Commitment & Motivation

Commitment & Motivation

Have you ever hit that brick wall where despite what you know you need to do, you just don’t do it? I am at that point right now with exercise.  My Multiple Sclerosis responds best to exercise – I’m not talking about the aerobic bouncing or the marathon running, but the regular routine of stretching, bending and otherwise moving in ways that will strengthen my core muscles and stretch my spastic limbs.

I’m one of those people who need a commitment to exercise to make it happen, and that is why I sign up for wellness classes through my work.  I pay the money (small token amounts), I schedule the time (during my lunchtime), and I go (a short walk away from my desk).  It’s as simple as that because I had made the commitment and other people help to motivate me and keep me accountable.   That routine came to a screeching halt, or perhaps I should say thud, when I took a fall in the workplace gym in early spring. This was one of those times when I required the ambulance and needed multiple stitches and the subsequent sore and bruised muscles and two black eyes derailed the routine.

It is said it takes 21 days to create a habit, and my break from exercise was longer than that. It was a good six weeks before I could bend or stretch without pain and that was all it took to create my new habit – doing little physically and rediscovering the joy of good food.

There have always been extra pounds on my frame that I could stand to lose, and now there are even more. Not being physically active has been detrimental to my weight and my health.  My knees and back feel the strain of the additional load it carries. I know all too well that I benefit from some form of exercise and my MS does much better when I am active.

My conscious brain is trying hard to convince the rest of me to just do it.  I’ve done tougher things in my life so why is this so difficult? I discussed this with my neurologist at our last appointment and we talked about what I could and would do to make a change.  I suggested I resume walking regularly, starting out slow and short distances and building up to more.  He asked what type of commitment I was willing to make to walking – he said he didn’t care if it was even only one day a week, but it had to be my commitment.  Earnestly I suggested that I would commit to walking four days a week. We didn’t discuss distances or a pace – just that I need to get up and move.

The first week of walking went fine – I easily made the goal of four days.  The following week I found myself mid-week without having yet walked and scrambled to walk each of the last four days of the week. By the third week, the commitment was lost somewhere in vacation and travels, dining out, summer heat, and every other distraction and excuse I could list.  And then the thought of walking just slipped quietly away to where all good intentions that are left unfulfilled go to lurk – my conscience.

So why does my conscience have me again wanting me to do more than just think about walking? For one reason, my Multiple Sclerosis is taking more control of my body and I don’t like that.  Another possible reason is I just shopped for some new clothes and had to buy a larger size.  But the most probable reason is the next appointment with my neurologist is looming in four weeks, and greater than my dislike of exercise is my dislike of failing at a goal.  There is great motivation for me in disappointment – not his but mine. I made a commitment that I have not lived up to.

Today I will again tackle that wall and try to disassemble it brick by brick.  I am taking a renewed pledge to take care of this body, MS and all, and restart my program of getting up and moving, one step at a time.  Anyone care to join me?

Wishing you well,

Laura

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (28)
  • tfs
    3 years ago

    What an Eeyore! Things are not as dark as they seem. Exercise with a group will help motivate me and assist with low mood. Lots going on. Lots to be thankful for also. Thank You for such a great article on Commitment & Motivation. Perhaps it will be just the catalyst to get me “rescheduling”

  • tfs
    3 years ago

    I can join this well intentioned group. I am unable to work now and I have not been very successful creating a new framework for my day. I can attest to the fact that I received a pair of snowshoes two Christmas seasons ago … the concept very lovely, but only used by my niece and my son’s girlfriend. If I complete daily physio routine I am proud of myself. (supposed to be done 2x daily) I was very gung ho at first. Walk, yes. Once in awhile. Intentions to join a water fitness group at the community rec centre. Wish me luck. I am a work in progress and struggling with depression. Core relationships failing. Marriage of 32 years slipping away. Again, wish me luck. Still moving and hanging on to hope that MS will be gift that helps me become stronger and more complete.

  • teresal
    3 years ago

    I have the same dilemma – I started using a desk-cycle I received (at my request) for Christmas, and was using it 5 to 6 times a week, building up time and speed, when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. The demands of dealing with both the physical and emotional toll the diagnosis took on him, and on me, put my exercise on the back burner. I see the cycle daily next to my chair, but just haven’t been able to do more than an occasional day. I am ready to commit to it again, but would also like an incentive (other than the logical ones of feeling better, stronger and eating less) or an impetus to get going again. Hoping reading that I am not alone might be the push I need. Hope you are able to find the motivation too. Regards.

