Have you ever started a health or fitness journey and then quit? Many people start exercise regimes, but quite often lose motivation when they get bored, don't enjoy it or don't see their results come quick enough. Whatever your goals might be, whether it's to lose weight, increase strength or just improve general well-being and feel better about yourself, the important thing is to maintain momentum when you hit those low points along your exercise journey.
As a fitness beginner whether you've just encountered your first blip or you've completely fallen off the wagon, here are some tips and tricks to help you stay motivated.
There is usually a reason behind starting a health or fitness journey, so in order to take action you must have a motive to do so. Creating a goal is a simple way to enforce what action it is you want to take, are you trying to lose weight? Are you looking to increase your muscle mass? or even training for a marathon. The likelihood is that no goal is going to be achieved right away, in fact if it's a significant goal then it might be more longer term. When this is the case you can break that goal down into smaller bite size goals also known as small medium or long term goals. This generates momentum and increases motivation as you progress through each goal building towards that final longer term goal.
Using weight loss as an example, your long term goal maybe be "achieve 20kg weight loss". To enhance the quality of the goal incorporating the SMART goal technique tailors it goal more specifically to you. The weight loss SMART goal would be "reduce your bodyweight by 20kg within 10-12 months".
As mentioned in order to utilise goal setting you can break the goal down into smaller, easily manageable goals to help build as a beginner over time. Simply creating variations of the goal across different periods along the journey is a great start. "Losing 10kg of bodyweight within 5-6 months" could be a shorter goal. This gives you a crucial halfway point and allows you to see how far much you've achieved whilst still understanding you're still striving for that long term goal.
You can break the goal down further still. Creating a starting goal for example "lose 1kg in bodyweight" is a simple goal which can kickstart the process. If you're new to weight loss it can be a significant achievement because you've got the ball rolling. You can create as many goals as you think you'll need to work towards the desired outcome.
The key thing of goal setting is that you get a taste of success of reaching something which improves confidence and self-esteem. Setting the right goals gives the added boost you need thus maintaining motivation and desire throughout and this improves adherence to your exercise journey.
VARIED FUN WORKOUTS
It's human nature to need change, As with many other aspects of life incorporating change helps us improve by doing something different. Promoting change helps trigger progress by moving things forward and allowing for personal development.
In regards to your fitness journey breaking the routine of perhaps the same workout will help encourage changes within the body. Mixing up the workouts forces the body to make adaptations to deal with these changes to the workout. If you ever feel that a particular exercise has gotten easier over time this is because the body has adapted to the demands of the given exercise and become more efficient at completing it. Changing how you do that exercise challenges the body in a way it's not used to promoting more adaptations. The more you adapt and change the likelihood is the more results you will see.
Easy ways to mix up your workouts can include; different workout styles or formats, different types of exercise from resistance training to swimming or cycling, mixing up the exercise selection and changing what equipment you use and how you complete the selected exercises. Changing rest times, the speed of the exercise and the variation of exercise can all play an important roll in keeping things fresh for you.
Remember if you do the exact same thing for a long period of time, this can become dull and uninteresting and therefore can become quite demotivating to complete. This could stop your fitness journey in it's tracks and hinder results. It's important to do things you enjoy as there's nothing better for adherence than having fun whilst completing your fitness journey.
REACH OUT FOR SUPPORT
There is nothing worse as a beginner than to start your journey whilst not really being too sure on what to do. According to Nuffield Health, 55% of gym users admitted in a study that they were unsure on what they were doing. Further still 23% felt too embarrassed to ask for help.
There can be many different avenues you may look to for help and support along your fitness journey.
For certain individuals it can be more enjoyable if the experience is shared with someone else. Having an exercise buddy as a support system is a great motivator in order succeed during your fitness journey, especially on the days when you're really not feeling it. If you choose a partner to exercise with, look for someone who is sharing similar goals to you.
A training partner is a great way to start your fitness journey, for more tips try How To Start My Fitness Journey!
