There’s a really good chance that you’re not living on a ranch where you have nothing to do but exercise, surrounded by motivation and encouragement. No, it’s up to you to summon your inner Jillian Michaels and talk yourself into getting your sweat on.
There you are, standing at that fork in the road, weighing your options– do you take the path that’s easiest, most familiar, and ignore the call to lift weights and break a sweat? Or do you head down that shorter path, the one on the hill, the one that will likely cause a little pain? How do you motivate yourself to move down that path that will lead you toward achieving your goals?
1) Have a plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Set aside a time every day to work out. Make it practical, and stick to it. This is an appointment. Don’t schedule other things during this time. That plan also needs to have a purpose. Don’t just say, “I’m gonna work out every day after work.” WHAT is that workout going to be? Maybe you head to an aerobics class Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, do weights Tuesday and Thursday, and ride your bike on Friday. Don’t just “wing it.”
2) Set a goal. You want to lose weight– how much? I’m on a quest to lose 30 pounds. If I lose the recommended 1 pound a week, that’s 30 weeks– nearly 7 months. No quick fix. Establishing a goal and recognizing the commitment needed to get there will help keep you from getting discouraged. You didn’t put the weight on overnight, it can’t come off overnight. I always recommend setting up benchmark goals. Rather than focusing on that 30 pound goal, I’ll focus on losing 10% of my current body weight, or 18 pounds. It’s still going to take me a while to get there, but it’s not so unsurmountable, and will help me stay motivated.
3) Get a workout buddy. Thanks to the virtual world, there are plenty of ways to go about this. You can find a group of people who enjoy the same types of workouts you prefer through a Meet-up. I’ve gone on hikes, bike rides, and runs with like-minded fitness enthusiasts. When you’re single or in a new town, these are great ways to meet new people and find new friends with common interests, and help keep you motivated. If you’re more of an introvert, you can also find fitness challenge groups on social media. Not-So-Fit-Girls Getting Fit is one example of a private on-line group of folks who check in regularly, participate in fitness challenges, and held hold each other accountable.
4) Make it fun. Don’t force yourself to do exercise programs that make you miserable. Try new things– mix it up. Janice had been told that running was the best way to burn calories and lose weight. So she jumped on a treadmill every day at the gym, hating every minute of it. Then, one day, a friend encouraged her to join her in a spinning class. Janice loved it. She took the classes every day, sometimes back-to-back. The weight melted off. Try a variety of things, even classes and activities that you would never think you might enjoy. You may find a new passion that lures you to the gym and motivates you to move in a way you never expected.
5) Forgive, figure, and forget. You’re going to mess up. It’s a speed bump, not a road block. You’re going to miss workouts, you’re going to eat something you’ll regret. Forgive yourself, and then sit down and figure out what led up to the failure. Had you skipped a planned meal? Neglected to drink enough water? Were you tired from going to bed too late? These triggers could lead to future obstacles– identify them, and avoid them so that you don’t falter again. Or, in the words of Arthur Ashe, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”
What helps motivate you to move?