Matt Trask • July 9, 2019
Read Time: 5 minsself improving
I was on the phone with my good friend Korvin Szanto yesterday when he asked how I keep motivated on days when I don't feel like riding or going to the gym. It sparked an interest to write a few thoughts down for anyone else who wonders how to keep going.
The fight to keep going
This year started off differently for me, and so far it has continued to be different. I woke up 2019 determined to make some changes. The past few years have been a mix of apathy, lethergy, anger, and no motivation to change myself. For whatever reason, I didn't want 2019 to be the same thing. I started reading all kinds of books, figured out how to make running suck less to get to cycling season, and started lifting. Now, I've started tracking what I eat, making better choices for food, and trying to make sure I stay away from soda and things like that. Even beer has been cut down drastically.
The thing is though is that this isn't easy. It's hard to keep going every single day. Even rest days require more thought and planning. So how do you keep it up day and day out?
You only get one body. Treat it like a temple.
Im not to this stage yet, but this is a paraphrased quote from Terry Crews. If you don't know him, he spends hours in the gym every single day. He is also really funny. In one interview he was asked why he spends so much time in the gym. The headline above summarises it pretty well. We don't know what happens when we die, but we do know our bodies don't go with us. But in order to get further in life, you need to take care of your body while you have it. And what motivates me to keep working on it? Well a few things.
- Airplane seats are uncomfortable if you are fat.
- Going outside in the summer and immediately sweating
- Running out of breath just taking the stairs
- Clothes looking bad.
As someone who has done a lot of traveling this year for conferences, I can tell you first hand being squished in an airplane seat is enough on its own. Last night (July 8th, 2019), I went out to an art crawl downtown. It was so much fun. But when I was done, I looked at my shirt and it was covered in sweat. No one wants to see that. It's not a good look. When it comes time to a work out (I prefer cycling), I know that its just an hour of work but it will give me days of fulfillment. There are days I don't want to go, but I put on my shoes and gym shorts, walk over there and even if I just do 20 minutes on the elliptical, that counts to me as effort towards the goal. Same thing with a walk with my dog. A 30 minute walk is good enough to count, and thankfully podcasts and Audible help me make it even better.
Little improvements over big improvements
One book I read detailed the rise of the Team Sky (now Team Ineos) cycling team. The manager, Sir Dave Brailsford, realized something simple: a 1% improvement daily beats a massive improvement once a week. With that, he went to the riders of the team, and started making micro adjustments to how they rode, how their bikes were set up, what they wore. And it paid off. The team became a dominant force in European cycling winning the Tour De France multiple times, along with other major rides. When I heard this, this is what I knew I needed to do. I didn't hit 265 pounds over night, and I wasn't going to hit 200 pounds over night either. 1% improvements were the goal. When I check my weight, seeing the scale move down just .1 pound is enough for a victory. Being able to ride a well ridden route .10 mph faster is a win. Micro improvements seem to be the winner in how I stay motivated. I know over time, these 1% improvements will total up to 10% improvement in speed or a 15% improvement in weight lifted or 20% reduction in sweat.
If you think you can start going to the gym today and by the end of the week deadlift 200 pounds, you are wrong and will lose motivation when you don't hit that goal. Instead, going to the gym now, laying the foundation and improving just ever so much will help you reach that goal of 200 pound deadlifts. How do I get there? I start by doing a set to failure with deadlifting, finding out my limit. Then once I do, every lift after that is just a small amount more. Will I deadlift 200 in a week? No. But I will in a month. In fact I will probably blow through it.
The sense of worth gains
The last thing that keeps me motivated to do all of this is how much my self esteem has risen and how much everything else has decreased. Instead of wallowing in stress, I grab my bike and let a hill take it out of me. When I put on a shirt, instead of it being tight, its now loose. Thats a huge win. And because of that, I feel better. Im not there yet, but I will get there. And hopefully some of this will help you stay motivated as well.