  • Ann Campbell
    6 years ago

    I think for me it helps that I signed up at the Y for a swim personal trainer. I really like her, and the swim exercise. I don’t think I’d do it alone, or in a class, but she knows what I can do and what I need. It’s great.

  • itasara
    6 years ago

    I was born a couch potato-Really. I never enjoyed it as a kid. Hated gym all the way thru college til the PE requirement was dropped. I liked a few activies likd ice skating and ballet but I was never good at either. After my first child was born and he was about 4 maybe I suddenly decided to jog around the block. I didn’t like it but I I didn’t hate it. I continued jogging at least 3 days/week and during 4 more pregnancies and kids. My husband and I joined a facility where the kids were in babysitting or pre school 3mornings/week and I went to exercise classes and continued jogging and swimming and even entered some 5K races (coming in last of course.) in 1984 I got my first computer. That was the beginning of the end. When my youngest started school full time in about 1889 that was the end of exercise except for an occasional walk with the dog and occasional bike ride. I was not dx until 2005. I have so far a mild case but I just do not want to exercise. About 6mo ago maybe I tried an MS DVD on beginning yoga. Everyone says Yoga is terrific. The CD was on my shelf for several years. It was okay but nothing I have gone back to try again; I don’t have the patience for it. I am just not motivated. My son gave me a stair step type device and he said 5 min. a day to start. I did for awhile, but hardly touch it any more. I’m not motivated to try or to push myself even though I know it is good to exercise. My dog has lost her ability to walk so I spend most of my time sitting with her or sitting at the computer reading things like this newsletter. Procrastination is my middle name whether it is exercise, cleaning the house, cooking, etc. I guess I am in a rut- at a standstill. I could blame some of it on MS or growing older (I’m 65 now) but as I said it has always been a problem except for those 9 years where I was jogging and exercizing regularly and rarely missed a day whether rain, snow, or sleet! I saw people then which helped and I’m more isolated now being at home most of the time, but I still have not desire to get “moving.”

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    Couch potatoes and are we genetically predisposed to being one would make a great research project, don’t you think? LOL

    I hear you about the motivation and the need to have someone to encourage the exercise routine. Turning off the computer is hard to do, too. I have a magnet on my refrigerator that reads – “I don’t procrastinate, I reschedule.” Unfortunately rescheduling my exercise has taken a toll. I hope you find a way to get up and move.

  • Jess
    6 years ago

    Laura, I can SO relate! I’ve had a problem with motivation when it comes to exercise too. As my MS progresses and my walking gets worse, I find that I’m even less motivated to get moving. I’m the queen of starting something and then stopping not just with MS, but I’ve been this way my whole life. As the disease continues to keep me from moving, the pounds just pile on, depressing me and making me feel more guilty! I do manage to do my physical therapy exercises just about everyday so that helps with the guilt a little.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    Oh my, Jess we are a lot alike. I am a fantAstic starter and have tons of unfinished projects to prove it! Try to conquer that guilt by doing something , anything! Good luck and let us know
    How you are doing. Laura

  • JustsayN
    6 years ago

    Hi Laura. I’ve read this posts a couple of times as I wrestle with my issues about exercise. Yes I too need a commitment to exercise. When in PT, I commit myself to do the work. My therapists are generally impressed with my efforts and progress. As soon as the sessions are over though I go back to the struggle. Like you, I start off with a routine that quickly fades.

    So this week with your help I have done the 10 minutes on my recumbent bike for two days. It’s not a lot but way more than I’ve been doing. I think I’m gonna journal about my exercise. I need to write it down; tell somebody or just be honest with myself about what’s happening. Yes, the MS is slowly taking it toll. I recognize the need to fight and am trying to find the inner strength to do it.

