Stay Motivated

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?

What it really comes down to is: change is hard. It is very hard. The truth is, changing is harder than staying the same, regardless of how I might beat myself up for failing to change. It is easier to continue smoking, eating poorly, or being sedentary even when I know these things are bad for me. Our food choices are based on their ability to fuel our bodies, release “feel good” hormones, and satisfy us, and we seek out activities that provide us pleasure. Pleasure is a personal choice which may not have anything to do with what is best for us.

If you are going to make a change in your life. You have to be ready for discomfort. At least for a short while. In the beginning it will seem easier to go with your old routine rather than try a different activity. It will also feel better (comfortable) to stick to the old. Starting something new usually requires a little risk, a little uncertainty, and a little discomfort. The key is to be ready for this discomfort and accept it. Deal with it and use it to your advantage.

Once you have convinced yourself you are ready for change you must determine who you are changing for. The obvious answer may not be the real answer. Deeply look at your motivation, are you the reason for the change, or is a parent, spouse, doctor, sibling, friend, etc. Is it someone else’s idea or voice you hear? If it is not you; commitment is likely to wane. Next determine why you want to change. As with the question of who, why is a critical factor in realizing a goal. Determine your why. Get passionate about it. Taste it, feel it, begin to live it. Immersion into an idea is supported by research and will lead to change. In other words, find as many ways to support your new lifestyle, new activities, new thoughts, rewards, support, new ideas about how you could change your habits to support your new direction. The more pathways you create in your brain to support this change the more likely you are to succeed. As Mary Kay Ash was famous for saying, “What the mind can believe, it can conceive.” Believe with every cell in your body and it will manifest.

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!

Find Support to Reach Your Fitness Dreams

Have you ever had this experience:  You are on top of the world, flying high on your excitement and new found dreams, only to have someone close to you squash it? It may be a look or comment.  Maybe its a person whose opinion is held so dear to your heart that it devastated you to get that look or comment, and squashed your spirit.

Well, get it back.  When trying to form a new lifestyle it is important to go after your dreams.  Some dreams may be weird, or hard, or nearly impossible, and those that know you best, know it will be a rough, if not, wild ride before you are done, but do it anyway, and for god’s sake quit listening to them! I am not suggesting you quit your day job, move to a faraway land, and forgo all responsibility in lue of leading a life full of your true calling, but if you’ve done your homework, making a change is going to be hard and those you may expect to support you the most may be the ones to avoid.

For many watching a loved one approach a goal we have seen them attempt and fail at multiple times – translation: we are picking up the pieces of their ruined self-confidence – can be rough and exhausting. Even when we try to be supportive it may not be genuine because we feel we know what the end result will be. For some it is painful to watch a loved one reach toward a goal we ourselves hold close and continually fail at, especially if our loved one is making it where we fell flat. Are these fair assessments? Maybe, maybe not, but is it our choice to make? NO.

If you are dealing with a friend or family member who is working hard toward a goal and failing, or if you are the friend who continually tries, but are having trouble getting it off the ground over and over, take note. Failing is reaching for success. You cannot succeed without failing somewhere along the line. If you are not failing once and a while you are stuck in a rut. I grew-up water skiing, as I got older I did not want to fall; I felt it was how I would be measured as a person. Well, luckily I figured it out – if I didn’t fall I wasn’t pushing the envelope, and if I wasn’t pushing my skills I wouldn’t get better. Basically, I got bored. I learned the harder and more crazy I wiped out the better my skills got, the more bumps I could take, and the less the small stuff mattered. Life is like that. The more you live, the more the small things won’t derail you from the goal.

Let’s put this into a fitness perspective. For example: I am looking to lose a few pounds. I have been for ten years. I continually have joined gyms, tried walking on my own, and new diets, but I never could keep them up. Finally, exhausted I gave up for a term and am now ready to begin again, sound familiar? If you look back through your history of trying, do you find that you got further each time. Progress is not always measured in pounds, weeks or calories, but look at whether the same issues derailed your efforts. Maybe in the beginning if I didn’t strictly follow my diet I was done for the week or day, which over the long haul derailed my entire goal. Or if I skipped a workout, I was so guilty I would overeat at lunch and dinner before snacking from the vending machine and a pint of ice cream. Next time I attempted my weight loss I didn’t let a missed workout or off meal ruin my confidence, but I let my schedule take me down. The third time, I figured out my schedule, but I let my fear of gyms dictate which direction I would go and I got bored and then it snowed. See how this works? Each time I got better at dealing with issues, but a new one popped up; until I finally put my fitness first no matter what, because I finally understand how important it was to me…no matter what.

By repeating an activity even if it seems we are not reaching our goals, we are creating pathways in the brain that reinforce our goal. These pathways become stronger the more they are used and soon it does not seem hard to use them at all. It seems normal. Each time we attempt to break an old habit and make it longer than we did before; we build a stronger connection to the new habit and break down the pathway to the old, which leads to leaving the old habit behind.

Today look back and take stock of the failures you’ve had. Can you see a pattern? Can you see progress (remember to look at the big picture)? Can you see where you may need work? If these questions seem daunting, hire a professional to help you sort through your ideas. Once you’ve got your track record you can limit your obstacles based on past experience, draw new confidence based on what you have been able to overcome, and begin again armed and ready when your best buddy rolls their eyes and exclaims, “Not again!”

10 Rules of Motivational Rewards

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!

  1. 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.
  2. Don’t use food, candy, or other treat. This reinforces the specialness of the unhealthy food or eating behavior.
  3. 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.
  4. Pamper yourself – you’ve earned it!
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

How to Get Motivated to Exercise

So many of us have great intentions to exercise but don’t do it! We are going to be exploring how to get motivated to exercise! Now that we are past the 4th and the indulgences of the holiday let’s get down to business. Exercising in the lazy days of summer is hard! Many of us want to exercise but we want to lounge in the water or sun more. So the question becomes how to get motivated to exercise.

1st – Revisit your fitness goals – Why do you want to exercise in the first place? What do you want to be different about your life?

2nd – Look at your current schedule – Schedules change with the seasons but many fail to realize that of their own. What has changed on your to-do list, time demands, and attention needs. Adjust your workouts around these new demands. It is also a good idea to begin planning for fall when your schedule is likely to change again. Don’t spend too much time on fall – just begin to consider how you might need to re-adjust.

3rd – Adjust any exercises needed – do you love to run outside but the heat prevents a good workout? Or are you a pool swimmer but can’t seem to bring yourself to stay inside on a wonderful sunny day? Find alternatives – you can come back to your favorites when the season changes.
Check on your diet – Summer is a classic time to indulge. Where can you focus your healthy eating behaviors and work on your unhealthy ones? This is not a time to beat yourself up – instead practice the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time aim for good eating behaviors.

Motivation is a combination of things and changes depending on your needs. Be considerate to yourself as you re-evaluate and re-motivate your exercise. Fitness progress is not measured in one-time shots – it is measured over time – the battle is consistency. Take comfort knowing as long as you are still exercising (even if it looks different than 6-months ago) you are still moving toward your goals.