How do you stay motivated? How do you keep going when you’re tired, fed up, feeling lazy, uninspired, ready to end it? I want to change my lifestyle, where do I begin? How do you get yourself back on track?
Questions I get asked all the time. Because people assume I wake up every single day raring to pump some iron, sweat it out in spin, or do single-leg burpees with a 180 rotational twist supersetted with weighted squat jumps. Hell.to.the.f*ck.no. Here’s my 8 top tips on how to stay motivated when you’d just rather not.
1. Set realistic goals
Your goals should push you but they should also be achievable. Honey, if you haven't moved since 1998 don’t sign up for a half marathon just yet. Get real. Don’t set yourself up for failure, or even worse, for injury. Don’t quit your cigs, coffee, carbs, and commit to 6 sessions a week all on the same day. Set a short-term goal (What can I achieve in 4 weeks?) but more importantly, set yourself a long-term goal (Where will I be in a year?) and get excited.
2. Make it enjoyable
Let’s get one thing straight, if you’re new to exercise, your first spin class isn't going to be a walk in the park. Your first body pump class might leave you thinking you've caused yourself serous injury. Don’t get me wrong, you might not fall head over heads in love with fitness on day 1 but there are steps you can take to ensure the process isn’t so painfully dull and arduous.
Mix it up. Don’t do the same thing every single day. Do weights. Do some cardio. Get outdoors. Go for a walk. Make fitness part of your day (not just an assigned hour) turn your commute into a workout. Your mind and muscles will thank you for it.
Bully your partner/friend/husband to come with you. Hit on a hot guy at the gym. Do what you’ve got to do to make the experience a little more enjoyable.
3. Treat yourself
Treat yourself. That's right. Maybe not always with a double cheeseburger & oreo milkshake but it’s OK to reward yourself. You are allowed to enjoy your food. A tasty breakfast. A hearty post-workout dinner. New clothes. A trip.
Over time you’ll start to associate your workout with these positive post-workout "reward" vibes to the point where the workout eventually becomes it’s own reward. Vom, I know right? But it happens. And in layman's terms, we call these happy vibes "endorphins".
4. Get prepared
If you’re planning on hitting the gym at the crack of dawn, get your gear ready the night before. Trust me, when that alarm clock goes off at 5.30am there’s going to be 1000 excuses to stay in bed. Not being able to find your left sock doesn’t need to be added to the list. Similarly, if your planning on working out after work take your gym kit with you and go straight there. GO to the gym. Go directly to the gym. Do not pass home. Do not collect 5 mini brownies on the way. Because let’s face it, once your butt hits that couch there’s no return. You’re gone forever. You're now part of the furniture for the rest of eternity.
Get your meals ready. Have breakfast prepared. Take your lunch to work. Know what you’re having for dinner. It takes time, effort and probably half of your Sunday afternoon, but it works. Inhibitions are lowest when you’re tired and hungry. Know your self and make a plan.
5. Hire a trainer
Most Personal Trainers will have a strict 24 hour cancellation policy and once you’ve paid upfront for sessions you’ll be less tempted to cheat on your PT session with a bottle of red. And if you do, well you’re an idiot who doesn’t deserve to have disposable income.
6. Change your perspective
Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Stop thinking it’s just you.
Instead of looking at exercise as a chore, instead of looking down at your sad salad, remind yourself that this is your choice. You are the one in control and you choose to pursue a happier you and P.S no one finds it easy.
7. Remember you're human
If you do have a "slip up" you need to get over it. If you miss a workout, if you miss 6 months of working out, if you eat a doughnut, if you eat 12 doughnuts, 3 loaves of bread and a kilo of cheese you need to MOVE on.
When we have a bad day, we have this awful tendency to assume that everyone else is smashing PB's in the gym and going home to a plate of grilled chicken and steamed broccoli. Trust me, they're not. I, most certainly am not.
Everyone has these days. Welcome to the club. There's 500 million of us.
8. F*ck motivation
This is where I will leave you. My number 1 top tip: F*ck motivation. The answer to all your problems. The key to making a change. The answer to becoming a stronger, healthier & happier you. F*ck motivation.
Contrary to popular belief, and contrary to what Women's Fitness might tell you, you don't have to leap out of bed raring to go for that 10k run. Sometimes you've just got to do it anyway.
The truth is, you're not always going to be motivated, and that’s why you need to learn to be disciplined. If you're always looking for motivation, you might as well accept defeat now because it's not going to happen. If you're at the beginning of your fitness journey, this is even more pertinent to you. You cannot rely on motivation. You need to f*ck motivation and create habits instead. Motivation comes and goes. Habits are consistent. If you focus everything on ALWAYS feeling "motivated" you will miss out. You'll never give your body a chance to respond to the effects. One day it won't be a question of "Shall I workout today?" because you'll just do it anyway. Why? Because once you start feeling good you will always want to feel that way, and whether or not you feel "motivated" at that point in time becomes irrelevant because you will see the bigger picture.
Motivation requires little effort. Motivation doesn't require much discipline. Being "motivated" makes everything easy.
If you're serious about making a change then get serious: Accept it's not always going to be easy. The question isn't "How to stay motivated," the question is how to continue without it.
Stay strong, stay sassy, and remember why you started. Ban x