    So tonight I’m pleased with the past two days. I’m hopeful about tomorrow. Helen

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    Helen, thank you so much because your comments just made my day. I am glad to know my words help to motivate someone besides me. Since I wrote this, I have been doing better with the exercise. I heard of a great FREE app that I put on my phone – MOVES – it is only available for I-phone right now but there must be something similar for other cell phones. It tracks my day through the built in GPS without using much of my data plan. It calculates how many steps I have taken and plots out where I have been that day. If you have a cell phone you might look into something like that. I look at this several times a day and it helps to motivate me to do more or to know that I am on track. I know they say 10,000 steps a day will help to lose weight, but that is a lot. I’m telling you about this because I think it is very important to keep track of what you are doing for the accountability. Right now, I can get to about 5,000. I’ll keep walking and you keep pedaling and between both methods I know we will make progess.

    BTW I really like your name – it is my mother’s name, too. ~Laura

  • Aubri328
    6 years ago

    I learned a while ago that my weekend “to do” list is more of a reference than a task sheet. I have also resigned myself to the idea that by writing it out it allows others to step in and take a load off of me. I also (one of the hardest parts) have had to learn that and unchecked incomplete list at the end of the weekend, is okay, really. I started blogging a few years ago out of frustration at first, to vent for all the things I didn’t have power over that MS seemed to take. Now those blogs serve as a reminder for what I have accomplished. Since my diagnosis I did have to leave my job, change careers, go back to school but in doing so I got my bachelors and my Masters, Not bad…. So while I feel like I hit the wall a lot, really they are just hills to a larger mountain I just happen to be climbing.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    I like that approach of renaming the ‘to do’ list. It is always depressing when it can’t have every item checked off. ~Laura

  • Mspbfh2
    6 years ago

    Oh, I can so relate! I know all the reasons I should exercise, and just can’t even make a commitment to start a regular program. I quit smoking (after nearly 40 years) four months ago and my weight has gone up and up. We have been remodeling and without a kitchen for four months so that contributed to the weight gain, but I hate myself right now. I am so very tired, trigimial pain is lurking, and my legs hurt…but, you have inspired me so I am going to take a shuffle around the block (can’t call what I do walking). And here is my commitment; not ONE more pound!

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    I’ve been shuffling, too. I had a few bad days this week and then it passed. Good for you for the quitting smoking – I know how tough that is from personal experience and it just proves how tough you can be. Please stop beating up on yourself – take a few moments to be kind to yourself. And here’s to no more pounds – you and I can both do this! REmember this is a marathon and not a sprint – we can finish this race if we do it one step at a time.

    ~Laura

  • jencandler
    6 years ago

    Hi Laura! I am 29 recently diagnosed April 28 of ms after losing vision in left eye. I’ve always been over weight but beginning of year I started working out regularly ..once I found out I had ms I stay working out..i think i stopped for three weeks because I had lumbar puncture..but I’m back and my physical therapist showed me stretches because of pain in legs to help me..I’m always tired but I pushed thru and you can too! We got this!

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    Thanks for being my cheerleader. I have been walking for the past ten days and focusing on what I am eating. You are right, we can do this!

  • Allan Miller
    6 years ago

    Can you back up a little to before you fell. Why did you fall? Was there an obstruction in the exercise area? Were you too tired to be exercising that day?

    I go to a seniors recreation centre and do fitness there three times per week (66 year old male, diagnosed with SPMS 8 months ago). They emphasize balance, strength, flexibility and core work. I think the big difference between this centre and fitness programs I went to when I was younger is on the emphasis on balance. And the necessity to put the whole thing together.

    Can the exercise facility at your work add this into their program or do they do a program that is generic and suitable for all ages, etc.

    I don’t think that just walking is enough because I have had to relearn how to walk and stand paying attention to my core and posture and surround hazards. A few years ago I fell really hard three times on ice (Canada!!). This was probably when I was in RRMS but wasn’t diagnosed. I really don’t want to fall again which is why I think the whole package is important.

    I can’t comment on the weight issue as it relates to women. I think that men get an easier ride on this. So long as we are tall enough and pay attention to dress, hygiene, keeping our shaggy hair and beards trimmed, stand tall, and smile, we get away with a lot! When we disrobe and get into the bouncy castle that is another story!

    Good luck with the neuro. If you did two days per week you got a pass (50%) and if you did three days a week you almost made the honour roll!

    Cheers!

    A
    ~

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    Al, that is a fair question. I fell the first time by tripping on an obstacle in the door way – those metal door stops on double doors – and it has since been removed by our environmental services people at work and that one was covered by workers comp.

