“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar 1962
I love this quote by motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. It has an undeniable truth to it, one that is often overlooked. Motivation, much like happiness, aren’t static things, but rather a feeling or state of mind. Once you have found motivation, or happiness, this is no garuantee it will last from here on out. As a matter of fact, I will bet you it won’t. Motivation and happiness aren’t an end station, they are feelings that come and go. No-one feels deliriously happy all the time, which is why it is much more rewarding to pursue contentment rather than happiness, in my opinion.
As for motivating yourself for exercise, it’s a constant pursuit too. Once you are motivated, don’t fool yourself into thinking it will last forever. Also don’t try to hang on to it for dear life. Instead, try and empower your motivation each and every day. Find new motivation once it has passed. And most importantly- don’t beat yourself up over loss of motivation.
1. Find a way of exercising that you really enjoy
It sounds so simple, but more often than not people don’t really realize they don’t love their chosen form of exercise until it’s too late (I hate exercise! I’ll never work out again!). Asking yourself whether or not you really enjoy your exercise is something you should do not only when starting out, but continually. Preferences aren’t static, and may change over time or due to circumstances. Try asking yourself from time to time: do I look foward to this or do I dread it? How does it leave me feeling afterwards? Do I enjoy it in the heat of the moment, or do I just go through the motions? This should give you a good idea of whether or not you’re in it for the long run!
Together with finding the type of exercising you enjoy, also figure out all the other stuff. Do you prefer working out at 6Am or 6PM? Once a week of 5 times a week? You may want to aim for five times, but if you feel mental of physical tear from this, taper it down! It doesn’t matter how much you exercise, just that you exercise, and keep doing it until you’re 99.
Dog Yoga, anyone?
2. Feel the benefit
A great way for staying motivated is feeling the benefits of exercising. Exercise has a great influence on your mental and physical wellbeing, instantly and long term. If you’re new to exercise, try to focus on the more immidiate benefits: endorphin rush, feeling more fit mentally, being more in contact with your body. The longer you have been exercising, the more these instant gratifications may seem trivial and be taken for granted. On the long term you will be benefitting more likely from having a solid fitness level, experiencing less colds and flu’s, and mental clarity. Exercise for most people becomes a close friend somewhere down the road, a friendship that gives consistent energy!
Susan Grimes lost her son and her lust for life. Through exercise she regained strength,
physically as well as emotionally.
3. See the progress
This is an important aspect of exercise for most people, but comes in many different shapes and forms. Some get a high out of pushing out that extra mile, others love beating their own personal bests in time, while again others have bikini season in mind. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, all of these are good motivations to work out. With progress you just always have to keep in mind that there is no end goal. Progress should be the goal, not a goal in and of itsself. Goals are just beautiful sights along the way of progress.
When you start working out, you will see the most progress, whatever progress it is you are aiming for. Losing weight, gaining muscle, getting more endurance or agility, all of this will go so fast the first for months that it is very exciting and empowering. The skill is to appreciate also the much smaller progress you will make after that initial phase. Keep setting small or big goals for yourself, write them down, make them concrete, and be proud of yourself once you made it to yet another goal. If you get into a rut and see no more progress, don’t keep doing the same thing. Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, and expect different results. If after some months or years you plateau (and you will), it is time to renew your motivation, and with it your progress. Cross-train. Take a break. Set different goals within the same sport. For example, if you are a runner, and are in an endurance rut but only run long distances because that’s what you always do, kick yourself out of your comfort zone and start doing sprints, intervals or short trim runs. I’ll guarantee: you’ll see progress again within two weeks!
4. Set goals
Setting goals is, in my opinion, imperative for efficient workouts as well as staying motivated. We hardly do anything in life without a goal or some sort of plan behind it, so why should that be any different with exercise? If you run without a cause, I doubt that run will be very efficient. Unless your goal is to de-stress and enjoy the great outdoors, which is also a fabulous goal!
There are numerous types of goals. I just have one tip when it comes to goal setting, the rest is all up to you! Make your goal concrete. Don’t say: ‘I want to get fit’. What? What is fit anyway? And when? In 10 years? No. Better is: ‘In 3 months I am capable of running for 30 minutes straight. I also work out an average of three times per week’. There, that’s better. Meeting goals, big or tiny, will make you feel accomplished and content with yourself, instant motivation boost!
Not imperative but also useful tips when it comes to goal setting: write it down. hang it up. check-in midway. evaluate.
5. Stay ahead of boredom
If exercise to you feels like a chore, rather than something you enjoy, you didn’t run fast enough and boredom has caught up with you (har har, lame joke!). In all seriousness, this has happened to me so many times, and I can not guarantee you that with some clever tips boredom will never get the best of you. Tips 1 through 4 should at least help to keep it at bay for as long as possible. But if you can feel yourself slip into workout boredom (which is not the same as not feeling motivated for a workout once or twice!) and dread every workout, it’s time to shake it off.
Take a break. Depending on how much you workout, take some days, a week, or even (a bit) longer, off. Determine the length of your break, and in that time you are not allowed to workout. Yeah you heard me correct. It is not about not having to work out. You never have to work out, you’re your own boss. By denying yourself the pleasure of working out will renew your appreciation for exercise. In our minds we are all still 5 year olds: the word ‘can’t’ will spark in you the drive to want to workout, just as much as telling yourself you ‘have to’ workout kills your mojo.
Jedi mind-trick number two: it’s all about presentation. Don’t make working out something you have to do, but something you want to do (fake it until you make it!). Remind yourself of how grateful you are to have a healthy body and the opportunity to workout. Remind yourself of how great you’ll feel afterwards. See exercise as me-time, or alone-time, or time to figure out the meaning of life. Time to destress, or time to sweat your ass off, whichever you prefer. Make execise this incredibly FUN thing in your life, and not something you have to do (I cannot stress this enough).
Mix it up. That same 30 minute run can be sprused up by punctuating it with 30 second sprints every 2 minutes. Or by playing a game: today you have to pass at least three other runners. Or stop halfway to do 10 minutes of push-ups and other strength-training exercises. If you take gym classes, the obvious thing would be to try a new class. But what about jazzing up the same class? “Today, I will give a full 200%, even if that means I am dead tired after 5 minutes” (I love doing this and looking like a fool!). Or: ‘today, I will grab those 4k dumbbells instead of 2k’s”. Sometimes it is more than OK to really search for your boundaries and push yourself out of that dman comfort zone. Staying in your comfort zone is not working out, it’s zoning out.
Find a buddy. Even if it’s just for one hour a week, that’s already one workout down! Making friends in the park or at the gym (or online: hey bodyrock!) also falls under this category. If you take the same class or run the same lap often, try and make some contacts or maybe even a new workout buddy! You can motivate each other or simply slap a big fat grin on the other persons face, which makes every workout a lot more enjoyable!
I hope you have found this post helpful. It was at least very helpful to ME, to write down what I have learned over the years. I will definitely print this and practice what I preach .