Just Show Up

Throughout the past 3 weeks or so of what has largely consisted of frustration and rough gym sessions, people keep asking me “how do you stay motivated?!” or saying things like “I wish I was as disciplined as you”. It’s easy to be motivated to do something when you actually like doing it. I get out of bed and walk into the gyms looking forward to spending time there and getting my work done – on most days. On other days, I’m tired and would rather sleep but with my current schedule, that really isn’t much of an option.  I don’t consider myself much of a “disciplined” person – but I am a very consistent person. I very rarely miss a gym session because 1.) I don’t want to and 2.) I’m flexible. I’m flexible enough to know that if I can’t do my squats on Monday, I can try and get them done on Tuesday instead. If I can’t do that, I can try and alter my Wednesday workout to do what is going to be the most beneficial. I’ll take time off if needed – but if I’m being honest, I’m really terrible at doing this and usually need someone to say “YOU ARE NOT WORKING OUT”. I’d rather modify and do what I can but sometimes, that isn’t an option.  I get frustrated. Really frustrated.


It’s tough to have a rough patch where progress isn’t happening at a such a rapid pace. Well, welcome to not being a completely untrained novice – you’re going to have to work a lot harder for a smaller reward, it’s going to be infuriating at times, but it’s going to be worth it. You’ll probably catch yourself saying things such as “Oh, it’s not as much as everyone else buuut I squatted this” or “I mean, it was only a 5lb PR.” or “It wasn’t as great as this person but I did this.” You can go ahead and stop right there because, no matter what it is, you worked hard and accomplished something. There is no qualifier needed. I don’t care if it’s an empty bar, if it’s progress, and you’re proud of it, you should celebrate it – no “well, it’s only..” needed. It’s easy to celebrate progress as a beginner – everything is shiny and new and bright. As time goes on and the PRs become few and far between, it gets more difficult to keep the same optimistic outlook. You need something to sustain yourself outside of an external reward.


I actually really like what Camille Leblanc-Bazinet has to say about the topic:

You Have To Be Relentless from XENDURANCE on Vimeo.

When I get extraordinarily frustrated (and I’m not injured or in need of a mental break),  I just simply show up. I know what I’m supposed to do that day, I do my best to do those things, but if it’s not there, then it’s not there. I make a note of it, take some time to look back and why it wasn’t there and what I can do next time to make it better.Throwing my hands up and saying “screw it” because I’m not PRing the crap out of everything isn’t an option. It just isn’t. And while I know the process isn’t linear, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel like just throwing in the towel after a particularly rough day, week, month. At some point, just showing up consistently turns into progress and the little things begin to add up. And while the temptation is to do more things – make it more complicated, do more volume, etc.; that probably isn’t your issue.

Momentum is a tough thing to counter – if you keep showing up, it gets easier to show up. While it may be hard to get started, it is easier to continue. The power in just showing up is that you keep that forward momentum. There are not starts and stops, there are breaks and detours, but you keep moving forward. So before adding in more activity, more squats, more banded chained clean complexes (I’m being sarcastic – please don’t do that), take a second to reflect on your consistency. Are you willing to just walk in the door and keep going without instant gratification? Simply showing up with some regularity will probably do much more than trying to complicate the crap out of something that doesn’t need to be that complicated.

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Comments: 9

  1. Sara from Sweden August 12, 2014 at 11:50 am Reply

    I think that often the reason I go train is because I cannot wait for that feeling of greatness afterwards. The more I train, the closer I am to that feeling kind of all the time. I love it!

    You look great by the way; so strong and fit!

  2. Barbara | Crisp & Crumble August 12, 2014 at 2:15 pm Reply

    Well written article, and very true :)

  3. Amanda Perry @ Sistas of Strength August 12, 2014 at 3:00 pm Reply

    This is really really great! I always talk about how just showing up is usually the best idea! It’s true in life and absolutely in training. In fact…it’s one of our core values at our gym. Show up even when you don’t feel like it. Like you mentioned, there are going to be days, weeks and sometimes even months when you’re not making the type of progress you’d like. You may start feeling like it’s not “worth it,” but then all of those small changes from showing up add up and you realize you’ve at least headed in the right direction. :-)

  4. Chris @ ifailedfran August 12, 2014 at 7:11 pm Reply

    This post spoke to me. It is frustrating when progress slows to an infinitesimal amount, but yet progress is still being made. Going from 0 to 1 or from 1 to 2 consecutively is not as “rewarding” as going from 8 to 9. But it should be. I’ll try and remember to keep showing up.

  5. Jen @Chase the Red Grape August 13, 2014 at 6:20 am Reply

    I am so bad for doing something and going ‘yes but … Lifted more’ or ‘ it’s fine but I’m still not achieving what everyone else does’ – but your right, it’s not the point, it’s about my progress. I need to remember that I was there, trying my hardest, giving it all I have and my result is to be celebrated and I shouldn’t put myself down. We all progress at different levels and stages, whenever I am down I look at my WOD book and see where I started at – that soon makes me feel strong and like a beast! :-)

  6. jennifer August 13, 2014 at 11:46 am Reply

    I always read your posts, and even though it was on my scheduled-to-read posts for the evening, Chris over at ifailedfran told me I had to read it- immediately- after I had a bit of a venting session about my day at the gym last night.

    I have no problem showing up, and finally learned the importance of rest days. But then it’s sometimes knowing that you are showing up and when it seems like you are doing everything right.. and then it doesn’t reflect in your progress; that is what is most frustrating.

    I admire you, Gabby, and love watching all of your progress with lifting, even though I don’t understand half of your strongman things, you are an inspiration to me.

    I think what I need to take out of this post is that there won’t be PRs all of the time and that by doing the work, things will trend upwards.. with patience..

    Thank you for sharing your own personal struggles with it; it’s nice to know we’re not alone in these thoughts!

  7. Katie@LifesNextBigStep August 18, 2014 at 11:44 am Reply

    This is perfect. You’re an inspiration and I love reading your posts! I always feel better when I show up. You’re so right.

  8. She Rocks Fitness August 18, 2014 at 12:57 pm Reply

    I agree with you 100% on all of the above…You rock woman! XOXO

  9. […] Just Show Up by Gabby at Gabby’s Gluten Free. How to stay motivated when you don’t want to be motivated. […]

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