5 Ways to Stay Motivated and Achieve Your Fitness Goals
Posted on January 12 2017
It takes 21 days to make a habit, and we're coming up on the third week of January. So how are you doing on keeping your New Year's resolutions? Are you well on your way to forming some good habits? I'll be the first to admit that once November and December rolled around, my usually-healthy diet and regular workout schedule fell by the wayside and I needed a good motivator like New Year's Day to get back on track. If you're struggling (like me) to make your healthy resolutions into healthy habits, here are five tricks I'm using to get back into the groove and maintain a sensible routine. They might just give you the boost you need to keep moving forward toward your health and fitness goals.
1. Wake up early and get it done
I know what you're thinking and I know how you feel. It is SO HARD for me to drag my sleepy A** out of bed when it's dark/cold/early/dreary/all of the above. Oh, the struggle. But guess what: it's the only way I make time to exercise. If I wake up and go about my regular daily activities, I always tell myself that I'll work out during my lunch break or at the end of the work day AND I NEVER DO! The first moments after that alarm rings are difficult but here's a strategy I've developed that works:
- I go to bed before 11:00 pm so when my alarm rings in the morning, I know I've had plenty of sleep and I can't use the "I'll sleep a little longer because I really need my 8 hours" excuse.
- I put my phone (or alarm clock or rooster or whatever) across the room so I have to get out of bed to turn it off.
- I keep a sweatshirt or jacket and slippers right next to the bed so that when I have to peel myself out of that snuggly cocoon of warmth, I can bundle right back up on my way to the bathroom via the alarm turn-off.
- I put my workout clothes, shoes, and supplies in the bathroom the night before so I'm all set and I don't have to dig in my closet for something to wear. If the thought of doing this seems unbearable, try exercising in your PJs. It's actually not bad and it eliminates a step in the morning routine which can make it much easier.
- I don't read emails, browse social media, or look at the news until my workout is finished. This takes discipline but eliminates a lot of dead time in the morning and lets me get right to my workout. The sooner I do it, the sooner I can get on with my day.
2. Set small, realistic goals and reward achievements
I get pretty overzealous on December 31 when I imagine how awesome I'll be at exercising everyday. Then I actually try to do it and it's tricky to find time, I'm out of shape so the feeling of cardiac arrest takes over way too soon, and I'm ready to quit five minutes in (but then I read THIS and I get over it). I've discovered over time that I need to set small goals and give myself lots of opportunities to achieve (aka I bribe myself). This means that the first day I exercise, I tell myself I can earn a small reward (for me, it's my favorite green smoothie from Roxberry or a new bottle of nail polish but do whatever floats your boat). Once I have a week's worth of regular exercise and healthy habits under my belt, I reward myself again. Then, when I look back and realize I've exercised and eaten healthy food for two weeks, I give my self another reward. What can I say? ...I'm like Pavlov's Dogs...I need the classical conditioning in my life, I guess. And it works, so I'm going to keep doing it. The rewards don't have to be physical or consumable; give yourself an extra Netflix episode (Taboo on the DVR? Yes please!) or soak in the tub for an extra few minutes. Hard work deserves a little pay off, you know?
3. Do something different each day
It's wise to make an exercise plan so you can be sure to target each muscle group and include cardiovascular training, but don't limit yourself to doing the same thing every day. BORING! Try alternating strength training and cardio days. Instead of lifting weights every strength day, take a Pilates class or move furniture or shovel snow (I've been doing this at least three times a week since Christmas. Ahh...winter in Utah). On cardio days, take a walk, go for a swim, play Just Dance on your gaming console, or just have a solo dance party in your kitchen. Make moving for 30 minutes every day the goal and think of creative ways to make that happen. Don't succumb to boredom!
4. Take progress photos every six weeks
I've never been a fan of taking undies-or-bikini-clad photos of myself, but I took a front, side, and back photo of myself in my fitness clothes before I started a new program last summer and I was stunned to see the difference in my body six weeks later. I had more muscle tone, my bum was perky, and those photos turned out to be the best motivation I ever had in my life. Wear whatever you're comfortable in and don't feel weird when you admire all the progress you can see. It really is amazing to see the transformation!
5. Do what you love and know that your preferences might change
There was a time in my life when I loved going to a Zumba class with my girlfriends every morning and another time in my life when all I wanted to do was train for and compete in crazy, insane races (13 miles of climbing through all that mud...WHAT was I thinking?!). At this point, I'm way happier on my own doing circuit training in my basement. Do what you love and when you start to not love it anymore, change your plan of attack. The point of exercise is overall well-being through progress and consistency. Do whatever is needed to keep it fun, challenging, interesting, and inspiring to you. When you hit a plateau or a mental wall, try something new.
I hope these tips help you stick to your plan and achieve your healthy goals! Let me know your tricks to stay motivated in the comments. Also, do you have any delicious, healthy recipes to share? Link to them in the comments, please...I need some new ideas! Stay happy and healthy, my friends!