Motivation Monday: What’s Your Intention

I see you. You walk into the gym and hop on your stationary bike to warm up.  You stare at the clock on the display until it reads 10:00. There. Warm-up done. You meander into the weight room, set up your equipment, grab your dumbbells, or hop on a machine. You go through the motions, lift-release, contract-relax, like a pre-programmed weight-lifting robot. Or maybe you don’t even go into the weight room because it makes you anxious, nervous, or you think it’s just for guys.  So you go ahead with the same workout you’ve been doing, for months,  years maybe.  Maybe you’re making progress, maybe you’re not.


I see you, and I know what causes this. You’re bored. You’re unmotivated. You’re uninspired. Maybe you’re feeling a little lazy (it happens to the best of us). Maybe you’ve hit a plateau in your training and you just can’t push past a certain weight on your squat. Maybe you just need something new to reenergize your workouts, to get your muscles firing in a little bit of a different pattern. Maybe you just need to figure out where your inspiration lies or why the heck you’re doing this in the first place.

I think we all lose ourselves in the gym at some point in our workout/training careers.  Whether you’re a beginner or are someone who is more comfortable in the weight room than anywhere else, at some point you’ll probably hit a wall.  As most of you know, I spent very little time in the weight room over the past two weeks because I hit that wall. I was unmotivated, tired, and just needed a little bit of time to recover both my muscles and my mindset.

How can you get out of this rut? Think about two things:

1) What are you doing this for? 

2) Are you actually working toward your goals? 

First things first, you have to figure out why you’re in the gym in the first place.  Are you trying to lose weight? Be healthier for your children? Look hot in your new jeans (and/or out of your new jeans)? Whatever your reason, be honest with yourself. Most of us do workout for aesthetic reasons just as much as for health reasons, and it’s ok to admit it. I spend a lot of time in the weight room because I want to be healthy and strong, but a lot of my motivation also comes from wanting my shoulders to look like this:

Secondly, you have to evaluate whether your fitness routine is actually getting you closer to those goals that you have set. (Here’s a hint: If you’ve been doing the same routine for the past 3 years and haven’t seen any progress, it’s probably not working.) So you want to have jacked shoulders and glutes that you could bounce a quarter off of? Riding the elliptical probably isn’t helping you any. You want to be able to run a 5k in under 30 minutes? Those bicep curls probably aren’t doing the trick.

Here’s an example: I set a goal a while ago that I wanted to be able to do 5 unassisted chin-ups. At the time I could only do 2-3. Guess how many I can do now? 5. I can also do 5 parallel grip pull-ups and can consistently perform 1 unassisted pull-up. I didn’t reach that goal just because I’m lucky, I reached that goal because I changed my upper body work over the summer to maximize strength increases in the muscles that would help me to my pull-up goals. Had I just kept up with the same type of upper body work that I had been doing for the entire year prior, most likely I would still be stuck at 3 chin-ups, 3 months later.

The most important part of training is working towards your goals, but first you need to be honest with yourself and crystal clear about what those goals are. If you’ve been stuck in a rut or have hit a plateau with your fitness routine, maybe it’s time to step back and reevaluate where you’re headed and why.  Not sure whether you’re doing this or not? Try this:

Sit down with a pen and paper. (That’s right, we’re going old school).

On one side of the paper, write down your fitness goals. On the other side, write down something you’re doing in your routine that has helped you to make progress toward reaching that goal. If you can’t come up with something for each goal, it’s time to change things up a little bit. If you stare at that paper, and realize that everything you’re doing is not getting you anywhere in terms of your fitness potential, figure out what changes need to be made, and then, here’s the kicker: make those changes. Easy enough, right? Now get to it.

Is your fitness routine actively helping you reach your goals? Have you ever hit a training plateau or a rut and how did you get out of it? When was the last time you switched things up in your fitness routine?

13 thoughts on “Motivation Monday: What’s Your Intention

  1. I agree ; a little variety in your training can make a world of difference 🙂

  2. I think this is the best post you’ve ever written, Stephanie. Hear hear!

  3. Great post – so totally what I used to experience at the gym! Now that I exercise at home I do my own research into fitness & exercise and now know the importance of switching it up. The lion pictures are great too, by the way 😉

    1. I think it’s important to be consistent so that you can actually get results from your program, but a little change up every once in a while can be all you need to get out of a rut! Thanks for your input 🙂

  4. onehealthymunchkin October 1, 2012 — 5:50 pm

    Awesome post topic! I was in a bit of a rut over the summer, especially when I had to stop running for a bit, but now that I’ve created my leg plan I feel so much better about my time spent at the gym! It’s really nice to have an actual goal to work towards!

    1. Thanks!! I am really glad that you’ve started some strength training for your legs, it will be really helpful for your running, and you’re right that it’s so helpful to have concrete goals!

  5. This is a great post! I’ve found myself in a workout rut the past couple of months and haven’t quite been able to figure out how to get out of it. I’ve been trying to take pressure off myself and not really set goals or make a training plan or anything, but maybe it’s necessary to keep my motivation up.

    1. Everyone is certainly different, but I find that without goals, it’s difficult to get proper motivation (at least for me). When I don’t have anything to work towards, I tend to just do random things that aren’t necessarily getting me anywhere. Maybe just try writing down a few (2-3) goals and make small changes one at a time?

  6. Good timing on this, I finally think I have a routine that keeps the “Variety” I like and incorporates Weight training, pull ups, cardio, and yoga.  But intention.  As I was running yesterday I noticed she kept saying ” Focus on what you want to get out of this, what was your goal.” I’m not sure she said intent but of course now that is what I’m hearing, not just what was my goal – to keep running for the full Treadmill Coach album of 54 minutes, but what is my intention?  I must say I wouldn’t mind my shoulders looking like that, but I’m dearly sick of the mommy tummy [ yes my kids 20 and I still blame her, that’s my story ] so reducing the layer of fat on my mid section is my goal, but also having firm muscles under the skin, to be able to move quickly [ agility moves ] to be able to pull myself up onto vehicles or over obstacles … my intention when I go to the gym is to be stronger and faster and healthier, to live a life of activity not one of the lazy lion.  Though some days I too walk in the gym like a glazed eyed zombie…mwaarrrrr lift weight, peddle… okay I have sweat go home.  So not my best moments 😉  I’ve written some of these ideas down to help me discover, what truly is my intention and how can I put that in my workout…


    1. Haha, I think we ALL have had those zombie days at the gym, I know I have! I love that you were thinking about your intention and goals during your run. I think they can be interchangeable too, so I wouldn’t stress about differentiating your goals vs. intentions. Oh and I LOVE your goal of being able to pull yourself up and over obstacles/vehicles! Bad ass!

  7. This is awesome! And so true. I spent 4 hours last week coming up with a 6month training schedule to run a 5K next April, but I think I could probably take a look again at other areas. Maybe do some research…hmm…you’ve inspired me!

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