Many times, when people hear that I work out a minimum of 5 days a week, sometimes more, and then they hear the time of day that I work out to do it, they often wonder, “How in the world does she do it?” The next question usually is, “What keeps you so motivated? Aren’t there ever times when you would rather just skip it or stay home?” Now, I know you might read what I say next and say to yourself that I’m full of crap… buuuuut, to be very honest with you, I’m never not motivated to get a workout done. Some might consider this an anomaly, but at this stage, the only thing might stop me from training is not being able to wake up in the morning. My training sessions begin at 5 am. There are days when I am very sleepy and would much rather stay in bed only for the sleep, but not because I don’t want to train… if you catch my drift. However, I wasn’t always at this stage, mentally. It took me some time to develop this level of discipline as well. The only way to remain consistent is when your level of DISCIPLINE trumps the motivation. Motivation will come and go like waves approaching the shore. However, when motivation is little to none, your discipline has to kick all the way in.
However, many of you reading are not like me, and you’re reading this because maybe you’re looking for that motivation to jump start things until you’ve developed the discipline level needed. I will emphasize that it does take time, but if you do the following things, you’ll be up and at it in no time.
Give Yourself Permission to Do the Bare Minimum
When I began my fitness journey, I used to have the time to work out only in the evenings after work or very late nights. After long days at work, grueling commutes home, helping my son with homework, shuffling him to and from after school activities, etc. one of the last things I wanted to do was go and work out. I would skip sessions that were already paid for (yep, not smart) just to lay around. Granted, there were days when I was really drained and my body and mind probably did deserve the rest, but more times than not, I really probably should have just gotten up and done it. So I began something that I read about in a magazine and it helped TREMENDOUSLY. The next time you want to skip a training session, just tell yourself that all you need to do at each stage is the bare minimum. I would start with, “All I need to do is get dressed and make it outside.” Once I got outside, the next bare minimum thought would be, “When I get there, if I don’t feel like going inside, I give myself permission to just turn back around and come home.” Now at this point, after using my time to get dressed and drive out, I would just go in because, what a waste, right??? I can pretty much guarantee, once you’re there, you’ll stay. Then give yourself permission to only do a warm-up and leave. Even if that’s all you’ve completed, you’ve gotten some sort of physical activity in. If you opt to do more and actually complete a full routine, you’ll realize it wasn’t even that bad, and better yet, it probably wasn’t worth skipping.
Shift Your Mindset
Training and working out should be seen only for what they are and not as punishment for eating bad food, or for overeating, or for being overweight, etc. Burning calories and weight loss are great by-products of maintaining a fitness routine, but they should not be the total end goal. If you start to see your exercise as a celebration of the things your body is capable of, I promise you will be more motivated to keep up your efforts. When I first began working out, I often approached it from the standpoint of, “Damn, why did I just eat all of those cookies?” or “How in the world did I just make that pint of ice cream disappear so fast?” “Now I have to work it all off by doing xx minutes of xx exercise.” Exercise should be seen as training to be your next best self, increasing your strength, being grateful for the gift of movement that so many of us take for granted, and being happy to accomplish things you couldn’t do when you started.
Work Out with People Who Will Cheer You On and Perhaps Offer Healthy Competition
There are days where I enjoy the one-on-one solitude of working with my personal trainer, but there are days when working out in my group sessions are exactly what I need to get me through the toughest, most grueling sets. Those times where all you feel are your legs ready to give out on you under a heavy squat (by the way, I hate squats :-)) and you have people standing behind you yelling your name, banging on the floors, and jumping up and down when you’re stuck at the bottom. It hypes you up enough to give it all you’ve got to get up and finish, and accomplish what you thought was impossible. The energy of group fitness can work wonders in the moments that you want to quit. A good gym buddy might also egg you on in a little bit of healthy competition by pushing you to safely go up a weight, run an extra 30 seconds, complete a few more reps, etc.
Monitor Your Progress and Remember Why You Started
When you begin a fitness journey, it’s so easy to want to crave completion… the chance to say, “I made it! I lost xx pounds!” However, in order to stay committed to the work that matters most in getting you closer to your destination, you have to find ways to measure, track, and feel good about the incremental progress you make while traveling that road. You can do this by taking intermittent photos of your progress (for example monthly), or measuring the size of certain body parts, or by trying on clothes that haven’t been as flattering, etc. Don’t depend strictly on a scale either! It’s also important to remember the reason why you decided to embark on this journey. Was it for general health? Was it to be able to complete 20 push-ups without stopping? Was it to lose weight or to build bigger biceps? Was it to look better naked (wink wink)? Try to remember the reason(s) and whether or not you’re willing to throw it all away by not being motivated anymore.
Find What You Love and Make it Your Favorite
Let’s be honest: a fitness journey is tough and not for the faint of heart. Exercising hurts and will make you feel out of breath. It can be difficult to find it enjoyable. I find, however, that because we tend to link exercise to external rewards, it’s more difficult to do it for sheer enjoyment. Think about going to a restaurant that is always crowded, but the food is superbly delicious. Every time you go, the wait is at minimum, an hour. If this is your absolute favorite place to eat, you are willing to sacrifice putting up with the discomfort of the crowds, hunger pangs, and long wait times so that you can have that delicious meal. The reward outweighs your lack of comfort. Your fitness journey can be viewed exactly the same way. The only way to actually find what you love is by doing things despite the discomfort you feel during a training session. At the same time, you have to try new routines, and those may also cause temporary mild displeasure. However, in doing so, you may discover that you actually enjoy what you’re doing, and you enjoy it enough that it becomes one of the things in life you look forward to regardless of what you have going on in life. You have to be able to determine your training preferences and find the type of fitness that sparks life into you. If you haven’t found that yet, you haven’t looked enough places. So keep looking.
When it’s all said and done, having a positive attitude when it comes to working out, finding activities that will become habits, and developing discipline in your journey are the biggest factors in reaching success. The rewards will be an improvement in your mind, body, and overall well-being. Who doesn’t, at the very least, deserve that?
These tips simply scratch the surface… feel free to follow me on Facebook (Very Bessie) / Instagram & Pinterest (@verybessie) for more!
2 thoughts on “How to Stay Motivated to Begin / Maintain a Fitness Regimen”
You are right that you need motivation and discipline . My motivation for working Out is to remain slim and healthy . You also need discipline to to get you off the couch when you just don’t feel like it.
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Exactly! Discipline always wins bc motivation comes and goes! Thanks for reading! Xoxo