Lauren Steadman, our Gym Buddies columnist, is a Paralympian, double World Champion paratriathlete and currently holds the European title, which she has won five times.
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What motivates you? Personally I’m motivated by the fear of failure, not being good enough and letting myself down. But while this might sound depressing, it isn’t - knowing my source of motivation definitely improved how I approached wanting to give up and helped me handle stressful situations.
Having one arm comes with preconceived judgements and for me physical activity became an avenue for me to prove to myself and those around me. Yes, I’m missing an arm but I am just as capable as you are, and the thought of failing at any task eats away at me inside. My current demon is to complete a one arm pull up: I will succeed.
January is hard and you’re not alone in losing your motivation in the second week.
After each Paralympic Games, I’ve lost the drive and hunger for training. Focusing for so long on one goal takes its toll and we all know results don’t happen overnight, so it’s easy to lose momentum. I overcome this negative attitude by being patient and listening to my body. I restart my training by doing a sport completely away from Triathlon, such as salsa dancing. A bit of variety and change of environment helps me regain a positive mindset and I find my passion for training returns not long after.
It’s easy to judge yourself against others, but you are on your own individual journey and no two journeys are the same. My athletic journey took 10 years of training and 748,800 minutes of persistency but I finally reached my goal: a Paralympic medal. Admittedly, it wasn’t quite the medal I had wanted but I had still achieved something I’d worked so hard for so long: the feeling was indescribable.
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No matter what your fitness goal, it will require a certain amount of sacrifice, dedication and motivation. As an athlete my life revolves around training, including nutrition, sleeping pattern and social time. It’s hard because sometimes we have to give huge amounts of time and effort, for such incremental rewards and moments in time. Six months of continuous dieting to lose only a few pounds, weeks of ignoring the fatigue in your legs as you climb the stairs or endless press-ups for those sculpted biceps.
I’ve found that it’s not about whether you want to do something or not on a daily basis, but finding the strength to visualise that one moment where all your sacrifices and effort come together. Whether it’s squeezing into those old and trusty favourite pair of jeans, taking up a new hobby or running a local 10K, it’ll be worth it. For me, receiving my very first world title medal with the national anthem playing made all my sacrifices become irrelevant.
Once the initial excitement of beginning a fresh routine, or the honeymoon phase ends, it becomes easy to use excuses to get out of committing towards your goal. I don’t always wake up bubbly and eager to train, sometimes the temptation to roll over and stay in my nice, warm bed is extremely hard to overcome. The key is finding that one thing to motivate you: I found picturing my race start helped dragged me out of bed. I knew that if I didn’t get up and train, I would never end up on that podium.
ParalympicsGB is the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team competing at the summer and winter Paralympic Games.
We know that the outstanding performances of our athletes have a powerful impact on the British public and can shift perceptions of disability in society, helping to inspire a better world for disabled people. Find out more at Paralympics.org.uk