Written by Susan Arruda
Lack of motivation is definitely in the top 3 reasons for not exercising, based on surveys and general feedback. Motivation is defined as the general desire or a person’s willingness to do something. Having motivation to train is what helps to keep us in great shape. If we could bottle this wonderful, intangible force that compels us to take action and increases our ability to push harder towards success and accomplishing our goals, we would all be far more effective overall!
This begs the question:
Why are some people more motivated than others to exercise and accomplish their fitness goals?
The simple answer comes down to “how important is it to you?” Is it on your priority, non-negotiable list of top 3 in your daily routine? If it is, it will more likely come easier for you. If not, you will have to work a lot harder to accomplish your goal to exercise, get fit, and stay fit. Like most things, some tasks come easier for some compared to others based on personal strengths and weaknesses. Areas of weakness simply require more effort.
Fact: Determination will get you a lot further than talent alone!
When it comes to motivation, there isn’t one thing that will work for everyone - No one size fits all, so to speak. One thing is for sure: Lack of fitness motivation hits everyone, even those who appear to be on it and sticking with it! Yes, of course, I also struggle with it, and so does Marco!
Determine and list your motivators. WHY do you want to exercise? Is it for…
- Personal benefits and gains
- Desire – to look and feel better
- Fear - of the consequences – gaining weight, losing your health, etc.
- Disgust – Yes, you read that right. – Feeling so disgusted with oneself and how you look and/or feel, can serve as a high motivator to take action and make changes.
- Social acceptance
- Personal achievement and self-satisfaction
Question to ask yourself:
How bad do you want it? If you’re willing to do what you have to do to reach your goals despite the circumstances and you won’t allow excuses to take precedence over your exercise, you will succeed!
Realize that ‘BUTS’ are excuses. You can’t allow your feelings to vote or let’s face it, few things would get done, especially exercise! (read my article, When You Don’t Feel Like Training) I certainly have experience, speaking as a mom who has raised two kids (14 months apart), works full time and has been at this for 35 years!
It is helpful for you to write out and list clear and specific goals with deadlines and outline the reasons why you want to exercise. What is your biggest motivator?
My personal top reasons for exercising:
- Aesthetics; plain and simple! I want to look good, which in turn helps me to feel good in my own skin!
- Exercising improves my mood and helps me manage my emotions. My overall well-being is improved, thanks to the release of endorphins. It really does help combat depression!
- I want to be healthy and energetic!
- I want to maintain consistency in my body composition and bodyweight.
One statistic that specifically motivates me to weight train and may also do the same for you is:
Muscle and bodily functions start to decline at a rate of 2% per year after the age of 30! You can counter that and slow it to a rate of .5% with resistance training and a well-rounded exercise program. (According to research from the American College of Sports Medicine)
If you tend to struggle in this area of exercise motivation, take heart! I’m going to provide you with some tips to help you stick with it and resist the urge to blow off your training, so keep on reading.
DO’S AND DON’TS
Keep a picture of what you want to look like before you! Whether it is a picture of a former you, or a role model body that you want to aspire to look like; post it up on a corner of your bathroom mirror and on your fridge (to deter you from eating that junk or stop you from eating when you know you shouldn’t be). Have it somewhere in view to remind you throughout your day of your goals and this will serve to help you stay on track and think twice before caving in to that junk impulse/binge!
Keep your sights on the end result! Focus on the benefits one workout at a time. You always feel better after your workout! Staying on track helps keep the momentum of your progress going and improves mood and well-being!
Plan your exercise ahead of time – Failing to plan is the equivalent of planning to fail! Set a weekly training schedule. Treat it like a work meeting or doctor’s appointment; something you take seriously and won’t blow off.
Set short and long-term goals and be as specific as possible – Vague goals produce vague results. I will lose 2 lbs. in my first 4 weeks of my exercise program. I will lose 2 inches off my waist by _________. I will drink 3 bottles of water daily, etc.
Reward yourself – Get yourself a large calendar and post it where you will see it daily. Set weekly training goals and checkmark the days you follow through with your exercise plan and after a solid month (or even weekly) of consistency, treat yourself to a new fitness outfit, a massage, or whatever it is that will increase your joy factor and help you stick with it!
Make it doable – If you haven’t been able to stick with exercise because of time (one of the top reasons for not exercising), start with walking 20 minutes a day while listening to your favourite music, podcast, or talking on the phone (be it for business or pleasure). You can even do this during your work lunch hour if you simply set your mind to it. Buddy up with a friend if you need the support, or do it solo to clear your mind and energize you for the 2nd half of your day.
