We've all struggled with the motivation to work out at some point. Some of us still do - if that's you, read on!
The days of COVID-19 has plagued our lives with fear, uncertainty, and a lack of resources to follow through with many of our 2020 goals; in terms of fitness, shutting down gyms and sky-rocketing the prices of workout equipment "JUST as I was about to start working out again.”
For me, it was easy to postpone working out at home for a month, or two, or three...believing we would have this virus under control by summer and that I could pick back up in the gym then because TBH, I never really enjoyed working out at home. However, after five months of inactivity, and due to a variety of stressful factors including moving to a less accessible area and COVID-19, I seldom ate real meals and found I now weighed less than I had in the 8th grade! My friend even pointed out that I didn't look like myself anymore, and I sure didn't feel great either. That was my wake-up call. So I used the greatest resource available to me - I Googled “workout motivation.”
It really felt like a switch had flipped. I'm proud to report it’s been a good 3 months that I’ve stuck with working out ~3 times a week! This is the longest ever that I've been so consistent. But why is this time different?
Well, lately I've heard repeatedly that people are never just unmotivated, they are afraid to take the necessary steps. I agreed when I applied this to most things I've felt unmotivated to do recently, but in terms of working out, I'd say my only fear was facing the discomfort of getting out of my warm bed to do it. So I have another theory.
The reason for lack of motivation is because that task or goal is not a priority.
I can go deeper, but perhaps another post! But to put this into perspective, I went from having easy access to an upscale gym two blocks from my home and maybe making it once a week to working out in the tiny crevice between my bed and dresser and trekking through snow/taking a bus to get to my current gym 2-3 times a week. This is all to say developing a healthy lifestyle became a PRIORITY to me!
So if you truly desire to make fitness a part of your life, below are ways that I've finally gotten on track as well as tips that I’ve come across in my quest for motivation. (Hint: The last one is a BIGGIE)!
1. Recognize the WHY and keep that in sight
Do you want to increase endurance to finally run that 5K, lose weight to increase your odds of living longer for your family, sleep soundly so that you focus better at work, build strength to open a jar by yo-damn-self, improve your mood so that you don't kill your significant other, build your booty so that your friends stop calling you Spongebob? *phew* Keep that goal in mind. If you need a visual, write daily affirmations or create a vision board illustrating your goals, and place it WITHIN YOUR VISION as a daily reminder!
2. Find someone relatable to follow
Find someone whose journey you can mimic, and focus on realistic results. Is there someone you know that you can look to for inspiration? Like my uncle who retired from the military and still chooses to wake up at 6am everyday to work out. Or my cousin who has lived at the gym for as long as I can remember - even as a full-time vet student and now a full-time veterinarian.
If no one comes to mind personally, there is no shortage of fitness influencers these days! Sometimes following a fitness model can be intimidating, so look for their transformation photos. It may shock, yet encourage you to see where they started. Remember, if they can do it, so can you...just remember results don't happen overnight - consistency is key! At the same time, recognize every body is different. Some people have naturally wide hips and ample booty, some have a fast metabolism, and some just ain’t all real - don’t compare yourself to others, and do your research!
3. Add an element of accountability
Consider a fitness journal to log progress, a friend to check in with regularly, a gym buddy to meet up with, or a social media following to whom you want to profess your intent.* I use MyFitnessPal to help me track my food intake which keeps me hyper-aware of my eating habits (I am eating to gain, so can't just ignore the hunger pangs when I'm too lazy to cook anymore!)
Also, spending $$$ on gear, a program, a trainer, or meal plans may pressure you stick to it. Get excited to use those new resistance bands, wear that new matching set, or to try that new shake! I LOVE my pre-workout energy powder which cost me $$, so the only times I’m allowed to have it is if I’m going to put it to use!
*No, I don’t say “to whom” when I talk, but I am a grammar Nazi when I write…go ahead, I dare you to go through and correct my grammar....
4. Remove the friction
I am the poster-child for "out of sight, out of mind." I would never take my vitamins if I kept them behind a closed cabinet, and I would never drink water if I didn't keep a bottle by my bed (still working on that).
Keep your workout gear in sight. If you exercise at home, keep the yoga mat rolled out on the floor if you must! If you go to the gym, pack a bag the night before, and put it by the door. Spend more time in your workout clothes in general! Wearing your gym outfit around the house may prompt you to put it to use.
Cooking was also a huge hurdle for me (I have a small kitchen, and I despise doing dishes), but I realized meals don't have to be complicated! So I keep healthy easy-to-make staples such as eggs, tuna, whole-grain bread, peanut butter, bananas, blueberries, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and protein powder/bars on hand for times I don't cook. For those that don't mind eating the same thing all week, meal-prep once a week (generally Sunday) i.e. create a huge batch of one or two meals that will last you all week. I, personally, cannot do this. After day two, you could not force me to eat the same thing a third time...unless it's lasagna. *mmmm...call me Garfield*
5. Have a quantifiable goal
By this, I don’t mean obsessing over your weight or muscle gains, although regular progress checks are important so that you can course-correct sooner rather than later. Rather, create realistic performance measurements like lifting 10 more lbs per week or cutting your mile-run by 5 sec each day. Challenge yourself to always do more next time, and you will always have a new goal to work towards!
But don’t give up if you don’t reach your goal in the timeframe you set! Every journey is different, and by sticking with it, you are guaranteed improve over time – You are your only competition! I once set a goal of 10 pulls ups in 6 months in 2019 – I reached 8 in 8 months. That’s still better than where I started – ZERO!
6. JUST DO IT!*
I did it too: “I’ll wait until Monday, the 1st of the month, after this weekend’s crazy shenanigans so that I don’t lose progress. I’m so exhausted after work, I don’t have any time or energy to commit to this!” But this not what I want YOU to DO.
Just start! Whenever you start to debate between working out and something else, don’t give yourself time to think. Put the clothes on, turn on a video, and follow mindlessly. You don’t even have to do the whole thing - even 10 mins is better than nothing! If something else must take precedence that day, don't beat yourself up. Just try again tomorrow!
*I am in no way affiliated with Nike.
Our bodies are amazing - it works continuously for decades on end keeping us alive, fighting off illnesses, and repairing itself. It's capable of adapting, strengthening, and pushing past limits we set only in our minds. Especially in today’s climate, let’s treat it the way it deserves and get the most out of the one body we have!
What about you? What tips have you heard, or how do you stay motivated? What's been your biggest challenge in starting? Share them below!