OK, so money is a great motivator, but how can we get ourselves motivated to exercise? Most people who embark on a new fitness or weight loss programme will at some point lose their motivation to continue and eventually give up.
Motivation is what keeps us going and working towards the goals we set ourselves, but we need to keep the interest in what we are doing to achieve our aims, whether it is to lose a few pounds or to get fitter and stronger. Fitness and exercise is seen by most people as a chore and something that they feel like they should be doing but would rather not. However, there are a few ways we can keep ourselves motivated and interested in our fitness training and reach the targets we have set.
Goal setting is a great way to motivate you as reaching a goal gives a great feeling of accomplishment which in turn spurs you on to continue.
There is an important point to goal setting which most people overlook and then subsequently give up. We all goal set at some point. Whether it is, ‘I want to lose 2 stone in 6 months’ or, ‘I want to be able to increase my running distance from 2 miles to 10 this time next year’.
These are worthy goals but are doomed to fail as they are unrealistic, which is the most important part of goal setting. People lose their motivation because the goals they set themselves are unrealistic and are set too far in the future.
The key to goal setting is to set realistic targets that can be achieved in a short period of time. We have already said that achieving a goal is a great motivation tool and will spur you on; everyone likes to accomplish things and is a great feeling which leads people to continue as they are seeing the results.
So, using the above example of losing 2 stone in 6 months, we have already set our time to achieve our target 6 months away! That means no great feeling of accomplishment for 6 months! Instead, think about what can be achieved in a week. 2 stone in 6 months equates to about a pound a week in weight loss. So if we reset our goal to ‘I want to lose a pound in body weight this week’, we have now brought our target much, much closer. Losing one pound in 7 days is much more realistic and achievable but will still mean 2 stone in 6 months will be lost. The big difference now is that we will have achieved 26 small goals (each one week giving us that little bit of a spur on with the feeling of accomplishment) instead of one long slog with a target to far away.
To use the other example, instead of trying to jump from 2 miles to 10 miles in 12 months, try aiming to run just an extra 250 metres a week. Again this works in the same way as we have discussed above and still means an extra 8 miles on our running distance over 12 months. This way of taking small, achievable steps instead of one huge leap to reach our goals really does work and is a great motivational tool.
To mentally picture what you want to achieve can also be a useful method of motivation. All you need do is picture in your mind how it will feel when you reach your goal and then use this great feeling to remind yourself of why you are trying to achieve what you are aiming for. By constantly visualising in your mind that feeling of accomplishment, you will begin to move towards it and your goal will become easier to achieve.
Exercise little but often
A great way to put someone off exercise is to tell them that they need to go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week and train for over an hour or so. An hour of exercise is great but if your motivation to train for that length of time is lacking, then reduce your exercise time but exercise more often. It is far more appealing for someone to be told that they can exercise for just 15 minutes a day without slogging it out for over an hour.
15 minutes of exercise a day is more than enough time to get fit and with the right exercises, can be more beneficial than lengthy training sessions.
Use photos of yourself
This method can be done in a variety of ways but basically involves you using pictures of yourself to use as motivation. You may be someone who has put a lot of weight on, in which case, carry a photo of how you used to look when you were happy with your weight. When you think you cannot be bothered to train or exercise, look at the photo and remind yourself of why you are exercising or trying to lose weight. You may have once been overweight and am now slowly putting weight back on; In this case use a photo of when you were most unhappy with your weight and look at it to motivate yourself not to go back to feeling like that.
Make things interesting
Another simple way to keep interested in exercise is to vary what you do. If you just run every time you train, chances are you will become bored and stop. Instead try adding new things to your regime and vary what you do and when you do it. By choosing a different time of day to exercise you add even more variety to your routine. It is quite common to lose motivation to go to the gym or go for a run as the day passes, so try going in the morning, you then have the whole day to enjoy. Try a new exercise or sport.
You could swap a run for a swim or try circuit training which is more interesting than just a simple run.
Another tip is to get yourself a training partner. You can then motivate each other to exercise when one is not so keen, you will both progress together and a slight element of competition will only add to your motivation as you try to beat your partner.
Above all, enjoy!