Social media is a wonderful tool. Within health and fitness you can find many community groups for a vast majority of different fitness goals. What this means is there are literally hundreds of people potentially sharing the same journey as you are. So why not join some of these groups and support each other and help stay motivated across your journey, maybe even make some new friends along the way. Those who have online support are seen to lose up to three times more weight compared to those who attempt to go at it alone.
You can get support in many different forms and it's important to find the best support route for you.
HAVE A BREAK AND REWARD YOURSELF
It is important to remember that you're a beginner. What does this mean? Well you are at the start of a new fitness journey. This can be someone who may never have done any form of regular exercise before, You might be someone who's done some exercise in the past but are starting a new chapter or you're returning to exercise after a long break and starting up again. The point here is that your body probably isn't going to be used to the continuous exercise sessions you plan to complete and you're likely not a professional athlete so it's important not to go too hard on yourself. Give your body time to rest.
You body improves and adapts most when it's at rest. Resting gives time for the body to repair, refuel and recover from previous exercise sessions. Research shows how optimal sleep allows for you to perform at optimum levels (Julio Calleja-González et al., 2015).
Although sleep is important factor for daily function in most tasks as it improves concentration and energy levels, it is not the only form of recovery. Taking a break could just be not completing the exercise session for that day. You could do other things in place of the exercise session for example a gentle walk which can aid with rest and recovery despite not physically resting. This is also known as active recovery.
As a beginner there is nothing worse than overdoing it and feeling worse as a result. It's common to see people entering their new fitness journey all guns blazing and end up burning out or aching so much they can't get out of bed. This over time could ultimately decrease motivation cause a negative impact on your desired results.
There are many other tips and tricks you can look out for if you're trying to stay motivated.
It's highly likely that you'll hit a stage where you feel particularly demotivated at some point along your journey, we all have them. However, when the situation arises, can you identify what might be causing this sudden lack of motivation? Did it all start from that time you skipped a workout? or you've had an extra stressful day at work?
If you notice these blips can you write down the potential triggers? Simply being aware of them can be a really useful tool to enable you to get back on track. You can even overcome that trigger if it occurs again further down the line.
Holding yourself accountable is a great way to keep yourself motivated. Taking ownership over your fitness journey is important. If you find yourself demotivated it's a hard thing to be accountable for, instead people look for excuses and pass the blame. Ultimately its your goals and your body you wish to improve.
Can you write down your routine? If you realise perhaps you're quite stuck for time to include exercise, which is natural as many people lead busy lives. If this is the case you could wake up earlier to allow for more time to eat healthier or fit in that exercise session you previously couldn't. Waking up and incorporating a healthy routine is a great motivator. Rushing and being late trying to incorporate your new fitness journey is stressful, which can be a demotivating.
CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
As mentioned before it can be easier to give excuses to why you can't do something. You look at the time and think "it's too late to workout now" or "I don't have time to cook a healthy meal now". Can we change your perspective? Perhaps instead of talking yourself out of doing the workout you can think "I'll feel so much better about myself after this workout". Over coming your mindset is half the battle to better results.
One of the most important factors to better results is consistency. You're far more likely to see improvements from continuously doing something as opposed to sporadically doing odd things here and there. With this in mind can you look to schedule your exercise at the same time? Instead of making your workout a choice can you make it a lifestyle habit that becomes second nature? Writing it down into your diary or calendar sounds a bit much but you know it's in your routine, once it's part of your routine you'll be highly more likely to adhere to your new fitness journey and stay motivated.
Staying motivated is no easy task, you're going to have testing times when you feel particularly demotivated along your fitness journey. Hopefully you can take some of the points mentioned in this post to help maintain your motivation where you can. If you can establish what works well for you, you can increase how much you adhere to your exercise routine and start seeing better results.
If you're unsure if you should start your fitness journey, try reading 10 Reasons Why Exercise Is Good For Your Health to better understand how exercise can help you.