Theory Proved: Willpower Is Hooey For Bike Rides | Exercise During COVID 19 Pandemic in 2021


Yeah, yeah. I know some people are so disciplined and driven that it’s unthinkable for them to not do what they “should” do, but that’s not me. From the number of anti-procrastination books out there, I’m guessing it might be you, too.

I lost almost 20 pounds last year, which was a major accomplishment for me. Let’s just say I’m impulsive and tend to pick the chocolate over the workout. That character flaw aside, I did get the job done and was doing fairly well at keeping the weight off until early this summer. In early July, I was feeling mushy around the middle and schlumpy. My biking had dropped off since my bike-a-day experiment and I had totally dropped my core workouts.

A quick visit to the scale confirmed by suspicion. I’d gone beyond that number on the scale that I said I wanted to avoid.

I didn’t want to lose ground, so I scheduled a couple of bike rides with friends, a few hikes with my family and asked my husband if I could sneak in a workout before he went to work in the morning.

After about two weeks of this, I noticed an interesting change. In those moments before I opened by eyes in the morning, I had the impulse to go for a bike ride. Or a short run. Yeah, that sounded perfect! Please note that these thoughts were coming from by head. The same head that was deliberately keeping my eyes shut at 6 a.m. a few weeks earlier with the hopes of catching an additional 15 minutes of snoozing.

It hit me. I wasn’t forcing myself every day to get out of bed or get on my bike. There was no internal trash-talking thinly veiled as motivation. The exercise was just happening.

Lord knows, this switch wasn’t due to discipline; it was about habit. I’d created a habit of getting out and moving, and now that habit was doing the driving, not its couch-sitting, sugar-eating, why-bother alter ego. I could easily switch back to my lay-in-bed habit, but the bottom line (no pun intended) was that it didn’t feel good. Getting out and moving felt far better.

As the weeks ticked by, this positive voice was consistently louder than the slacker voice, so I’ve gotten in a 100-mile workout week (mostly biking), I ran a 5k that I didn’t train for with my fastest time yet, and I’m hovering close to my target weight. 

No miracles or magic willpower here. Just a little habit that could.

Take that, willpower.

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