Re-finding My Intrinsic Motivation
I can watch my fitness journey’s path as it winds along from the beginning to the present: from college athlete to half-marathon runner to bodybuilding competitions, but the journey I haven’t closely watched and thought about until this past weekend was my motivational journey. Senior year of college was the hardest year for my mental toughness strength. I had to try to stay in the moment even as I continued to swim slower than my personal best times meet after meet and stay tough as I competed in my LAST swim meet ever during the Championships in February. The Championship meet wasn’t even over before I begged my coach to compete in a second chance meet two weeks later. Even though my body told me it was time to hang up the suit I was not mentally there yet. I continued to swim, go to bed early, stay home from parties, and eat well for two more weeks. I didn’t even blink an eye when I signed up to continue my swim career for one last hurrah.
This past weekend I competed in my second bodybuilding competition, my first one was September of 2015, and to prepare for the show I had to follow a strict diet and exercise plan for 16 weeks. The last couple of weeks are mentally the toughest because you have low energy, dairy is cut out of the diet (no more ice cream or real cheese!), and you feel as though you have no time to sit and relax. Coming out of the 16 weeks you feel as though you need to be rewarded for all the hard work you put in and you are ready to WIN! I was fully prepared to win first place but I did not prepare myself if I placed not how I pictured. In both my categories I received 4th place and it was devastating. I was angry, hurt, and disappointed. I had previously planned to compete in a second show three weeks later, June 25th, but I came off stage and threw my hat into the ring. I didn’t want to compete in the second show not because I didn’t want to lose again but because I felt as though my body was not the level it should be at to compete at that high level. I wanted to end my season right there and then to compete next June 2017. I was ready to eat lots of food to grow a better physique, to spend time with my family, and to give my mind a mental vacation.
Over the course of the next few days, after enjoying lots of treats!!, I talked to my team members, my coach, and my husband. It was then that I thought back to my senior year in college when I kept competing meet after meet but why this past weekend I wanted to give up so quickly after the bodybuilding competition ended. I realized that somewhere along the way I had lost my intrinsic motivation. With a couple of different events falling into place: financial restraints were lifted, coach’s support, husband’s work hours slowing down with summer break approaching, and eating real food, I decided that I was going to compete in the second show in three weeks. After the decision was made my anger and disappointment ebbed and flowed out of me, a good gym lift will help destress!, and I thought back to that girl in college who’s fire never went out. Since then I have worked on my intrinsic motivation by setting small goals for myself, staying in the moment, and practicing a mental toughness exercise every night.
I want to build my fire to be brighter than the girl’s in my past!