Bloomington / Normal, IL

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Start Your Engines!


By Karen Tucker

Central Illinois is usually cold in January. We used to have a big, black Chevy Suburban that we didn’t use very often, so it “lived” in the driveway. Guess what? When we finally did need to use it, it wouldn’t start up right away. It had been sitting unused in the cold for too long.

After some coaxing, the engine turned over, sputtered, and stopped. It took several sputtering tries before it kept running. Even then, we had to let it idle and warm up before the car was ready to actually drive us anywhere.

The lesson is obvious to any northerner, right? It’s better to start the car every day and drive it at least a little so that it will be able to take me farther when I want it to. Of course, there’s a fitness moral to this story — well, actually two. One is easy to see, the other perhaps less apparent. Here’s the easy application:

Just like my Chevy Suburban, it’s harder to start a fitness routine if you’ve been sitting idle. If your fitness got “cold” over the holidays, don’t be surprised if it seems like a lot of work to get it started. It probably is.

Just like my Chevy Suburban’s first sputtering attempts, those first days and weeks of exercising might seem like torture! Realize that this is OK — it’s necessary to the process of getting going again.

“If your fitness got “cold” over the holidays, don’t be surprised if it seems like a lot of work to get it started. It probably is.”

Just like my Chevy Suburban, you may need to “warm up” before taking off. There is a natural time lag from when you start exercising to when you may actually see the results.

Just like my Chevy Suburban, your mind and body will perform consistently, reliably, more efficiently, and effectively if you “start it up” and “drive it around” a little bit every day. Just 20 minutes a day will yield amazing results!

But, here’s something I hadn’t realized before:

  • My car didn’t start because I felt like starting it.
  • My car didn’t start because I was excited about starting it.
  • My car didn’t start because I read the manual that came with it.
  • My car didn’t start because my husband told me to get it started.
  • My car started because I turned the key.

There’s an inaccurate myth floating around in our society about motivation. “Get motivated and you can accomplish anything.” Motivation is a very powerful force. The inaccuracy creeps in when we wait to feel motivated before we start accomplishing. Sometimes, we carry this inaccuracy even further — we consider not feeling motivated as a valid excuse for inaction. “Well, I’m just not motivated to get up at 6:00am today.” The only secret of motivation that I know to be absolutely accurate is that “feeling motivated” is a result of action, not a requirement for action.

I was never “motivated” to change my child’s diapers at 2am, but the result of my mothering actions is a wonderfully motivating relationship with my children. I am rarely “motivated” to clean my house, but as I start moving from room to room and see the results, I experience that sensation of satisfaction and desire to keep going. I truly do not “feel motivated” to get up before the sun rises when it’s below zero outside to drive to the gym to work out. But after I’m there, I connect with some of my friends, I work up a sweat, it feels great to breathe hard, and sometimes, I don’t want to leave.

My car started because I turned the key. Turning the key for your health in 2019 is taking action now! Trust me — the feelings of motivation will come. Start your engines!

Physical activity is a key to good health, and we are lucky to have so many exercise facilities and programs in the Bloomington-Normal area. Explore the possibilities and figure out what works for you.