a week where I was doing exactly that… with a foot submersed in a bucket of ice water. I remembered that this is a way that I could live… and that I have lived in the past.

Now I’ve having a hard time shaking that memory. The thought of exercising is instantly accompanied by the sad trombones that play when people lose on game shows. I sigh a lot. I procrastinate.

But I fight it. I schedule my workouts like they’re appointments, and I make myself execute them. I show up. They’re not all holy cow workouts like the ones in the stairwells, but they’re workouts. Last Wednesday, all I could muster was a walk, but I made myself go, and ended up walking for 57 minutes. On Friday, the original plan was to workout at home with my Bowflex equipment, which I do all the time, but even that seemed daunting, so I replaced it with 45 minutes on the exercise bike, flipping through a magazine, so I could distract my mind from my misery.

What’s compounding the situation is that the stair workouts were really mediocre. I was really struggling. It was disappointing that I only took one week off, and yet it seemed like all my training went out the window. It felt like Day 1 on the stairs, and I hated it.

Ultimately, I know the motivation will return. I know I’m happiest when I’m exercising. I know there’s really wonderful mental and emotional effects to exercise that influence all parts of my life, even if I haven’t been seeing them this week.

So what else can I do but continue to show up? I HAVE TO KEEP WORKING OUT. There are times where every part of my body is pleading with me to skip my workout, and I can’t give in. I can’t give power to that voice. I have to keep going.

And scheduling really does help. I know what I’ll be doing Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of this week, and I will stick to it. (Wednesday is a planned rest day; I will have worked out 8 days in a row at that point.)

I’ve worked too hard and too long to throw in the towel now.

Plus, the first thing I shared in this post is extraordinary. I climbed 342 stories in two workouts, while feeling shitty and uninspired. If that’s what I can do during a bad stretch, imagine what I can do during a good one!

Keep it up, David!


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4 Responses to Motivation: The Struggle is Real

  1. chrisincal says:

    David, I was thinking the other day, but didn’t want to write this. Especially because you haven’t been really explicit with your injuries. I’m assuming their are ‘stress’ and ‘over use’ elements of your recent health issues. If you dropped 10% of yourself…down to 226 or so, it would significantly reduce impact and over use/stress on your lower extremities….it would be a good experiment if nothing else…do your climb times, and your injuries both get reduced.

    I happy to hear you are recuperated and back at it. Keep it up!

    • David says:

      Thanks for the note! I’m sure there’s an overuse element at play as well. I’d love to get down to 226. I’ve never been that low, and I’m sure it would have wonderful benefits in a lot of arenas. All I can say is that I’m trying! (I’ve been trying for a loooooong time.) Hope you’re doing well and KEEP IT UP!

  2. Catherine says:

    I hear ya. I’ve caught a cold and the last thing I want to do is workout. So I took a few days off and I really don’t want to workout tonight, but I’ve got one written down that’s relatively easy and that I’ve done a 100 times, but still. UGH!

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