Make it fun! - If you really don’t like to do ‘formal’ exercise, then perhaps hit the weights only once or twice a week and do physical activity you enjoy more; stuff that doesn’t feel like it’s training to you, be it gardening, dancing, sports with friends, taking the kids to the playground, etc. This is unique to you.
Surround yourself with like-minded people as much as possible. - You need a support group for those times you find yourself weakening and losing motivation. Get around someone positive and this will help you to flip your mood.
Invest! - Hire a trainer to get you into the groove of things and help get you started!
Be accountable – I don’t suggest posting on social media necessarily, but having a friend to check in with can help you to stick with it. The world (social media) doesn’t need to know if you miss the mark.
Do take part in challenges, especially if you have lost your fire to keep at it! Perhaps you want set a goal/challenge to complete a half marathon or take part in a healthy eating challenge, or perform a 30 day resistance training exercise challenge with your online circle of friends. We all need a reason to do what we do and goals and challenges provide you with deadlines and purpose; both very important in helping you reach bigger goals. Hmmm, perhaps you may want to do what I did and set a goal to try a fitness competition and then, who knows what can happen! :-)
MOVE everyday and be CONSISTENT! - Moving everyday helps you to fall into a groove and be consistent at this, which is what will yield results! If you're doing 'formal' and structured exercise 3-4 times a week, you should plan some activity such as walking, that you can fit into your day. A frequently asked question is when is the best time to exercise. The best time is when it is most convenient and doable for you on a consistent basis. Consider the point below re. Don't plan it at the end of your day...
Don’t set lofty goals and change everything at once! – Start with small changes (one or two) and build on them after sticking with them for two weeks. This will help you to stick with it and avoid failure, discouragement and feeling overwhelmed.
Don’t dread it! – Easier said than done, I know. Especially if you’re feeling tired and blah! - All the more reason to do it and get it done! You will likely feel more energetic and a lot nicer/better than before you started it. Do it and gauge accordingly. Anything is better than nothing and never discount the power of a short power workout! The fact is, dread drains and robs you of joy and power. If you dislike the activity you’re doing that much, consider changing it. You may need to shake and/or scold yourself! Think of the person who is sick in the hospital or confined to a wheelchair for a quick attitude adjustment! Resist letting those dreadful thoughts and negative words come out of your mouth! Yes; fake it to make it!
Don’t blow it off! – Have a picture of what you want to look like (or don’t want to look like) and let that be your motivator! Remind yourself that you’ll feel better once it is done (this is something I do a lot!) and think of how awful you’ll feel if you don’t do it!
Don’t procrastinate!– The sooner you get it done, the better you’ll feel! Also; don’t let those 2 extra lbs. turn into 20. – Start something and stick with it!
Don't wait to get a bad Doctor's Report before taking action - invest now so you don't have to pay later…in many more ways than one.
DON’T PLAN IT AT THE END OF YOUR DAY! - Especially if exercise is not yet something you have made a lifestyle and you’re not too thrilled about it all! The probability of something coming up that will deter you from doing it is much higher. Your motivation is also higher in the morning although I know it doesn’t feel like it when you hear that early morning alarm, but this is fact! People who exercise in the morning tend to stick with it. There are fewer distractions and you will be more effective in following through, just resist pushing snooze and have that coffee ready to go! Stick with it for a month and you may find you actually enjoy it (in a weird kind of way). You may have heard it before. If you stick with something for 21 days, you will have developed a good habit for life. A habit is something you do without fail and on automatic pilot – kinda like brushing your teethJ
Fun Fact: People who have achieved big success are those who prioritize their exercise routine daily and actually do it before starting their workday.
RE-EVALUATE YOUR GOALS ON A MONTHLY BASIS – Decide what is working, what needs to change in order to keep making progress. You can catch those few extra pounds if you take quick action and make necessary adjustments.
Feeling bored or blah with your exercise? Try something new! - A group class, a belly dancing class, yoga, boxing, a water running class – Something that interests you. Try to do it with a friend, if possible, although not a must. Taking part in a new activity could help jolt you out of a rut and who knows; could be just what you need to get you out of a discouraging plateau!
Bottom line: You CANNOT ALLOW YOUR FEELINGS TO VOTE… Period! It all starts with a decision, and then following through. STOP WAITING TO FEEL LIKE IT AND JUST MAKE UP YOUR MIND TO DO IT! Quit procrastinating; START and stick with it!