Monday, February 17, 2020

8 Ways to Stay Motivated for Your Workouts

8 Ways to Stay Motivated for Your Workouts

I am no fitness guru... In fact, I am probably the world's worst workout procrastinator. Personally, I can find pretty much any reason in the world to keep from going for a sweat sesh if I really want to, but I've been doing so much better over the past three years with prioritising my fitness and it's changed my life. It's been a journey to say the least - nothing groundbreaking happened overnight and at times it's been a real struggle. The progress has been slow and gradual, but looking back I'm so happy with every small change I made that got me to where I am now. Motivation has been the biggest challenge for me... It's super easy to get distracted with work, life, social activities or anything else that's happening day-to-day. Schedules are tricky, energy levels change like the weather and when progress is slow, it's hard to stay motivated because you can't always see the results or the change in an obvious way. Even now, I'm a lot stronger and fitter than I was 3 years ago, but occasionally I can't see it or feel it. It's not enough. Sometimes I have to remind myself how far I've come and how I couldn't see what was happening then, so it's not surprising that I can't see it now. Other days, I fail at this completely, cancel my workout and order a pizza because I feel defeated. And you know what, that's okay because sometimes it's just what I need to remember how great it feels when I get my workout in, even when it's raining, I'm tire and I really don't want to... The reward is almost always greater than the struggle.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share my tips for how I stay motivated to work out, even when I really don't want to. I don't think I've figured out anything groundbreaking here, but I'm of the opinion that whatever works is good enough, especially when it comes to getting things done that are good for us. These are some of the options that have worked for me in the past... I hope at least some of them will be helpful for you too!

"Will is a skill." - Jillian Michaels

1. Just get there and then, 5 more minutes...
My number one goal most of the time is just to show up. It's not warm here in London, so often the idea of going out into the cold feels overwhelming, especially in the morning when I'm tired. I often tell myself that I just have to go and if I don't get into it after 5 or 10 minutes, I can leave and that's okay. Usually I'm over the hump by the time I get on my way, but occasionally I am still not in the mood once I get there, so then I say to myself to give it 10 minutes. Sometimes I get over it and sometimes I don't, so I say to myself 5 more minutes and that almost always works. I find that for me personally, once I get my headphones on, get the stretching out of the way and really start moving, I'm good to go. Very rarely, I'll be working for 10 minutes and still not feel it. In those cases, I try 5 more minutes and if I still feel out of sorts, I let it go and head home. We all have bad days sometimes, but more often than not, the very act of getting there is the only obstacle I need to overcome, even if it means taking an Uber to stay out of the rain.

2. Dress for success.
If you're someone who loves to look fierce for work or social activities, you can apply this to your workouts as well. Invest in some great activewear pieces and only allow yourself to wear them when you're working out. Embrace your inner fashionista at the gym - new gear will get you excited to get your sweat on, especially if you aren't wearing it anywhere else.

3. Get it over with...
This has been majorly helpful for me... I have noticed that the more time I have to think about working out, the more I put it off or try to find something else to prioritise in its place. Most of my workouts are scheduled and have consequences to cancelling late and I find this really helps me get there. Pilates classes, aerial fitness classes, dance classes I've already paid for, private lessons and dance practice sessions are pretty much what I do for workouts most of the time and all of them have to be scheduled in advance, which is one of the reasons I've chosen these options. Whatever works, right?

4. Pump up the volume!
If I'm going to the gym or out for a long walk by myself, I can't get moving without a great playlist. I like to listen to music that inspires me to move with a range of tempos so that I can vary my pace. This is what works for me, but make sure you're listening to music that will inspire you to go and get a good workout. If classical makes you want to run like a gazelle, then that's your jam. If you need more of an angry, hard-rock vibe to get you fighting fit, that's cool too... It's whatever inspires you to do your best workout.

5. No regrets...
There's no shame in skipping a workout - we've all done it (3 times this week!). In my opinion, it's especially no big deal if there's a good reason for it. Whether you're sick, overwhelmed or just in need of a break, it's all good, but make sure you're making a promise to yourself to get back to it as soon as you're ready. We all get sick sometimes or life gets in the way, but feeling like you're a failure after missing one workout or even a week when you're unwell is the quickest path to completely losing motivation and giving up altogether. Just jump back into it when you can and keep going.

"Wake up, work out, kick ass, repeat..." 
- unknown

6. It's an accomplishment we can control and feel good about.
When I feel as though nothing is going well, politics is stressing me out, I've had a bad day at work, the weather is terrible or any number of things beyond my control are getting me down, I have learned to take it to the gym or studio and leave it on the floor. It's something I can control when everything else seems to be in a tailspin. I've heard a lot of people say that valuable fitness time helped them get through a tough time at work, a bad breakup, an emotional crisis, stressful current events or simply a bad personal time. You may not be able to control whether or not your electric bill is raised, but you can control whether or not you show up for yourself and some days, just getting one thing right is enough to make everything okay. It's also helpful to know that you're training and getting stronger for your struggles because the healthier you are, the better you can deal with whatever comes your way.

7. Treat yo'self!
We've all been warned about treating ourselves for workouts with food, but that doesn't mean we can't treat ourselves in other ways. I sometimes reward myself for my fitness progress with all sorts of different things like new workout clothes, a nice new water bottle for the gym, a new gym towel, a new cookbook, a lovely bath soak to soothe my sore muscles, a massage or even something small like a smoothie or a fancy bottle of artisanal water. Rewarding yourself for a job well done is part of the fun.

8. Make it social...
Get a gym buddy, go to the gym with someone in your family or make friends at the gym. If none of these are an option, there's always social media... Enlist a friend or family member to help you stay accountable, Facetime each other from the gym or even do your home workouts together via Skype. Have a chat or a coffee once a week to discuss your progress. Having a friend to help keep you accountable is a great way to make sure you get moving even when you don't want to.

These are my tips for staying motivated to work out or hit the gym. What are your tips for how to rally when your motivation is a bit low?

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