How the fitness challenge took the fight out of me

image description: the word weary, written in a casual purple, lowercase script-like font, over a white background and lighter purple.
image description: the word weary, written in a casual purple, lowercase script-like font, over a white background and lighter purple. overlapping circles.

I’ve complained about the 100 day corporate fitness challenge a few times over the past 100 days. Here and here and here. When I said to Renald last week that I will not be doing this again next year, he said, “yeah sure.”

But I can promise you, I will not. I lost interest in counting steps at about the half way point. My interest waned for several reasons, not the least of which is that counting steps is about the most boring way to track “fitness” that I can imagine. Sure, some days it’s challenging to hit the target, but for me the reason those are challenging days is that I do a lot of things besides counting steps.

Yoga — no steps. Personal training — almost no steps of consequence.  And then there were the big money items from last year that I wasn’t doing, especially swimming. Swimming is the best conversion ever.

And then–don’t get me wrong I won’t complain about going on vacation–my time on the sailboat (which I do quite a bit in the summer) isn’t always conducive to getting lots of steps. It might seem ridiculous to some people — Sam thinks I take it all too seriously — but falling short on my step target bothers me. Since it bothers me, I need to try not to do it. But since it’s harder to get that type of movement on the boat, it kind of detracted sometimes from my enjoyment of my vacation. It was as if hitting the step target hung over me each day and influenced my choice of activities.

Now, I understand full well that influencing our choice of activities is one of the main goals of the step challenge. I mean, we’ve all heard of those people who will go out for a walk around the block just before bed when they realize they haven’t hit their daily target. You might say that if sailing is that sedentary, then maybe it’s not a great choice of vacation.

But it’s very easy to do yoga on the boat. And resistance training. And there are other elements of well-being that counting steps doesn’t track at all. Like I get enough sleep on my sailing vacations. And I have more time to meditate. But the step challenge stays silent on the merits of those things in its single-minded focus on counting steps and doing things that translate into steps.

The challenge officially ended on Friday. And the most accurate way I can describe how I’m feeling at the moment is “weary.” Instead of feeling energized with a new set of good habits, I feel unmotivated and in need of a break. But a break from what? I man, counting steps is hardly a taxing undertaking in the scheme of my fitness activities.

But that unmotivated feeling has kicked in right when I’m about to re-start 10K training for an October 21 event. And even though I wrote recently about goals and how I’m looking forward to getting back to them, after 100 days of having a very specific goal each day, I feel like a goal is the last thing I want.

I’ve got my first real training run tomorrow, an easy 6K with strides, designed to help ease me back into training. But I’m not feeling the least bit inspired. Ugh.

Despite that, I’m going to push myself out the door. That’s not my favourite approach — I’m a big advocate of doing stuff because I want to do it, not because I have to. But maybe I just need to get over this little hump and back into my rhythm. Both Catherine and I have written in the past week about the joys of re-establishing a rhythm. And that joy can’t be found if I don’t take steps (so to speak) to establish it. When I’m feeling unmotivated, the best solution for me is to aim low. If 6K is too daunting, I’ll let myself be satisfied with less than that.

If you’re feeling weary and unmotivated, what’s your go-to strategy for getting the joy back?

5 thoughts on “How the fitness challenge took the fight out of me

  1. I have a couple of strategies:

    1) Tell myself that I don’t have to run far/stay long at the gym/do very much of whatever activity it is that I’m not feeling motivated about. Once I get started, I often end up enjoying myself and doing more than the low bar that I set for myself. (This also works for attending parties and social gatherings that I’m nervous about!)
    It sounds like this is pretty much the same as your “doing less” strategy.

    2) Give myself permission to take a day off. Not too frequently, obviously – but if I notice that my lack of motivation is becoming a pattern, skipping an activity helps remind me that I have a choice in how I spend my time. Usually, I come back from a short break reinvigorated (or at least less drained).

  2. I try to do 5 or 6 sessions a week… that is usually 2 x bootcamps, 1 x PT, 1 x gym session, 1x run or gym session and 1 x swim. I find it easier to keep to all these sessions if I have a gym buddy and to be held accountable this way. Bootcamps are great as over the time I have come to know everyone and we are quite close. I am quite inspired by people and our trainer and the camaraderie and competition this brings. There are costs associated with bootcamps and PTs but it has been the easiest way for me to stick to it. The final thing is goal setting. If you are working towards something you will find a reason or need to keep at it. I am working towards my first triathlon at the end of the year which is spurring me on.

  3. When I feel a lack of motivation or, as is often the case, energy levels are down, I tend to go to the gym three days running. This is quite hard but seems to help get my energy levels and motivation back up. Counting steps is tedious and it is best to do the best you can on the day. Sometimes if you are not in the mood, tell yourself that you will do a shorter session and often, but not always, you may do more.

  4. Reblogged this on FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE and commented:

    Oh, the corporate fitness challenge! ‘‘‘Tis the season where everyone st work is strong their trackers ready for the 100 days of counting steps. And guess what? True to my word, I’m not doing it. Because I tend to experience FOMO even over things I don’t want to do, I’m posting what I wrote last September at the end of the challenge. This is to remind me that I really meant it.

    Do you like fitness challenges that last 100 days or more? Do you like counting steps?

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