The route to success – when it comes to any fitness regime – is discipline, but the supportive pillar behind this is motivation. The truth is, we’re all human and despite our best intentions, we can sometimes find our motivation dwindles. The key is to accept that pitfalls are likely; these needn’t eclipse your efforts if you nip them in the bud and come up with a strategy to tackle them.
Below, I’ve listed my top five tips for staying motivated. These aren’t necessarily supported by science; rather, they’re based on experience that’s either personal, or passed on by those in the health and fitness industry.
1) Set realistic goals
If you focus solely on the end result, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed – even if initially, it gave you that ‘Yes! I’m going to do this!’ feeling. If your goal is to say, gain a stone in muscle, it’s much more productive to focus on each few lbs you gain, rather than the ultimate target. This way, each little milestone feels like an achievement by its own merit, rather than a reminder that you’re not quite there yet.
2) Follow inspirational people
The idea of sticking a photo of your former, svelte self attached to the fridge is a bit ‘meh’. I suppose it’s meant to deter you from burying yourself in an avalanche of Doritos and dips. If you think this could work for you, then by all means – try it, but personally, I feel it’s coming from a ‘deprivation mentality’; it doesn’t do anything to instill a sense of confidence. Instead, I suggest following inspirational persons and helpful mentors – not literally, of course (that’s called stalking) – I’m referring to social media! You can pick up tips regarding their routines, nutrition, how they handle set-backs, and witness their transformations.
3) Invest in some new gear
Comfortable clothing is essential to your training, but investing in some new gear can help to spruce things up. When you buy a new outfit, it tends to lift your spirits, yes? Well, the same can be true for exercise; you’ll associate this positivity with your sessions, and it’ll reinforce your efforts. Try it!
4) Get a training partner
If you currently train alone, try teaming up with someone; this can help you to get back in the right headspace for exercise, since you can support each other in sticking to your sessions. For practical reasons, training with someone can be beneficial, i.e. with spotting, and guiding each other through sets in the gym, or running achievements, classes etc. You’re also less inclined to skip days, since you won’t want to let the other person down (and vice versa).
5) Change your routine
Whilst structure can be a good thing, monotony can kill motivation. Try introducing some new exercises into your routine to jazz things up, or introduce a class/other type of activity. Even a change of setting can make a world of difference. For example, if you always do your cardio sessions on a treadmill, try doing them in the park (weather permitting), go swimming, or try a HIIT class.
When it comes to nutrition, try varying your meal plan a bit – this can be something really simple, such as adding mango to your breakfast smoothie instead of raspberries, or grilling a piece of salmon instead of chicken. Opt for a different flavour protein shake and/or pre-workout, too. Little things can make a big difference.
Lastly, try changing your iPod playlist! If music be the food of love… it’s got to work for exercise, too!