So the other day my alarm went off for a 6AM workout.
My initial reaction?
“Why in the hell did I think this was a good idea?”
I had a work meeting at 8AM, and was back to back with appointments all day, so I knew that 6 was the only time I’d be able to get my training done.
I also knew, deep down, that once I finished my session, I’d feel so much better- my day would undoubtedly be more productive and energy-filled because I dragged myself to the gym before I started work.
But damn, try telling me that whilst I was covering my head with a pillow to drown out that damn alarm sound.
I did get up. In part because my alarm clock is across the room from my bed (for the very reason that it forces me to get out from under my warm duvet, even if my first intention is to go and turn the damn thing off).
Once I’m up though, and free from the clutches of my addictively comfy bed, I’m usually good to start my day.
But the fact remains, in that moment, hearing that horrible ‘beep-beep-beep’ of my iPhone telling me to wake up; I was not excited in the least bit to get up and train.
And if you’re anything like me, you’ll have felt that way at time too.
Whether it’s the early morning session, or trying to find the energy to drag ourselves to the gym after a hard day at work, getting motivated every time you’ve got to get active is hard.
And that doesn’t just apply to training- you think you’re the only one that has a real morale dilemma whilst picking between a burger and a salad?
I may be a fitness professional, but we all struggle with the same urges that aren’t going to aid our health and fat loss attempts.
Understanding and following these five tips have, however, ensured that 95% of the time, I make the choice that’s better for my health. And the other 5%? Hey, we’re all human, we have to enjoy a burger or a lie in sometimes!
How to Stay Motivated Number 1
Make Your Goal your Own
Surface level goals such as ‘weight-loss’ never stick.
Specific goals such as ‘Fitting back into my size 10 dress’ do.
Extrinsically motivated goals, like “I want to fit into my size 10 dress so my partner will find me attractive”, don’t.
Intrinsically motivated goals such as “I want to fit into my size 10 dress because I’ll feel confident, empowered and sexy in my own skin”, do.
Change that ‘I want to’ to a ‘I will’, and you’re already head and shoulders ahead of 90% of the goals are targets most people set for themselves.
I know, I’ve fallen victim to setting a target that wasn’t for me, rather it was to please someone else.
And staying motivated for that goal? That was never going to get me out of my bed at 6AM.
Once I set a goal that motivated me, and was for my own benefit? That’s when I began to find the motivation to push myself, even when I felt less than enthusiastic.
How to Stay Motivated Number 2
Create Goal Habits
Having a target that resonates with you is awesome- and from personal experience will get far greater results then training for someone else.
But a goal without establishing the habits to reach it is redundant.
For example, if our goal was the aforementioned ‘Size 10 dress to feel confident’, what actions are we going to have to take in order to make that a reality?
If we only have a goal with no plan? If our intentions are just to ‘get to the gym when we have time’ and ‘eat a little healthier’? We’re setting ourselves up for failure.
If we set habits, we need to hit in order to reach our goals however?
Such as going to the gym 3 times a week at lunchtime, making an extra dinner so we always have healthy food for tomorrow’s lunch, or carrying a litre water bottle everywhere and finishing it at least 3 times a day?
Establishing those habits solidifies the behaviours we need in order to hit our goal- which is far more motivational than a vague ‘I want to get to here, but I have no roadmap’ plan.
How to Stay Motivated Number 3
Set ‘Small’ Landmarks
Celebrating the ‘little victories’ is a vital component of staying motivated over the long term.
Let’s go back to our Size 10 dress example.
If we were starting at a size 16, and didn’t acknowledge our progress until we hit size 10, do you think we’d remain motivated the entire time?
I know I wouldn’t.
Acknowledging the smaller landmarks on the way to a big victory are paramount to remaining committed to your goal.
This could be as simple as rewarding yourself with a ‘cheat meal’, a trip to the cinema, some new shoes, or a PlayStation game.
Or it could be as simple as looking in the mirror at smiling at yourself, recognising the effort you’re putting in is getting you somewhere.
You could celebrate the new dress size, hitting your water intake all week or hitting a new personal best on an exercise- but whatever it is, taking the time to ‘smell the roses’ is going to keep you on the path far more effectively then ignoring all progress until you hit your end goal.
How to Stay Motivated Number 4
Take Progress Photos
Oftentimes it’s friends and family that notice the difference in your appearance first- especially if they’ve not seen you for a while.
For us though? It usually takes a little longer for us to notice our bodies have changed even a little.
This is because we (I would assume) see ourselves every day; and tiny differences on a daily basis are very tricky to spot.
If, however, we take progress photos, and put them side by side every month?
That’s when you’ll be able to recognise the pay-off for all your hard work.
So if you’re feeling a little down, or like you’ve not progressed for a while? Bust out the photo you took right at the start of your transformation, and you’ll soon find the motivation to keep going.
How to Stay Motivated Number 5
Become Accountable to Someone Else
Now you might be looking back at point number one and thinking “Wait, I thought my goals had to be all about me?”, and you’re completely correct.
Becoming accountable to someone doesn’t mean your goals then have to reflect theirs- it means you have someone that can kick you in the butt to keep you going if (and it will) your motivation wains.
This could mean something as simple as arranging to meet your friend at the gym three times a week, or joining a training group.
Hell if you really wanted to keep the motivation up and get the best results possible, it could mean hiring a coach.
But whichever method you choose, having another person waiting for you at the gym makes you far less likely to flake out and end up on the sofa at home instead.
And there’s the added benefit that if you’re training together, you’ll have someone to relate to, and discuss how hard or horrible training can be at times- but you’ll also have someone you can discuss how awesome it is going through this journey together with.
They’ll be days where you don’t want to train, and they kick your ass, and they’ll be days when it’s the other way around.
I even used to have a friend that agreed whenever I didn’t want to hit the gym I’d call her up and explain why, and it was her job to convince me otherwise- oftentimes just knowing I’d have to call her if I didn’t go convinced me to just go to training instead of going through the process.
Because in all honestly, despite what certain Instagram pages might suggest, no-one is motivated to go ‘Beast-mode’ 27/4.
We’re human, and because of that, our enthusiasm is going to come in peaks and troughs.
But if you can utilise the above motivation hacks, you can at least skew the ratio in favour of peaks; and battle through to train if you happen to be in a trough.