How to GET motivated
So you want to get healthy? You want to lose weight? You want to look better in a swimsuit? That’s awesome!!! Finding the willpower to lose weight or get motivated to workout and eat healthy is actually the easiest part of the whole process.
You may find motivation in one of many things. Maybe you see a picture of yourself from now or from the past that sparks motivation in you. Maybe you’ve had a long-time goal of wearing a swimsuit to the beach without feeling the need to wear a cover up as well. For many people, wanting to be in shape to keep up with their kids and be healthy for their kids and other family members is a huge motivator. Often times a health scare can also cause someone to look to take steps to cultivate a healthier lifestyle for themselves.
What to look for first in a health and fitness routine
Are you healthy enough to do a workout/diet program? Many people actually feel like they are unable to maintain an exercise regimen due to painful joints, lack of endurance, or other health issues. While major health issues can be a cause for concern, the general idea is that the stronger your muscles are the better your joints will feel. Likewise, exercising on a regular basis can improve things like cardiovascular endurance. Starting a new exercise regimen may not be the most comfortable experience to begin with, but improve their basic health factors such as joint mobility or heart health will keep them going. However, if you do have medical concerns, following up with your doctor and having them review your routine is our recommendation.
Is your plan sustainable?
Sustainability is key to starting any exercise or diet regimen. Often times, we bite off more than we can chew. We go from not exercising at all and not tracking any of our food to trying to workout 6 days per week and severely restricting our food choices. Sometimes beginning with 30min workout 4-5 days a week and picking one well-balanced meal to repeat throughout the week is a great starting point! From there, you can increase the time you spend exercising, and slowly change your habitual food choices one by one. No need to overhaul your entire life. To make this sustainable and stay motivated, you should make it something that will fit into your life over the next 5 years, not just over the next 5 weeks.
Where to workout
Gym workouts vs. home workouts are all dependent on your financial resources and your comfort level. Nowadays, there are several gyms that offer memberships for $10 per month! However, not everyone can afford that or is comfortable in a gym setting. Doing body weight workouts at home with a few pieces of equipment (a chair and a jump rope provide so many options for exercises) is a great way to get in the habit of moving on a regular basis. Once you’ve built up some confidence in your movement, you may be ready to move into the gym setting. Another perk of gym memberships, is they often come with a complimentary health assessment or personal training session to get your acquainted with the facility. If they don’t, gym staff is usually trained to assist you with how to use machines throughout the gym.
How to STAY motivated
Photos are an amazing way to keep track of your progress. Often times, if you are trying to lose weight, the scale may have times where it stalls out for a few weeks. Using progress pictures throughout this time can help you see changes even if the scale isn’t going down. Seeing these small changes help you stay motivated on your fitness journey.
- Tips for awesome progress photos:
- Use the same clothing every time
- Same time of day
- Same lighting
- Same angle
Log your workouts
Logging your workouts can show you when and where you are getting stronger. Seeing yourself get physically stronger can be a huge motivating force for whatever activity you do. Even if you don’t see a change right away, knowing you are improving can help keep you motivated.
If you don’t lift weights and you hike or do yoga, for example, you can still keep a journal. Identify how winded you are (or how good you felt), which poses were easy, which were difficult, and where you’ve made progress from the last time around! Reflecting and seeing growth is a great way to stay motivated.
Set up non-food rewards for yourself
If you struggle with your relationship with food, planning non-food rewards is a great opportunity to reward yourself while turning your focus away from food. Massages, mani/pedis, facials, new workout shoes, etc. These rewards are for small goals along the way. One example of this is when you meet a specific strength goal, or an incremental weight goal, or an activity log goal, then you treat yourself to something that is not food related! One thing that feels great after a while is buying some new clothes that fit well. It can be hard to see progress in clothes that don’t fit will, but when you get clothes that fit it can really be a very motivating and empowering feeling.
Find an accountability partner
Sometimes having a friend to check in with helps out a lot. Maybe it’s someone who is going through, or has gone through whatever you’re working on right now – whether it’s losing fat or gaining muscle. This is a person you can easily contact a couple times a week if needed. They should be able to celebrate wins with you, and to commiserate when the going gets tough. Remember however, they should be able to lean on your as much as you lean on them!
If you really want to kick things up a notch and take all of the guesswork out of your journey, hire a coach. Simple as that. While it is an added cost, it truly is an investment in yourself. This person becomes your accountability person, helps you through struggles, and will call you out when needed so you can get out of your own head and out of your own way when necessary. They can also set you up with more specific tools for success than you may have discovered on your own, and can eliminate a lot of wasted time and ‘spinning wheels’ along the journey.
What to do AFTER you’ve met the goal
This is often not talked about… what happens when you DO reach that goal? You’ve gotten stronger, lost weight, you have more energy, and you did all of this by changing your habits of your life.
Chances are, you won’t maintain whatever you’ve worked for by reverting to old habits. You need to still keep your new habits and activities in place, but you can probably opt to lessen your activity slightly and increase food intake a little bit as well. Start experimenting with eating one meal per week without tracking, and weighing yourself the next day to see how it affects you. In time, you will find a happy balance that is unique to you – enjoying your life and maintaining your progress!
If that task seems too daunting, that is where having a coach is a huge help. Navigating life post-diet can be harder than the diet itself, and the extra help and accountability of a coach can be a massive benefit when figuring out what balance looks like for you.
Make a mistake?
More often than not, people fall off the bandwagon for one reason or another. You WILL make a mistake. But what happens when you do?
- Reflect: Why did you fall of the plan?
- Is the plan too intense?
- Do you feel too restricted with food?
- Did you have a difficult time navigating social events?
- Was work extra busy, or did you have extra personal life struggles?
- Eat your normal foods/calories the next day(s)
- Hydrate normally
- Workout normally
- Restrict calories the next day(s)
- Over-exercise to compensate for extra calories
- Do a ‘cleanse’ – your kidney and livers provide all the cleansing your body needs
It’s true that we can’t always keep a perfect training and eating schedule. Even professional athletes and competitors have seasons where the balance of fitness vs. life vs. work has to shift. We can’t give 100% of our time to every single area of our lives, or we’d never sleep! But you can shift your balance of focus in order to make your lifestyle sustainable. Our lives should not revolve around fitness, but rather, fitness should enhance our day-to-day life.
The REALITY of Motivation
Motivation is fleeting. It will get you started, but if you think you’re going to be motivated and ready to go every single day you’re wrong. There will be days you don’t feel like meal prepping or going to the gym. The difference of being successful or unsuccessful is when you stick with those good habits even when you don’t feel like it.
It took time to get out of shape, it will take time to get back into shape. Often times, it takes longer to lose the fat than it does to put it on. Sometimes when we don’t see results as quickly as we like we want to give up because we think it’s not working. Building muscle also takes time, so don’t expect to see lasting results after only 12 weeks. You need to keep going!
It’s the initial motivation that will allow you to build habits. Those habits then become a lifestyle that becomes EASIER to adhere to.
Habits that you can build:
- Making time to workout
- Preparing food for the week
- Drinking more water
Doing the things we know we NEED to do even when we don’t want to is called discipline. Discipline is what comes into play when motivation is lacking – building the habits creates discipline to get you through on the days you don’t want to do the work. This is where the magic of sustaining your results happens, over time, and with consistent effort.
The Bottom Line
When it is all said and done, what long-term success comes down to is sticking with your plan even when motivation is low. Give yourself the time and space to create habits, accept that getting to the goal in your head will take longer than you think it will, and imperfect consistency over the long term will win out over short term perfect efforts every time.