Consistent and productive exercise is nothing less than – hard work. It’s all about commitment, adhering to a schedule, planning daily exercises and diets, executing all of it and finally coming to grip with the fact that changes to your body are normally slow and subtle. Sweating it out on the treadmill or lifting weights in a gym is fine for the first few days of an exercise program, but after that one needs motivation to stay motivated with the same old boring routine?
Follow these simple steps to stay motivated towards your exercise program.
- Find the right reasons to exercise: In order to be successful at any endeavor, we must have a good reason for doing it in the first place. Exercise is no exception. What will get you up in the morning on those cold, dark days when you just want to stay in bed? Many people say “because I want to lose weight” or “I want to be fit”. While these are good goals, they are not good enough reasons for long term success. You must dig deeper. What is important to you? What do you value in life? Answer these questions, then see how a regular exercise program can support your values.
- Make a Commitment: Once you find your “reasons”, it’s time to make a commitment. A commitment is the ability to carry out a worthy decision, even when the excitement of making that decision has passed. How many times have you been excited to start an exercise program, only to become bored or distracted by other things? As soon as the excitement passes, so do your exercise plans. Be sure you are ready to commit, and if you are not, then commit to not exercising. That way you can let go of the guilt and commit when you are ready.
- Set Measurable and Realistic Goals: If your only goal is to lose 40 pounds it will be a while before you feel successful. After all, it can take a while to see such results. Rather, set daily measurable, achievable goals that allow you to feel successful every day. Keep a weekly diary and set goals each day for what kind of exercise you will do, how long you will workout, how hard you will exercise, etc.
- Track Your Progress: Set your goals and write them down, also chart your progress. Be sure to write down your daily achievements to compare to your goals. This will become extremely motivating as you see yourself meeting your goals. With consistent exercise, you will also see your workouts becoming easier and your ability to work harder and longer. This often happens faster than visible results on your body, such as weight loss or definition. Many people become frustrated and quit exercise right before big changes are about to happen, because they don’t see the results on their bodies. Seeing measurable progress on paper will keep you motivated while you work towards the bigger goals you have set for yourself.
- Use effective tools for proper feedback: Using a heart rate monitor can tell you if you are working too hard or not hard enough. An accelerometer can tell you all day long how many calories you are burning and keep you motivated to move! When you look for ways to add activity to your day it becomes a fun game and you can instantly see the results.
- Don’t ever give up: Allow for flexibility in your exercise plans and know one missed day is not a setback.
- Be Accountable!: About 95% of all participants in an exercise program will stop exercising. Why? No support. Research has shown that exercisers with some kind of support system have a better chance of continuing exercise. You need someone who will also hold you accountable for your exercise. Working with someone like a personal trainer, a coach or a mentor will give you the support you need and you can work together to identify barriers to keeping your commitment and develop strategies to overcome these obstacles. Most people need far more support, follow up and accountability than they think to start and maintain an exercise program.
Results from exercise, building motivation and consistency will take time to show up. Fitness is not just about reaching a destination, it is a journey where you will learn much about yourself and grow from your experiences. Keep your short term goals in mind, and enjoy the journey to reaching your ultimate goals.