Tag Archives: motivation

WHY Did I Keep Quitting?

DISCLAIMER: As much as I’d like to have a visit with you if you think I might be the right coach for you, this post isn’t about coaching. Even if you work with someone, they might just focus on the program and not get into a topic like this – even though it’s critical for long term success. This post is based on my personal journey since 2010. I don’t expect it to resonate with everyone, but it might help one person.

You’ve done it before.  You’ve started a program.  And…then you quit.

I started and quit many times.

And then something changed. 

You might know my story, but I’m digging a bit deeper in this post.

There are several things that contribute to “success”.  Let’s use a working definition of success in terms of a heath transformation as…

HEALTH TRANSFORMATION SUCCESS: Sticking with a program long enough to reach a goal and then having the tools to maintain it.

I didn’t have the THE mysterious thing that I needed to make a health transformation success happen before. Was it a piece of knowledge I was missing? Was it a character flaw? Was it a weakness in my personality??

And then *POOF* it all clicked. It made sense.

It wasn’t fear of dying early was on my mind this whole time, even though the doctors were quite clear about that risk. That was the catalyst for the real work I needed to do.

It was a mindset shift! I needed to figure out WHY I was OK with quitting repeatedly. That’s actually out of character for me.

I needed to be willing to be vulnerable, get my ego out of the way, and be brutally honest with myself as I looked for answers to questions I didn’t want to ask.

I did this to myself.  That’s obvious.  But WHY?????

The reflective work to find the “WHY do I keep quitting” was THE thing I needed to do.

Highly successful people have demonstrated motivation and determination in other areas of their lives.  But they will still sabotage their own self-care!  Right?  I did.  And then I used “lack of motivation” as an excuse.   Or blamed my screwed-up priorities. Those are easy to grab.

But they aren’t the reasons. They are the results of something else.

As a math teacher, I dealt with this daily. Apathetic teens were willing to give up the high school diploma instead of challenging their fixed mindset about how they couldn’t learn algebra and/or geometry. (And I suspect there is at least one adult reading this right now who probably had to power through that particular mindset, too!)

This health stuff and the math stuff are more closely related than most people think.

Be brave.  Ask yourself the hard questions…

  • WHY are you repeating this pattern?
  • Why don’t you think you deserve to fix this??

It doesn’t matter if you’re doing this alone or working with a trainer or coach.  If quitting feels like a better option than pushing through and figuring out WHY you want to quit, there is something underneath that is the driver for what you might think is a a lack of motivation or a weakness in your determination-muscle.

Even if you have a coach who is willing to engage in the work with you about these hard questions, if you’re not willing to dig in, the result will be the same.  The pattern will repeat.

My hard truth was that I didn’t believe I deserved to treat myself better. It felt like I hadn’t earned it.

My self-worth was based on what I did for others.  I was invisible unless I was reflected in another person’s opinion of me.  I wasn’t actually me.  I was some type of character in my own life based on my “roles” (wife, teacher, daughter, sister, etc). 

I’m NOT blaming anyone other than myself for how I felt.  No one expected me to become invisible – quite the contrary. 

People usually want the people they love to be happy and thriving.  But I wasn’t happy, wasn’t thriving, and nothing was going to change until I figured out why I didn’t care enough to change.

I’m not a psychologist, so I’m sure there is more under there to explore, but I needed to have the epiphany that I wasn’t properly caring for one of God’s kids…me.  I needed to step back and look at what was really going on.

And I needed to accept that my self-neglect, which I thought was honorable because I was putting others first, would actually harm them over time as I developed more serious health issues.

Sick, unhappy Tammy would not be a good partner for my husband and would not be a good teacher for my students.

After that, I approached everything like it was a problem at work.  What’s not working?  What will fix it?  Work. The. Problem.

The answer for me was to give up pretending I knew what I was doing, give up control, get help, and do what I was told.  Period.

I resigned to trust that process and be patient.

There have been a few changes on “Team Tammy” as people either needed to leave or I needed something different.  That’s OK and expected.  It’s part of the growth process.  If you take this route of working with a trainer or coach, your job is to find the right one to be on your team.

Refer to DISCLAIMER above! I am NOT the right coach for everybody. Not even going to pretend that’s the case. There are plenty of coaches and trainers out here doing this work online and in person. Do your research. Trust your gut!

My underlying resolve to keep all of this going for myself remains in tact because I was able to adopt a mindset that values self-care without making it seem like selfishness.


Filed under Life, Motivation, Weight Loss

60.5 Weeks Out: Just Catching Up

I’ve wanted to write for days, but haven’t had an inspired thought.   Gave up – I’m going to just write down my uninspired thoughts.

I’m relaxed.  Finally.  The last calculus classes I will ever teach (as far as I know now) took their AP exam last week.  After that exam each year, a part of my brain just goes to sleep for a few days.  It feels very much like finishing final exams when I was a student.  So for now, I am spending my days enjoying my students.  I love being their teacher.  I’ve been lucky – for several years now I’ve been the precalculus and calculus teacher.  So I’ve been able to work with kids for two (or three for my BC class) years in a row.  Not many high school teachers get the opportunity to loop with students and I’m grateful.  It’s amazing what a teacher can accomplish with that kind of program – you have time to get to know your kids, learn their strengths and weaknesses, and watch them mature.  When the decision was made to dismantle my program, without even inviting me to the meeting – well, that broke my heart.  Yeah – I took that personally.

