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  • Writer's pictureRita Winthrop

Staying Motivated + Surviving the Funk

So you want to know how I stay motivated, huh? Every once in awhile I like to throw in there something other than what I am cooking for dinner, and I figured, in the middle of winter, this might be the perfect time to talk about something we all struggle with sometimes. Staying motivated.

For as long as I can remember, I've been an either all or nothing person. I'm either into you, or I'm not, I'm either knees deep in a project or not at all, or I'm either fully invested in my routine, or I've completely given up on it. The hard part about that mentality is that when I'm in it, I'm REALLY into it - like sometimes, I want to eat hummus every single day. Or practice yoga, every chance I get. And then one day, I realize I did too many chaturangas and ate too much hummus and my body says "I'm done." I seem to be fighting that a little bit right now, and here's why.

The last few years I've been finding my balance in my workout routine. I think that this generally is what people mean when they ask about staying motivated, but its so much more than the amount of times you get yourself to the gym. My routine, pretty consistently for the last few years has been 5:30 a.m. wake up, 6:00 a.m. gym for an hour. 7:00 a.m. home to shower, have breakfast and get ready for my day. Work by 8:30 a.m., home by 4:30-ish. Make dinner, prep lunches, do the dishes/cleaning, watch a show and get to bed. And especially when we were buying our house, or through travel season, I made a point to keep to this schedule. And for a while it was working. I found myself lifting heavier, running farther, doing more burpees than I could ever imagine. And I felt good. And then all of a sudden it wasn't. And when I tell you I am in the thick of it right now, I mean it.

And what stopped, I think, was a combination of a few things. The month of February, life exploded a little bit. We left for our honeymoon for a week, followed by returning home to the loss of my father-in-law mixed in with some sucky New England winter, and some personal health stuff (which I'll discuss later) I found myself either not getting to the gym at all, or not pushing myself, and honestly, was just feeling sad and over all of it. I've spent much of my life dealing with anxiety, and for me, finding solace in exercise and self care gets me through those gross times. But here I was, feeling, lost, sad, unmotivated, unenthused about a lot, and not a clue as where to start. So my guess, is that if you've read this far, that this phase, this is where you are.

For the first time though, I allowed myself to feel it. In normal Rita fashion, I would either completely let myself go (that thing I was saying that I'm either into it, or really not.. this would have been the not.) I would have stopped working out, stopped eating healthily, stopped blogging (UGH I KNOW THE TERROR!) and I would have spiraled into this self deprecating and unmotivated space. I would have talked myself out of trying to something different, or that I should keep some things 'normal' and who knows what else. When I get in that space, I give up, on everything. The routine goes out the window. And usually after a few weeks of that, I realize how gross I feel and I get back on track. But its always so hard to go back. I would have rationalized that the honeymoon threw me off, or then that the death of my father-in-law and its impact on my family has me in a funk, or that my body not feeling 100% was the issue. And I would have let those things stop me.

And while yes, they are part of the head space, they are NOT the whole picture. And that at the end of the day, if I'm not motivating myself, in whatever way that means, then that's on me. All of those other things are factors, but cannot be held responsible as the reason I fell off track.

So here's what I did different this time to get me out of this funk:

I owned it. In every sense of the word. If I felt off, I felt off. If I needed to cry, I did. If I was having a kick ass day, I let it shine. Sometimes allowing yourself that moment to be off helps you get back on so much more quickly.

I committed to working out, even if it meant a different routine. My body did not want to be lifting heavy weights. After about 2 years of lifting 4-5 times a week, pretty heavily, my body decided it was done. So I've got to do something different. Normally I'd beat myself up for not hitting weights everyday, I am acknowledging that if I am moving, it counts. I'm focusing on more body weight exercises, trying new routines, incorporating HIIT, going back to yoga to stretch, and letting myself workout at home. The more I've been letting myself enjoy my workouts, the more I want to do it. I also am thinking of switching my gym, just for the change in scenery. Either way, I am committing to 4 times of some kind of movement for at least 30 minutes. I know I'll go back to the heavy stuff eventually, but right now I am feeling good.

Take your Vitamin D. Winter is rough on everyone. Especially in New England. We are definitely not getting enough sun - which plays a big role in our mood. I make sure through those cold months to pop one of these a day.

Self-care. I know, I know, you're hearing about this everywhere. What the F does that actually mean? For me, it means to slow down. As a go-go-go person, I rarely take a moment to relax. Its hard for me to sit on a couch and not be thinking of a zillion other things I could be doing. Allowing myself to take a mental health day (and YES you should use your sick time for that) or going to the infrared sauna (my fav treat to myself), going for a facial or a mani/pedi are great ways for me to just do nothing for a little bit. Odds are good, if you let yourself relax for a little you'll get motivated to do something.

Bad mood? Try Ashwagandha. This is one of my favorite supplements that helps when I'm feeling really off. A super adaptogen, this herb essentially helps your body deal with stress better. For over 3000 years its been used to help relieve stress, boost energy levels, and improve concentration. It also has been known to reduce cortisol levels (aka also stress), lower anxiety and depression levels, reduces inflammation, and also has anti-cancer properties. Its one powerful little pill. I keep them in my medicine cabinet for when I feel wonky, and just one within about 20-30 minutes helps me feel better. This is the one I like best. Of course, consult with a doctor first before taking anything.

Spending time with your girlfriends - even if its on the phone. There is nothing more relaxing to me than sharing a cup of tea with a gal pal. Yes, your partner is your best friend too, but some QT time with your best gal really can help to change the dynamic of your mood. Take 30 minutes to catch up on the phone if they aren't local.

Find a balance of saying yes and saying no. This ones a hard one for me. Especially in the winter, I find that I don't want to do anything or go anywhere. So more often than not, I find myself saying no to doing things. At the same time, sometimes saying no, taking on an extra shift at work, saying no to a workout in that moment can really be healthy. Part of this? Saying no to spending so much time on social media. All that mindless scrolling can sometimes put a real damper on my mood. All you see is glorified lives of parties, perfect bodies and skin and luxurious vacations. Remember that this isn't real, and limiting that screen time brings you back to reality. In the same breathe, finding that balance of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to say yes is just as valuable. Trying a new workout class, grabbing a drink with a friend after work even if you're tired, sometimes when you really want to say no, is when you should actually say yes. Listen to your gut on this one, and know when's the right time to push.

If nothing else, know that this wont last forever. Sometimes we get super tunnel visioned in those moments of funk. That being said, don't let yourself wallow in it. Sometimes, I give myself a set amount of time to be 'off' and then when that time is done I get up and moving. The funk will pass eventually, don't forget that.

I hope you find some comfort in knowing that if you're going through something similar that you're not going through it alone. Give yourself a little bit of a break, and a reason to sit still and you'll find yourself back in a routine sooner than later. How do you deal when you're feeling unmotivated and in a funk?



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