Habits, strategies and pro tips to keep your fitness inspiration burning.
Over the last 17 years working as a certified personal trainer, I have heard many questions from clients and others working on their fitness. By far the most common is probably the most basic: “How do I keep motivated to exercise?”
I think the key word here is “keep.”
You’ve welcomed 2020 with excitement and motivation, eager to start or continue your exercise regime and work towards your personal goals. With spring in the air and the welcome change in daylight and weather, it’s easy to feel stoked—to continue your healthy habits and get closer to our fitness goals.
Yet I have observed with my clients that as the year progresses, the flames of motivation start to flicker and it gets more and more challenging to stay inspired. This is a common pitfall because motivation will come and go. Here are some proven ways to stay on the path:
1. WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS
According to a study at Dominican University in California, people who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them. I invite you to take out a piece of paper and write down your goals. Post it up in a place where you will see it often to remind yourself of what you are working towards. Share your goals with your friends, family and colleagues (and, if you so choose, on social media). This helps to get you and others excited about your goal. Knowing your “why” will keep that fire burning inside you to keep going! Remind yourself of the reason behind your goals to keep the embers of the motivation fire hot.
2. PLAN AHEAD
Schedule your exercise by blocking off time in your schedule to dedicate
to your chosen activity. Committing this time for yourself and your health
is investing in yourself. Schedule time in your phone, calendar or however you manage your life. Block off periods for exercise, otherwise you will never “find” time to exercise. Scheduling time signals that you are making it a priority. This will help you on the days when you “don’t feel like it,” because those days will happen.
Next, have a plan B, because life will get in the way, things will come up and nothing always goes as planned. Having a plan B in place provides a back-up strategy for when these times happen, because, trust me, they will!
Lastly, remember you don’t always need a full 60 minutes to dedicate to exercise. Even 10 minutes is worth the to exercise effort. Don’t fall into the trap of “all or nothing” thinking. This trap is common. I have fallen into it too. We think if we can’t work out for 45 to 60 minutes or more, what’s the point? No! Seriously, grab 10 minutes and start there. You will feel better, and know that you are that much closer to your goals.
3. SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
Gather what you need to succeed! Get your workout clothes ready the night before, have your water bottle filled and your sneakers packed or waiting at the door. Set alarms to get up or remind you to get ready. Keep reminders of your goals in your calendar! If you work out with a friend or partner, ensure they are ready too.
Turn obstacles into opportunities. Anticipate obstacles to your fitness goals and get them out of the way! Identify challenges you might face as you work towards your goals. Develop solutions for each obstacle so you
are armed with ways to tackle these challenges when they arise. Admit
the excuses you use to get out of exercising, and be honest with yourself going forward.
Work your support network! Develop your support system and enlist them to ask you about your goals regularly.
Reach out when you feel less than motivated or are feeling challenged with an obstacle.
Enjoy it! If you don’t like your physical activity you won’t stay with it. Explore options, get creative with equipment, try new things and you might just find new activities to add to your list of things you enjoy! Join a new class, or several classes, until you find what you like best. Invite a friend to join you. Keep exploring ways to move your body and stay active.
4. REWARD, RESET AND REWIRE
Reward. As you reach your goals, reward yourself along the way with whatever reward system works for you. For some, that means new footwear or activewear. For others, simply telling others is the reward. Get creative! Decide for yourself what your reward system will look and feel like for you.
Reset. If you find yourself working towards your goal and you realize that perhaps it wasn’t attainable or another variable has changed along the way, it may be best to refine the goal for optimal results.
Rewire. If you find your inner critic gaining control, it may be time to rewire your mindset. Often times, perceived failures or hiccups in the plan can seem stronger than they really are. Remind yourself of the overall goal and give yourself credit for how hard you have worked to date. Reframe any negative language to move you closer to your goal in a kinder way. Affirmations, mantras and journaling can be helpful in this area. So can meditation and practicing mindfulness during the workout itself.
As you move further into 2020, remember the power of practicing gratitude. Value your body for what it can do and what it has done for you already. This is a wonderful way to build body acceptance, confidence and motivation. Pausing to appreciate how amazing the body is and what it is capable of will make you even more positive about your fitness goals. You may realize how much more you can challenge yourself.
Think about how exercise provides so many blessings: increased energy, improved sleep, reduced stress—the list is long! You’re not always going
to “feel like it” or be super pumped to keep going. The next time you feel it’s a struggle to get up and moving, remember what your body can do, and go do it! Because you can!
More Inspiration: Check out this other article by Doris on reclaiming your balance in life.
Author: Doris Ward is mind-body coach that helps others build their fitness, body confidence and resiliency through mindful movement, education and coaching. She is an award-winning fitness professional who leads running, goal setting and body image workshops, as well as specialized yoga classes for chronic pain management and for those who have experienced trauma. She is a regular contributor to Optimyz Magazine. You can read more about her work here.