A few months ago, I joined a fitness group sponsored by our county health department. We walked for 2 days a week and I loved it. It held me accountable and I knew that I would get in at least 2 days a week of a good solid workout. I think I only missed 3 days during the whole season (March-June).

The group breaks for the summer then starts up again in late August, but they offer an incentive to keep working out over the summer months. If you log 150 minutes of exercise every week for the 9-week break, you get a free t-shirt before the fall season begins. I thought, “oh this will be great! I will do this!”

I figured that 150 minutes per week is equal to about 20 minutes per day. Twenty minutes? Easy peasy!! I can do that!

But then I would get busy and think, “I’ll do my 20 minutes later” and then of course ‘later’ never came. Same thing with the next day, and the next. That first week, I logged 75 minutes of exercise total (I think I took a couple of after-dinner walks a couple of times that week – which is great, but it didn’t add up to 150 minutes). And not hitting those 20 minutes momentarily brought up my Mean Girl – “Good job slacker. You couldn’t even do 20 measly minutes? What a loser!” but I shut her up pretty quick because I don’t let those thoughts linger anymore.

Then I decided that 4 40-minute workouts would be better. Only guess what? Things got busy and sometimes I missed a couple of days and that threw things really out of whack. That week, I totaled 70 minutes. Again, I had to duct tape Mean Girl’s mouth and tell her to go sit in the corner because I don’t have time for her nonsense.

So I’m on week 4 now and I have yet to hit that 150-minute mark. I thought about it and I decided that I’m done worrying about that number. Having a numerical goal is not something that gets me off the couch. Why am I doing this in the first place? Is it to get 150 minutes? Is that really my end goal? Is it to win a free t-shirt (a t-shirt that, truth be told, is really kind of ugly)?

No! My end goal is to FEEL GOOD. So what if, instead of being a slave to the number (sound familiar?), I make ‘feeling good‘ my motivation?

I decided to look at my schedule and see when working out would feel the best for me. It is so dang hot here now that working out after work is not happening. If I try to do it later in the evening when it has cooled off a little, there’s a good chance that by 8:00pm I’ve already taken off my bra and put on pj pants and am thinking seriously about snuggling into bed to watch Discovery Channel for awhile. So evening workouts are a no go for right now.

I decided that I would aim for a morning workout. I like morning workouts during the summer time because the fact that it starts getting light out at 5:00am makes me feel less like I’m missing out on more snooze time. So I got out of bed at 5:15 this morning, found a video on Youtube and did a full body workout for 35 minutes – and it felt great! And because it felt great, the likelihood that I’ll do it again tomorrow morning is very high. And if I keep doing what feels great, then the minutes will add up naturally over time.

My end game, no matter if it’s what I’m eating or when I’m working out or how I’m communicating with people, is about FEELING GOOD. If I keep that in mind, everything else just falls into place.

So obviously, I’m not motivated by numbers – what doesn’t motivate you? Have you figured out what works and what doesn’t for you? If so, how did you come to that realization?