At the beginning of your fitness journey, lacing up your cross-trainers to hit the gym was a piece of cake, but even the most diehard fitness buffs can lose their steam from time to time. Only 23% of Americans get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week, and it’s little wonder why. Even the best fitness programs get repetitive, progress can be slow, and life always gets busy.
Whether your goal is to stay in shape or to drop a few pounds, read on for ways to keep yourself motivated and encouraged to reach all your fitness goals.
1. Find Your Why
Your reason for working out could be that you’d like to fit into an old pair of jeans or that you’d benefit from a boost in mood or a better night’s sleep.
Exercise does a lot more for your body than develop visible bicep definition or six-pack abs. Moving your body regularly has a multitude of benefits.
- Improves cognitive function
- Fights off depression and anxiety
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Strengthens your bones and joints
- Boosts your immune system
- It plays a role in controlling your body weight
Take some time to determine all your motives for getting and staying active, no matter how seemingly insignificant they may feel to you. The longer your list is, the more ammunition you’ll have to get up and get moving.
2. Pencil It In
With work, family obligations, and social commitments, your to-do list may seem never-ending. Rather than wait to find time each day to get a workout in, put it on your daily schedule along with all of your other essential tasks. If you’re not a morning person, take a brisk walk on your lunch break or keep your gym bag in your car so you can stop in and break a sweat on the way home from work.
Those working from a home office plan to have at least one workout intermission during the day in which you stretch your legs, queue up a HIIT video online or jog around the neighbourhood to get your heart rate up.
3. Set SMART Goals
Every fitness journey begins with at least one goal in mind. To achieve success and avoid discouragement, your approach to these goals will be incredibly influential when it comes to sustained fitness motivation. The SMART goal method is a powerful tool to help you focus your efforts on achieving what you set out to do. Each fitness goal should be:
Specific: If you’d like to lose weight or build healthier habits, define your vision as unambiguously as possible.
Measurable: Identify the metrics that will help you to track your progress. This could be a number on the scale or total calories burned per workout for a weight loss goal if healthier lifestyle habits are your aim, set up a trackable goal of 30 minutes of exercise per day.
Attainable: Take your current fitness level, lifestyle, daily schedule, and physical health into account, and set feasible goals that don’t feel too extreme or challenging.
Relevant: Not all fitness goals are created equal. What works for someone else may not work for you. Choose goals that feel sustainable and motivating for you, regardless of what or where you think you “should” be.
Time-Based: Give yourself a set amount of time to achieve your goal without either putting too much pressure on yourself to accomplish something in an unreasonable time frame or thinking too far ahead and risking a significant loss in motivation over time.
4. Do What Works for You
The more convenient, fun, and approachable an activity is for you, the more inclined you will be to stick to it. If you perceive a certain exercise program or physical activity as a chore, you probably won’t want to commit. Don’t pressure yourself to start a half-marathon training program if running makes you miserable.
You may find a workout program that excites and motivates you for a while but doesn’t hold the same spark that it used to after a dozen classes. Your brain and body need novelty and excitement to maintain interest in something, so if you feel your desire to hop on a spin bike waning, don’t throw in the towel altogether. There are many ways to stay fit, and it’s sometimes an ongoing process of finding what works for you at different times.
5. Team Up
You don’t have to do it alone. In fact, you’re less likely to give up when you have someone else depending on you. So enlist the company of a friend or two and join forces. Exercising with a companion can take many forms, such as working out with a personal trainer, a pet, a work colleague, a race partner, your kids (or nieces and nephews), or even a community group or class.
Finding a workout buddy is a great way to fit exercise into a busier schedule, too. Casual work meetings can occur around the track at the park, and quality time with your partner can happen on a hike or adventure in the mountains. If your motivation begins to falter, call up a buddy for a bike ride or a quick stroll. The more support you can surround yourself with, the easier it will be to keep pressing on.
6. Celebrate Your Wins
Your fitness journey may have a few end goals in mind, but the process is far more important than the product. Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, resulting in benefits that we can’t always see on the surface. So stay attuned to the many reasons you’ll have to celebrate, including consistent behaviour changes, improved health, and all the times you toughed it out when all you wanted to do was go back to bed.
Reward yourself with positive praise regularly, but it wouldn’t hurt to throw in a new piece of workout gear or an indulgent massage once in a while, either. Working out is not always easy, and you deserve a pat on the back for doing what it takes, even when the going gets tough, to take good care of your mind and body.