It can be extremely scary to start something new. Everyone knows that change is usually a challenge. Although challenges can be looked upon with a down-turned face, I am hoping you look to exercise as a challenge with an up-turned face.
Exercise is one of those things that can send us running (who am I kidding? I mean, leisurely walking) in the opposite direction. We may find some motivational website/article/picture that gets us really pumped to start something new. We’re ready to rock, we are going to look like that superfit woman, and we will never, ever veer from this training program for the rest of our lives. After about day 18 you’re saying to heck with this crap; it’s not uncommon so don’t beat yourself up for not sticking to a program.
But why are we not staying motivated? Why are we constantly doing this yo-yo thing with, “Yes, I’m going to change my life today and forever.” and the “I think I’ll be okay if I skip my workout today…and for the next 3 months.”? It can be very disheartening when we don’t feel comfortable, confident, and pleased with what we are doing for our exercise regimen and I want to help you.
I’d like you to write down your personal goal for exercise/health/lifestyle/whatever. Then ask yourself why and write down your answer. Then ask yourself why again and write down the answer. You may have to ask yourself why one more time, or maybe more, to really get to the root of your goal.
If you have a goal to lose 10 lbs I hope you know why you want to lose that amount of weight. Like, what does 10 pounds really mean? Who cares? Do you care? I hope you do because that’s what you are saying your goal is. You need to find a drive, a push, a power, whatever you want to call it, that puts you in the right mindset. That mindset is what will keep you going when you don’t want to. It will remind you of why you are doing what you are doing and where you want to end up.
That goal must be around us on a daily basis helping us make good decisions. Your goal can be written on your bathroom mirror, on the fridge, by your closet. Your goal could be put into an inspiration board, where pictures and words are collaged, helping you visualize your goal. We usually start to flounder when we don’t remember what we are working for, or we lose interest in the goal we made. Motivation has to occur on a daily basis. Every day is not easy; you will not have the same excited mindset all of the time. If you do, you are a superhuman and I want to learn from you. That’s why getting to the root of your goal, the root of WHY you want to change something, is so important.
When you have chosen a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely, you will be held accountable to a higher level. It is right there in front of you and you have specific guidelines to follow in order to reach that goal. Example: I want to lose 10 lbs in 8 weeks, doing strength training 3 days a week and metabolic conditioning 2 days a week, getting 80 oz. of water a day. In that goal you list what you need to do and what you are aiming to achieve.
I want you to also think about what happens when you get off track with your goal. What will happen when you don’t get that workout in? Or you get takeout instead of making your dinner? Plan ahead for setbacks. Once you skip something or do something bad it’s much easier to do it a second time. Keep checking back in to your goal to keep you in the right frame of mind.
Rewards also come in very handy when working towards something. As humans we like to compete and get something once we finish. It’s like the fabulous snack after the AYSO soccer game. I hope that the snacks have gotten healthier then they were when I was a wee lassie. Rice krispie treats are not so ideal for a post workout snack but that will be another topic. Maybe you get through a whole month of eating in and you want to reward yourself with new workout gear (from all that money you saved!). Maybe you hit a goal weight on your bench press that you’ve been working towards for a while so you treat yourself to a massage. You can reward yourself with lots of different things. I would stay away from rewarding yourself with sweets, bad foods, skipping workouts, etc. You can splurge on things; that’s life. But beware of your mental outlook on food and pleasure. You can get into a nasty spiral when you start rewarding yourself with bad quality foods for each little thing that you accomplish. Eating healthy and clean is very refreshing for the body and really tastes great. A reward from a hard workout should be a meal that is full of flavor, quality, and clean for your body.
Keep these tips in mind and lay the foundation for your workout regimen. Set realistic goals, prepare to travel off course at times, and reward yourself for goals accomplished. Seeking the help of a personal trainer or nutritionist can be very beneficial. They are able to send you in the right direction and help guide you along the path.