If you’re like the majority of us, finding the motivation to start a workout is the hardest part.
I’m not sure if it’s our natural resistance to change or our fear of slight discomfort, but we must start if we are to reach our goal.
And if at first you don’t succeed: try, try again.
It’s the parental mantra – live it, do it, keep your chin up, and your eyes on the goal.
Write Your Goals Down
To get started, write down your goal somewhere where you can see it often. It can be on the refrigerator, in a closet or locker, or even on a on a small note pad (ex: food log). This is a very effective method to stay focused and motivated, and motivation is the key to our success. Athletes often write their goals on the inside of their lockers as a constant reminder to keep pushing themselves to meet their goal.
Sometimes our goals seem so abstract that we lose sight of where we are, in terms of attaining them. We need milestones and recurring assessments to stay focused. I’ve found the most motivating tool for me is to enter a running race. When I send away my $15 for a race, I feel committed. It can be a 1-mile fun run / walk, a 5k, or even a marathon. By entering a fitness event, like a race, you’re further demonstrating your commitment to reach your goal. Races are also wonderful social events where you can meet members of the community with goals similar to yours. It may also lead to a walking / running partner relationship, which are invaluable! If the race is your long-term goal, schedule a few ‘treats’ in the schedule. I usually pick something out like a running shirt, new shoes, going out to dinner, or another reward for meeting milestones.
It’s a natural tendency for us to want to streamline the processes and reach our goals as soon as we can. This can be overall detrimental to your fitness plan. Our bodies are wonderful biomechanical devices, fully equipped to adapt to our activity level and environment. But our bodies need rest after hard work. It’s in this rest that muscle rebuilds and energy stores are filled up again. When you plan your fitness program, schedule rest days. You may start with a 2-3 times a week workout plan, and increase this a few months later to a 3-4 workout per-week plan. Athletes that train every day often find themselves injured and taking months off. The body will get its rest one way or another.
Patience & Persistence
View your fitness program as a series of gradual steps. Steps will lead you to the top more effectively than climbing the face of a cliff. The reason that most exercise / fitness programs are short-lived is that we aggressively pursue our goal to the point where we exhaust ourselves in week 1 and lose the self motivation to continue. Give yourself time to reach your goal. If you’re exhausted, take an additional rest day. It’s better to lose a day here and there, than to stop the good habits that you’ve started. Your committed to the cause, take your time in getting there. Your fitness program should help enhance life’s enjoyment (although I have admit that there’s nothing I enjoy more than the end of a workout ;-).