Staying motivated to exercise can be a challenge. Last week my kids started school and this week they all start soccer. Just thinking about the running makes me tired, and its only going to become more intense in the next few weeks. So I have to be ready to keep exercising or I’ll never reach my goals. Here are some ideas to keep you motivated, too.
Schedule your exercise just like you would any other appointment. This will help you begin to see your workouts as another part of your day instead of something extra you have to do.
Find a workout buddy – I don’t always get to workout with my two favorite workout friends but just chatting about it re-energizes me to keep going.
Write down your fitness goals. This can help create more concrete ideas surrounding what you want and what you are willing to do to get it. Once you’ve written it down cut out pictures that help you visualize your goals. Paste your goal sheets everywhere you’ll see them each day – the car, office, your closet, bathroom, on the fridge – you get the picture.
Commit to yourself. You are worth the time and effort. Delegate household chores where you can and drop to-do items that are not necessary. Sometimes we just do things because we always have or think we need to. It may be that it is an old need and is no longer serving you now. Take an honest look at your schedule and clean it up to create time for the things you really want in your life now.
As you begin to take more time for yourself it can be hard to chose what to do without feeling guilt or even shame and selfish. So here are some ideas to help you take time for you and drop the negative feelings that may have long standing places in your psyche. Remember when you feel good you will pass those feelings onto to those you love.
1) Wake up slowly – read, drink a cup of coffee or tea, enjoy the quiet of your home before any chaos of getting ready for a school or work day. It doesn’t have to be a long period just quiet.
2) Do Yoga – or simple stretches and tune into your body and how it feels in the moment
3) Exercise – even if its just taking the dog for a walk
4) Hike – or get out in nature and follow her rhythms. I like to kayak or float this time of year and let the water be the guide to my speed. I make a conscious choice to go only as fast as the river flows.
5) Take a bath or spend some time at your private “home spa” – pick some treatments you would like at the day spa and do them at home in the privacy (and quiet) of your own home.
Many of us begin our fitness path with an ideal. We have a vision of what we want to look like, achieve, and accomplish. Sometimes these goals which were so inspiring to begin with begin to weigh us down. Soon they become the albatross that doesn’t let us go and we no longer enjoy.
I was hiking last weekend with my family in the mountains of Colorado. We were taking a somewhat difficult climb for our three small children but figured they could make it to the high lake with plenty of breaks. At first all went as planned, but soon the “how much longer” and “I’m too tired to move” became a constant creating stress for all within hearing distance. Was it my 4-year-olds fault he was bored of this multi-hour walk (we have completed others just fie) or my 6-year-olds fault she preferred the flowers in front of her to the lake we couldn’t see yet? No!
Looking back the only problem was that we didn’t honor the beauty right in front of us because we were too focused on the goal. Along the trail there was much to be discovered and had we been less focused on the end result and more focused on the process we could’ve have seen it.
The lesson in it all was this: having a destination (goal) is good however you should also find the beauty along the road (the process of reaching your goal). As it was we never made it to the lake but were able to learn this lesson halfway in. On the return trip we spend much more time checking out flowers, waterfalls, rocks, mud-puddles, and views!
As I enjoy a much needed summer break I thought I would focus on wellness this week. Being healthy isn’t just about being physically fit. In fact, that is only part of the equation.
Being healthy has many layers. Wellness can be thought of as a wheel (think pie – sorry to be using food but it works!) encompassing such things as career, relationships, and culture (the slices). It is important to examine each area to understand where you may be losing energy and in need of better balance (one slice is huge and the others slivers)
Although, my background deals mainly with physical health I can’t ignore the impact the other areas of wellness have played in my personal training clients’ success or failures.
Do you feel out of balance in any areas of your life? Have you thought about how they might be effecting your efforts to be more physically healthy? For example: Do they impact your food choices, your exercise habits, or your motivation and confidence levels?
After noticing how these imbalances are effecting you can you see ways to change and stop patterns of behavior? Sometimes just noticing can be so powerful the choice to changes becomes easy. Other times it may be incredibly difficult to change even though it becomes obvious you are self-defeating the hard work you are doing (or have done) to live more healthy.
Take some time today to notice the impact other areas of your life may be having on your physical health. In our next posting we’ll look at ways to bring better balance to life.
Rewards can help keep you motivated to exercise. However there are 10 rules to think about when choosing how you will reward yourself for reaching your fitness goals – which we know you will!
Choose something you really want and won’t need until you reach your goal. Not a good idea to reward yourself with new running shoes when you reach X weight but you’ll need them to run the race regardless.
Don’t use food, candy, or other treat. This reinforces the specialness of the unhealthy food or eating behavior.
Pick something that will keep you exercising after you’ve reached your goal. A new workout outfit, shoes, a new piece of equipment, or a new class.
Pamper yourself –you’ve earned it!
Enlist your workout buddy in a dual reward –take a trip together, try a new class, etc. Make both of your success part of the reward but only if both of you are really motivated to get the reward
Choose a realistic reward and goal. An outfit or swimsuit size and style you wore 10 years ago may not be realistic anymore. Make sure your goal fits who you are now.
Set smaller goals and smaller rewards for milestones along the way. For example if you goal is to lose 50lbs which should take about 25 weeks or 6 months. This may be too far in the future to be motivating. However setting a weekly workout goal and weekly reward for making it can keep you moving forward. Add in a monthly goal, too.
Make sure to give yourself the reward. I am famous for this – I’ll say I’m going to get a new outfit from the money I’m saving by not drinking a cola a day however I forget to put the money aside each day/week and when the time comes for the reward I have no money in my outfit jar. Make sure to follow through with yourself!
Record your feelings in your journal. Many are motivated by intrinsic things (the way they feel inside) rather than extrinsic (things outside of themselves). If you find prizes don’t do it for you recording how well you felt after a workout, better sleeping patterns, or less stress may be just what you need to see your progress and claim your reward.
Don’t cheat and on the other hand don’t be too harsh on yourself.I know this sounds contradictory however the former will derail you again and again because by cheating you are telling yourself you aren’t serious about your goal and the latter derails you by creating inflexible parameters which don’t take into account all the positive changes you’ve made and circumstances that might be out of your control, like a life change or illness you didn’t see coming.
Motivation comes and goes. So how can you stay motivated to reach your fitness goals? It has more to do with looking inside yourself than outside yourself for rewards and recognition.
When people hear what I do for a living they tend to grab a part of their body – one they are not particularly fond of – and say, “what do I do about this?” which is then followed by, “ I know I should, but…”, which can then be followed by_________ (you fill in the blank) – excuses.
We know what to do, our bodies tell us they like to move. We watch it, read it, hear it, but we choose not to, why? We know we will feel better, we know we will look better, and we know we will build confidence, which will lead to many positives about ourselves, so why don’t we move?
Motivation is a tricky component to reaching a goal. It can be so strong one day and absent the next. This means you must constantly find ways to motive yourself. You must be creative here… no pressure right? It can be very simple. Decide that today I am going to walk for 20 minutes, and then look for ways to fit it into your day. Can you wake up a bit earlier, walk over lunch, after work, with your children or partner, is time critical today – do you need to break it down into increments? Look at the number of possibilities you have to reach the goal of walking 20 minutes. Enlist a friend or a supportive person to help make sure you reach your daily goal. (We will be discussing goal setting next week).
If you can step outside your comfort zone, make sure you are driving the change, and determine why you really want to change. Once you have done these two activities you have created a solid start to reaching your goal. Add passion and attention to your daily habits mixed with a lot of positive feedback and you’ll be on your way. Motivation will come and go, but you’ll be ready – you are now motivated to stay motivated!