How to Stay Motivated

Posted on by Annie Garrett. This entry was posted in Being Active. Bookmark the permalink.

It is week four of the Dare to Do program, and while only 8% of the population sticks to their New Year’s resolutions, I have reason to believe that you—yes you—are different. If you’re reading this, you’re probably faculty or staff at UW, recently named one of the best places to work, due in no small part to the wealth of wellness resources on campus. You may also be participating in the Dare to Do Challenge, and research shows that reporting on progress increases exercise adherence. But chances are, at some point this year, you’re probably going to hit a wall. An injury, a busy week, a change in childcare. Whatever it may be, will you slink away from it, or will you be prepared to climb it? Answering this question may be more important than you know.

I decided to check in with five faculty and staff who are long-term regulars of the IMA and ask what keeps them motivated. While each had unique and fascinating stories, a clear theme emerged: these folks have overcome previous failures to find lasting joy and meaning in their routines. Here’s how…

Remind yourself of the big picture.

“This may sound really silly due to its simplicity…for every day I work out, I draw a small red heart on my monthly planner calendar. The red heart signifies me being heart healthy, or me doing something I love, or me loving myself by working out. My family has a history of heart disease and my mother died far too young at age 63 from her second heart attack. The heart is thus a symbol for so much. And seeing a month filled with little red hearts every week — I try for 3-5 times — makes me smile. At the end of the month, I tally up the total number of days worked out vs. the total number of days in the month. It has paid off: I am the only member of my immediate family who has healthy blood pressure.”

-Kristi Johnson, Senior Investigation and Resolution Specialist, University Complaint Investigation and Resolution Office

Let fun prevent failure.

“I think it’s probably the endorphins working their magic and keep me coming back. I like intense classes like cardio kickboxing. Its physicality helps me get out of my head and relax a bit. Once I establish a routine and see the same regulars at a class, I am going to show up and commit. If I don’t get into the routine right from the start, I get flaky and lose motivation.”

-Maggie De Hoyos, Events Coordinator, Classroom Technology & Events

MM & Mag 018

Maggie De Hoyos (right) kayaking with a family member near San Juan Island.


“Running on a treadmill is dreadful to me, so I don’t force myself to do something that feels like a chore. I do activities I can look forward to, and there are so many ways now to exercise that can be fun: capoeira, kickboxing, dance, barre, trail walking, skiing, sports leagues, walking groups, workout classes at a gym or home videos, etc.”

-Paige, UWMC

Put your money on it.

“I tore my ACL playing basketball and then again skiing… My co-worker at UWMC really wanted to work out regularly but needed the support of a friend; she convinced me join the IMA in order to help her out (I did it all for her, not like I was getting a little thick in the middle or anything). Shortly thereafter, my co-worker got a new job with a new schedule at Harborview, so we couldn’t work out together anymore. The classes at the IMA have become my new workout friend, and this keeps me motivated … it helps when someone expects you to be there (the instructor). The workout is interesting and different; I don’t have to create my own workout, the classes are fun and a good workout. Another motivation is that the classes are AFFORDABLE! And I am frugal, so I don’t mind to pay for them, but I am sure to get the most out of something I’ve paid for!!”

-Teresa Busch, Oncology Social Worker at the Medical Center, Adjunct Faculty at the School of Social Work


Teresa Busch snowshoeing in Washington State.


Be your own hero.

“As a college student I lapsed into a sedentary lifestyle, getting my kicks purely from intellectual conversation fueled by vodka, cigarettes, and other stuff. I was up for the draft during the war in Vietnam in my early 20s, and when I was released from service due to poor vision I decided since I wasn’t going to get killed in the war I shouldn’t kill myself through inactivity, smoking, and bad food habits.  So I made big and lasting changes. Moving to the West Coast for grad school I discovered the outdoors and started running to condition for hiking, climbing, and x-country skiing. I’m going to be 70 in June, and have kept up that regimen since my mid-20s. I started running marathons in my mid-50s — I’ve done six, and hope to do one more.”

– Howard Greenwald, Clinical Professor in the School of Public Health

Howard Greenwald Manning Park BC

Howard Greenwald on the slopes of Manning Park, B.C.


“Main continuing motivator is how much better I feel, and how much more I can do now in my early 60s than in my late-40s and early 50s. There can be no going backward. I am coming up on the 10-year mark [of a healthy new lifestyle that lead to significant weight loss and health improvement] this June!”

-Gary Martin, Lecturer in Near East Languages and Civilization


Gary Martin practices handstand on Edmonds Beach. Gary shares his inspiring lifestyle change and before/after photos at


Apps, Apps, Everywhere!

The list of fitness apps seems like it has grown from a mile to a marathon in recent years! Here are the top three favorites from Amy Swanson, a local person trainer:

  • Map My Run tracks routes and runs, allowing users to measure their progress each time they use a route.
  • Strava is a cycling app that allows users to follow friends’ rides, and vice versa.
  • LoseIt! is a user-friendly weight focused app that tracks calories in and out.


As the New Year becomes not so new, and the resolutions become not so resolved, may you remember that here at UW, more support than ever before is just a hop, jump, or click away. Staying motivated is not just on you, it’s on us. The Whole U is doubling its offerings, the IMA is keeping membership fees low while increasing its drop-in class offerings. You can join a team to run for chocolate or beer. Good things are happening. Make this the year that you plan to fail and keep going. Make this the year that you find joy in healthy living. Let us help you make this the year that ‘staying motivated’ becomes mere routine.


Anne Garret and Lauren MandlerAnne Garrett (left) is a Fitness Coordinator at the Intramural Activities Building and a Whole U Ambassador. 


2 Thoughts on “How to Stay Motivated”

On February 2, 2015 at 3:14 PM, R said:

I’m about to have knee surger to repair a torn meniscus and to repair cartilage. I will have to stay off of that leg 6 weeks and will be on crutches. I want to stay active, and maintain my cardiovascular tone. I plan to do upper body workouts and to work the good leg and to ask my P.T. for ideas… Other suggestions?

On February 3, 2015 at 10:19 AM, Lauren Updyke said:

Awesome job on wanting to stay active! Your PT will have excellent suggestions so be sure to get specific core and upper body exercises from your Physical Therapist. Also be sure to make sure you are using your crutches with proper form and weight distribution. One suggestion would be to schedule your exercise time. Since you will be recovering it will be that much harder to fit it in. If you schedule your exercise while off for 6 weeks you will be more likely to do something. Stay positive and please keep us posted!

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