Motivation is the force that drives us to do what we do every single day of our life.
This can be explained as simply as hunger being the motivation to making a sandwich or being unhappy with the work environment prompting an editing session with your resume.
Some people find the motivation to exercise incredibly challenging. Why is that? Exercise is something that is not required for survival (i.e., food), it is not always easy (climbing forty flights of stairs at top speed), it can often lead to discomfort (kick butt kettle bell workout – butt is kicked the next three days while it recuperates!), and sometimes requires going out of your way to achieve it (the gym that isn’t exactly between work and home but most days that little detail can be overlooked.).
So how do you motivate yourself to move? Listen up!
Find the “I” in team.
Yes, technically there isn’t one there, but you can find some friendly encouragement in many places. Invite several friends along to try out a new class you’ve wanted (“Ballates at 6pm – free trial class, who is in? Message for details!”), take a run (“I need a push to run 5 miles today, anyone free to come along for the run or part of it?”), or even just to chat about exercise ideas. You’d be surprised how many people have similar concerns and are in the exact motivational slump you may be. Ask around!
Daily deals are incredibly cheap ways to try a whole assortment of activities out:
Extremely discounted gym rates, personal training, group exercise, yoga, Crossfit, Adventure outdoors, local race sign-ups, and healthy eating seminars are just a few that you may come across this time of the year. There are a few reasons why these are quite the gem. One: They are reasonably priced – most people have a few bucks they can throw towards one of these versus when looking at the full priced option ($60 a month for a gym membership, sheesh! $20 for a month of using the facilities and not having any commitment worries? Fabulous!). Two: They are open invitations to try something you have never tried. Three: The ability to try many activities like spinning, Bikram yoga, repelling, oh my! Four: Many of these venues are going to offer a nice discount to continue using their services after the trial.
Spice it up!
Does your daily cardio routine cause a frenzy of yawns by the ten minute mark? Boredom is one of the leading causes for the motivation to diminish. Start from scratch with a new workout. Been doing the same thing for two years? There is a very good reason why you don’t want to push yourself again. Not only is it old hat, your body is likely not seeing the same results as it first did since it’s become adapted to the routine.
Changing things could be as simple as finding a few new exercises, adding intervals, or trying the current strength exercises with a different device (instead of dumbbells, kettle bells, using the TRX, adding a stability ball). Another tip would be to try super-setting all of your current exercises. This will enable you to cut time off of gym time, increase your heart rate to a higher zone and for longer, burn more calories, and work more intensely (less time exercising means spreading your energy over less time. Push it!). There are always new things to try and ways to manipulate what you are doing. The body is an amazing thing, and if it doubt ask for help.
You deserve an award.
The gold star you received at the top of the spelling test in second grade taught you an important lesson – receiving something when you do well makes you feel even better for all of the hard work put into the accomplishment!
Set a goal for yourself (remember to make it SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely; an example would be training to run a 10k in May by running three times a week on a set time schedule) and find something that is a worthy reward.
Working out hard? A new trendy outfit (perhaps in a new size….) would be a great thing to promise yourself. Ten incredibly intense personal training sessions in a month? A massage must sound lovely right now! Find something within your budget that you desire by would be hesitant to obtain for no reason. Then be sure to make yourself work for it!
Motivation naturally comes and goes, as does all things in life. When you feel you’ve hit a slump, don’t be afraid to look for help. You may find it in the unlikeliest of place. The rewards will be well worth the while!
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Beth Henke is a personal trainer and group exercise instructor who believes that all things in life should be savored in moderation. That being said, when it comes to fitness, find something you can be passionate about and you will never just be working out - but enjoying another page in your life. Take care of yourself as you would others, never say never, and push-ups really are good medicine.