I just heard my phone notify me that I got a text. “Thought you’d like this.  I think I can apply to the real world and math, of course.”  Sent by one of my students.  (They get motivational pep talks frequently, so they know I love this stuff and connect athletic and academic excellence all the time.)

At my new school, a middle school, I’m going to get kids for two years in a row again.  I’ll be teaching 8th grade algebra and 7th grade pre-algebra.  Perfect!!  Exactly how I like to work.  They’re just going to be a little younger.   I’m getting excited to make this move and I have decided to put thoughts of retirement on the back burner.  I’m excited to set up a new classroom.   I’m excited to work with younger kids.  And I’m  excited to work at a school that is only a couple miles from where we live.  I’m going to be able to walk or bike to work everyday!  Cardio?  Check!!  There is a little logistics problem with getting to the gym to lift – it is 11 miles away.  Eleven miles down freeway, down the mountain – biking is not an option.  There is an Anytime Fitness a lot closer, but I really don’t want to join a third gym.  Oh well.  I am a firm believer in “things will work out”.

Lifting is still going well.  I tested squats the other day.  They aren’t perfect, there is a lot of work to be done, but there is also some improvement.  I haven’t done them in months.  Replaced back squats with goblets squats and hex bar deadlifts, both done with occlusion.

I am about a year and a month out from competing.  Program is going to change a little, but things are working well, so they won’t be drastically adjusted.  Despite being under some substantial life-stress since February, I’ve managed to gain strength and a couple pounds keeping the body composition about the same as it was in January.   I’m feeling solid on the inside and a little fluffy on the outside.  That’s OK for off-season.  I’ll share more in coming posts, but one thing I’m going to do is eat more.  Because I track my daily burn data from the BodyBugg, I have been able to adjust intake to be about 100-200 calories under my burn.  I’m now going to eat at maintenance or a little bit above.  I’m going to increase my lifting days from four to five or six days a week, so I will need those calories.


Time for progress pics!  (Staring at birds in the backyard with my frowny face.  Hahaha!) I’m encouraged.  Many areas to improve (like my lagging right lat), but I see progress.


Progress Check, 5-10-14

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Life, Motivation, Teaching, Videos

Pep Talks

One of the things I really enjoy about teaching is giving pep-talks.  I never used to give as many I as do now.  I’ve learned a lot about how the mental game can help you progress or hold you back.  For me it is in the gym, but that’s not the first hard thing I’ve done.  It’s easy to connect that to their lives in school.  And many of my students who play sports identify with what I’m doing as a bodybuilder.  I try to make the connection that doing “hard stuff” in any part of our lives is a challenge, but once you learn how to succeed, it translates to other things.  It’s not just about math (they are learning some hard stuff – trigonometry, precalculus and calculus), but how learning to overcome an obstacle now will help them in life later.

Students tell me that they like the pep talks.  I suspect they really like the time not taking notes or doing problems.  That’s cool.  It works for me.  They still hear it.  I try not to abuse it.  But there are key times when a good pep talk is needed…

  • before a hard quiz
  • after a hard quiz
  • when grades come out
  • when no one wants to work because it’s a Monday, a Friday, or a Wednesday.  For some reason, Tuesdays and Thursdays seem to be good days to learn math.
  • it’s a senior class in second semester – sometimes they need a pep talk every day

I am grateful to have the opportunity to think about how to motivate kids.  I suspect that’s because I need pep talks, too.  Lately, I feel like I need a bunch.

I can’t lie – competing is fun, but I’m not motivated by it right now since it’s not happening again until summer 2015.  I LOVE training.  I want to be a good lifter.  I want to improve technique and I want to build more muscle.  Changes at this point are not dramatic.  Growth comes in grams,  not pounds.  I am very slowly and methodically working on my body composition so that when I start the next prep, it will be easier.  (Although, the last two weren’t really that bad.  Doc is happy with my blood work and thyroid looks good.  I want to keep it that way.)   I have to be consistent and patient.  I also need to keep working on sleep, recovery, and stress management.

What really keeps me going is the process.  I love the science of self-discovery.  I love looking for connections between training, nutrition, sleep, stress, and what my body does under certain conditions.  It’s all so miraculous to this former fat-chick who used to think two plates of nachos with a couple rum and cokes was the best supper ever.  I love that the more I learn, the more questions I have.  I love that every body is different and what works fabulously for one doesn’t work at all for another.  This is just really fun.  I know that lifting isn’t for everyone.  Some like to run, some like to dance – I like to lift.  But I do believe that for us to be happy, we must move.  The body is a biomiracle that functions optimally when the day involves movement.

Rambling!  Sorry.  Hazard of my ‘stream of consciousness’ blogging style.

Back on topic…

This is what I share with my students – that if something is important to you, find a way to do it.  I tell them that I know “math” isn’t everyone’s favorite subject, but getting a good grade in a hard class is possible even if it’s not your favorite subject.  Focus on your process more than short term results because improvement will come if the process is solid.  Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard, right?  

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Filed under Competing, Life, Motivation, Teaching