by Sonja Wieck
Bold Betties Note: We had the pleasure of sharing the stage with this incredible woman at a recent Vela Adventures' "Women in Adventure" Speaker Night. We were so moved by some off the things that came out of her mouth ("I give you the permission to relentlessly believe in yourself to the point where you are annoying."- ha!) that we just had to have her share some of her gems with us. (Turns out, she is starting a whole 10-day challenge series on Tuesday that you should totally check out after you read and comment on this awesome post. teehee). Now, keep in mind that she is an IronWOman and we totally bow down to her badassery...but what totally endeared her to us the most that she said at one point, "I was just a girl who wanted to be in the outdoors" and regarding motivation, "I struggle with it every day." We adore Sonja because she is so authentic and SUCH a Bold Betty. We thank her for her inspiring words, being real, and sharing it with us.
Hi! First off a huge thank you to Bold Betties for asking me to write a little ditty for this great blog! I’m a lover of the blogs, and I especially enjoy hearing about women getting into the outdoors and pushing their perceived boundaries. It lights me up!
I’m an Ironman triathlete and boy do I love being outdoors, chasing big goals, living life full of adventure, and traveling the globe. Over the years I’ve amassed 15 Ironman finishes, and 5 Kona Ironman World Championships worth of tough lessons learned about life, love, boundaries, and what it means to fight for what you want. These days I can be found chasing the fun and adventure on the way to building the machine that is my body, and also helping other athletes carve their own unique journey in the sport. But it wasn’t always that way for me.
Back up the truck a few years, somewhere between Ironman #4 or #5, I got bit by the SACRIFICE bug. As I watched the progress I was making in the sport rise with my level of investment (financial, emotional, and physical) I started to get the "more is better, more is faster" ideology. You know it, right? The GO BIG OR GO HOME philosophy that hard core endurance sports and Instagram accounts make us believe is the ultimate requirement for athletic success. I raced down that path for a few years, only to find myself knee deep in a disastrous cycle. Sacrifice more - be afraid it won’t pay off - invest more - lose what you loved about it in the first place. My race results hit an ultimate low in 2012 during a race in Kona riddled with strategic, confidence, and nutritional mistakes. I had sacrificed much, risked much, with little payoff. What gives?
As we often learn, the biggest let downs of our lives become our greatest teachers. When we are walking the run course with our heads low in shame, marred by defeat, watching people thrive all around us, a switch gets triggered. In those moments in life you either have an "Ah-Ha!", or you quit the sport.
My "Ah-Ha!" came in the form of some new rules for myself, the first one being that I refused to let myself step out the door to exercise, AKA “train” if I wasn’t motivated to do it. No more sacrifice, no more going BIG, no more forcing it. I was done with that way of life. This worked great for the “off-season” winter months where training was easy going, and it was fine to skip a session here or there.
But eventually the meat and potatoes of the season hit and I was faced with a crazy conundrum. There were workouts that I needed to get done to make progress. I knew that doing them was important to me, to my values and integrity, but I didn’t actually want to do them. Old Me would have forced myself out the door, relied on the future vision I had for myself, promised myself a bowl of ice cream afterwards (raise your hand if you use food for motivation…whole other blog post there), but New Me wasn’t allowed. I was at an impasse with myself.
A little bell dinged in my head. What if I had a way, a method, a routine, a process...heck a magic spell would work, that transformed me from not motivated to motivated without having to engage my willpower (I call it my mojo). Mojo-free motivation! That’s what I needed. That and a unicorn..and a cute little Tinkerbell-like fairy that would go on all my runs with me. Yea, that.
Fortunately, through some research, some soul searching, and a boat load of fun, I figured out how to game the system.
Motivation isn’t something out of one's control. It’s not something you wake up with or only have when you attach it to something you deeply believe in. Nope, motivation is like getting dressed in the morning. You wake up not dressed, you follow a set of steps that get you dressed like putting on socks, maybe a bra, heck, PANTS, if you are feeling up to it, and after a set of steps…Voila...you are magically dressed. “Not Dressed” to “Dressed” in 8 easy steps.
I figured out that motivation works exactly the same way. After some tweaking and fine tuning (you have to do this with getting dressed too: bra after a sweater tends to be a no-go), I found a routine that successfully takes me from unmotivated to motivated every single time I launch it. It’s fun, too...and requires zero mojo.
I thought I would share it with you Bold Betties today because I think most of us struggle with getting motivated. Now, don’t you go and steal my routine, create yours, do the tweaking, figure out what’s fun and engaging for you. If you are using mojo, keep tweaking.
Here’s what I do:
1) I have an Energy Amper playlist, I turn on that bad boy and get it going. This takes zero mojo. It’s easy…just hit play.
2) Next, I text a friend and ask them to text me something motivational in 15 minutes, this gets me just a little excited because I feel like a present is headed my way.
3) I find some caffeine and get that in my belly (Did you know they have chocolate squares with caffeine?…oh yes…mind blown!)
4) Then I put on a piece of clothing that reminds me of what I’m training for: either my race shoes or what I call my “magic hat.”
5) Finally, I strike the power pose for 60 seconds. You know it: hands on hips, superwoman style! About then my motivational text pops up on my phone, and without a doubt, every single time, without fail, I am motivated and ready to go exercise, train, move my body, have an adventure.
Since finding success with this concept I have started to overhaul a few different areas of my life. I now think of desired feelings as opportunities for new fun engaging routines. Confidence? Focus? Calm? Energetic? How can I craft a routine that will get me from Lack to Abundance?
As a result, I’m still out there on the race course: 3 Ironmans in three months this summer, in fact, but there is an extra sparkle in my eye now. It’s the sparkle a girl gets when she has the luxury of saving up all her mojo for race day. The journey has become fun and adventurous, the reason why I started seeking play time in the outdoors in the first place. The results mean less to me, but somehow they keep getting better and better.
A sense of adventure, a positive can do attitude, and an intention to connect with her soul has propelled Sonja to incredible performances in her amateur triathlon career. Ranked #1 in her age group by USA Triathlon 2 years running, she is a 5 time Kona Ironman competitor, and holds the amateur course record at Ironman Arizona and Ironman Lake Tahoe. While these accolades are impressive, they are not why hundreds of people look to her for inspiration.
It is the badass truth telling of her journey on her blog, GoSonja.com. It is here where she shares the agony in defeat and celebrates the breakthroughs that come after. It is where hundreds of followers have been able to see their own possibilities and have been given permission to explore their own journeys. It is the place where we learn that being every little bit ourselves is where confidence is birthed.
Sonja recently made her 5 year coaching endeavor official with the launch of Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching. She hopes to share her experiences and all of her hard fought lessons with others to help them find what it is that floats their boat so they too can propel themselves to their own incredible performances!