The #1 question I get asked is how I stay motivated. There's no denying that I got lucky with intrinsic motivation for working out, but there's way more to health & fitness than just that. There are many aspects of living a healthy lifestyle which I find difficult. These are the tricks and tips I use to overcome them and stay focused.
In my experience there are 3 levels of motivation:
1. The overall reason you want to be healthy
2. How to stay motivated to work to that goal daily
3. How to stay motivated in the moment when the going gets tough
1. Your Reason.
Figure out WHY you want to make a change and write it down.
- I want to feel good
- I want to be able to play with my kids
- I want to be able to do things when I'm 60 (my parents are older than 60 and always valued exercise. Guess what, they get to ride bikes across countries in Europe and eat ice cream without worry)
- I want to be a better soccer player
Get specific and personalize it to you. My why is simple:
I want to know what I'm capable of. I want to live with no regrets and know I experienced everything I possibly could have.
2. How to stay motivated to put in the work every day.
Motivation is essentially accountability. I’m no more motivated than the average person, I’ve just figured out how to hold myself accountable.
Left to my own devices I will let myself down when it comes to too many glasses of wine or neglecting proper rest. These are just as essential to health & fitness as the exercise itself.
Strategy - Find outer accountability.
I find some sort of outside accountability that means A LOT to me.
I use races because they work perfectly for my personality. I love to win, I hate knowing I could have done better, and I will do everything in my power to be the fittest possible on that day. I want to experience that race the best way possible (see how it ties into my why) so when I'm faced with a choice to eat a cookie or go to bed, I'll just go to bed.
Hate the idea of a race? What about money. During off season I have a deal with my fiancé that every time I have more than 2 drinks I pay a charity $100, and HE has to pay a charity $50 because he was probably there and didn’t say sh*t when I poured my 3rd glass.
I also have a coach. When I need to cut weight for an event, I know exactly what to do, BUT when I’m faced with the choice of having a latte instead of black coffee I can really easily think “well it’s just one”, and those choices add up. When I have to send my coach photos, measurements, and a food log every week, black coffee is a no brainer.
Action Step: Find out what will hold you accountable.
Gretchen Reuben’s The 4 Tendencies is a great resource. These 4 tendencies explain how you generally react to expectation, and from that you learn what naturally holds you accountable. Check out the link below this article to take the quiz for some personal insight.
Strategy - Self Talk & Imagery.
Sounds complicated but it's not. Whenever I'm faced with a choice (hit snooze or go to the gym) I say to myself, "choose the thing you want to become a habit".
I imagine my future self. I can literally be standing on the edge of a board trying to will myself into a back flip and think it's too hard. Then I think about myself an hour later, how happy I'll be if I jump, and how disappointed I'll be if I wimp out. It works, just try it.
3. How to stay motivated DURING a workout when you just want to stop.. I'm going to save this for the next edition. Mostly because this is already a novel.