If you’ve struggled with motivation over the past few months, you’re not alone. The pandemic has changed life as we know it. It could be years before we ever resume our normal lives. To make matters worse, scientists have issued the demoralising verdict that COVID-19 may remain with us forever. We may just have to learn to live with it and manage it, as we’ve done with other chronic diseases.
Thus, what started as a disease of the body has quickly begun to affect our minds. Why continue to push ourselves when we are mostly stuck at home? When was the last time you went to the movies in the city? Pushed your way through the crowd at a concert venue to see your favourite band? Took a cruise through the Caribbean? Flew out to South Asia for a foodie-paradise vacation? Travelled to see family and friends in other states?
This mindset sets a trap that’s hard to climb out of once complacency has its jaws clamped down on you. I’ve experienced this first-hand over the past few months and have been steadily clawing my way out of it. What worked for me was committing to a 30-Day workout challenge every month. It may not be what works for you, but this is my experience since starting this on August 1, 2020.
Being Part of a Team
Before the pandemic, my workout routine was simple and effective. I went to the gym once per week. Whenever I could, I would fit another day of biking or hiking. That’s all I needed to stay in shape. Once visiting the gym was no longer an option for me, I bought a few exercise machines and prepared for home workouts. But, I made an excuse every single week and ended up not doing anything.
In July, after becoming increasingly frustrated with myself and my lack of exercise, I decided to try a different approach. I started the #30WithAlex challenge on Twitter. It began with a premade 30-day squats challenge that I posted and asked people to join. We are now less than a week into our third challenge and more than 50 participants have tried these, so far. With so many people working out together virtually, we all feel a greater push to get the workouts done.
Learning From Others
While no one is obligated to do so, we encourage checking in every day to confirm the completion of the day’s assigned task. People who are not on Twitter check in with me directly via text or WhatsApp. Over time, I notice when people begin to fall off the bandwagon. Some get it together and climb back on, while others take the first slip as an exit point. I find that men are more likely to call it quits than women. Also, sometimes the most unlikely people push through it.
For instance, in September, my mom decided to join our #30WithAlex abs challenge. While young men and young women fell off the bandwagon, Mom kept pushing through them. She even finished the challenge a day early because of how she re-organized it to suit her schedule. At the end of it all, she was so proud of herself, because she never thought she’d be able to keep pushing to the very end. It was an excellent reminder that anyone can complete these challenges if they remain committed.
Collecting on the Rewards
At the end of every month, participants do a final check in to share their experiences with the challenge. They might say whether they finished it and what the biggest obstacles for completion were. Those who tracked specific metrics will share those. For instance, during the abs challenge, some people lost anywhere from 3/4 inch to three inches off the waist. I lost two inches and can see my abs playing peek-a-boo with me again.
Ladies who are married share compliments from their husbands. One young mother told us that she can finally pick up her toddler and chase him around the house without feeling out of breath. Some people, like my mom, focus on the mental benefit of being able to see something through from start to finish. There are also many of us who are just grateful for a supportive community in a time like this.
Pandemic or no pandemic, the days and months and years will continue to tick by. We will only continue to get older, but we don’t need to get fatter too!
Maybe your struggle isn’t pushing yourself to work out. Maybe you desperately want to resume your hobbies or can’t seem to make it through a book anymore. Whatever it is, I hope you find a way to reclaim the motivation so many of us have lost.
Are you also struggling to stay active during the pandemic? What steps have you taken to resolve it? What about other goals that have gotten harder to keep up with? Share your experiences and advice in the comments below!
PS:- I changed carriers recently and have very spotty internet, hence the very late post. Please bear with me while I figure this out!