    The second was when I was working out, one on one, with my personal trainer. We had finished a really good workout, specific to my MS needs, and when I got up off the floor and went to move, I didn’t realize my toes were UNDER the edge of the mat. When I started to move, my feet stayed planted and I went forward like a tree coming down. That one took several stitches to close the gash on my head that hit the concrete.

    You are so right about that man vs woman thing and weight. We do show it in such different ways. Thanks for the laugh – I will never look ata bouncy castle the same way. 🙂

  • Tommy Johns
    6 years ago

    I think everyone has broken commitments that they wish wasn’t they hadn’t but the one thing that is worst than breaking that commitment is never bothering to commit in the first place because we are afraid we might fail. And as we all know as MS patients any thing you lose is very hard or in some cases impossible to get back, so it is important that we keep moving. That being said I would like to share my exercise program. I can’t really walk I’m in a chair, my left side is about 90% paralyzed, I can make it a few step if it’s not hot and I got something to hold onto. So going for a walk was not an option for me. But I found out through the MS society that there is an aquatics program designed specially for MS patients in my area. It is a great way for MS patients to exercise and do stretches. You can make the exercises as easy or as taxing as needed to fit your personal situation. The Natural buoyance of the water helps keep you from falling so much, and if you do fall you don’t end up all scratched up and bloody and bruised. They also keep the water cool, 82-84 degrees, so you don’t get hot. The resistance of the water is great for toning muscles.
    Because of my mobility issues it is really about the only option for me. But like I mentioned it is very easy to raise the difficulty level to fit your own needs. The best thing for me though is it is made up of MS Patient so we visit and exercise at the same time so it ends up also being a great emotional support group too! We have all become great friends in the group I’m in and it is a very social time as well. Some like my self, that have some pretty severe mobility issues have volunteer assistants that stay right with us all the time. I highly recommend it to all MS patients I think it is a wonderful program and since it is a social event also it makes it a little easier to stick with it and we try to hold each other accountable too. Check with your local MS office and see if there is such a program available in your area. You might find it an easier commitment to keep.
    PS; Our class only meets twice a week however those without the mobility issues that I have and are able to be in the pool safely without extra assistance are allowed in as many days as they want during slack hours, IE lunch time or evenings. The cost is very minimal, where I go it is twenty one dollars a month.
    Good luck to you Laura!
    Tommy

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    I should have also added we have participants in various forms of MS, from those who ‘look so good’ to people in wheelchairs who haven’t walked on their own for a decade or longer. Everyone does what they can, as best as they can.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    Tommy, I was nodding in agreement as I read your reply because I run an MS Aquatics program and you are spot on – it is great exercise due to the water environment and a terrific social outlet. We take a break in August but will be back in the pool on Sept. 7. We meet once a week, but I can get in the pool at work regularly. I should do that more.

    thanks for the well wishes,
    Laura

  • Rhonda
    6 years ago

    If we are not careful this boats going to tip over because I’m in it too!! I was doing so good walking at 5:00 am daily then I became ill and lost my momentum. Boy is it hard to get that back!! Now that the evenings r cooler maybe that will help us get back on track!!

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    I think this boat is pretty full – thanks for the laugh. Cooler evenings should help but then it will be dark so early …. oops. There comes another excuse!

  • carrie7426
    6 years ago

    I am also in that boat…Ugh…as I look outside and the skies are beautiful and cool on a rare day in August…

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    Me too – the weather is perfect for the outside walking….
    As Kim might say – there’s always tomorrow.

  • Kim Dolce moderator
    6 years ago

    Laura, I can SO relate to everything you wrote, including the guilt trip. I’ll try to be inspired by your appeal. In the words of the procrastinator, there’s always tomorrow. But we could say as much to ease our guilt, too, right?
    Kim

  • Marilyn E
    5 years ago

    I have been rescheduling riding my Recumbent Lifecycle in the basement for about 13 years now. Probably time to sell it! Before my diagnosis I road it every other day for 20 minutes on the variable setting. I actually worked up to number 4 difficulty and that gave me a real feeling of accomplishment. Now I walk the dogs about 1/4 mile everyday but that’s the extent of the exercise unless you count gardening among the “move, stretch, dig, weed, prune” category of exercise.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    6 years ago

    Kim, i don’t procrastinate, I reschedule! LOL

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