When starting a new workout regime or diet plan we all struggle with one huge aspect - motivation.
Setting a goal or starting a new regime is simple because we're excited. But we often overlook how to maintain day one's excitement to the last day.
“Shane, how do I stay motivated?”
A question I often encounter once some one has started on their path. This question shows its ugly face anywhere from one week, three months to one year. There is no proven time where it arrives, but trust me, it will.
I have experienced the excitement of engaging in a new routine myself, only to find myself struggling with the idea of staying on this path. Truth be told, I have been successful and I have also failed. The great thing about failing is that you often learn something.
I have stated some strategies which have helped me maintain motivation:
1. Make It Personal.
What is it you want? No I mean really want. Is it weight loss? Okay, great. But why? What happens after that weight loss? Is it more love? Acceptance? Attaching some personal relevance to our goals gives it purpose and makes it mean something.
2. Make It Specific & Measureable.
You want to lose weight - great! How much? You want to get stronger - fantastic! In what way? When we set goals we often set them too vague and generalized. We want to be specific. Saying you want to lose weight is great, but saying you want to lose 20 pounds gives you a number to hit. Something to strive for.
Having a measurable goal, allows you to keep track of progress, stay focused on what you are trying to achieve. Also seeing yourself getting closer to this goal is exciting and self motivating in itself.
3. Break It Down.
Long Term vs. Short Term. You want to set out a basic outline of what you want to achieve. For instance, wanting to lose 100 pounds can be daunting. Like many challenges in life, I like to break it down. Don’t focus on the end goal itself. Focus on small increments on how you are to get there. “Check stops”, if you will.
Every week, decide you will lose 1 to 2 pounds. This puts you at about 8 pounds a month, which puts you at about 95-100lbs for the year. Setting short-term goals that are on the way to your end goal makes the challenge not so daunting.
4. Do Not Be A Perfectionist.
80% STRICT.. 20% LEANENT. When it comes down to it, stop striving for perfection. Its not maintainable, realistic and more often than not it's unattainable. If you miss a workout, it’s not the end of the world. If you eat some pizza, ice cream or what have you - enjoy it, and move on. Do not stress about it. Life should be about moderation. Give yourself a break.
You eat well majority of the time, exercise and lead a busy life with social and professional events. You cannot be 100%, 100% of the time. Strive for 80%, 100% of the time.
5. Pick An Idol.
Sounds kind of funny, but pick someone you look up to and read their bio. Find out how they got where they are. What were their successes, struggles, failures, and lessons learned? Chances are they have had some of the same barriers you have. You could pick up some tips/tricks that relate to you and your situation.
6. Make It Public.
This can be terrifying. But posting or mentioning to someone your new goal is setting you up for more accountability. You will have more support. You never know who is also struggling with staying towards their goals or who is having the same issue as you. You can build a support system with people who have the same goals as you.
7. Write It Down.
Simple and effective. Write down the goal you have for yourself. Post it where you often frequent and some places that are more “random” and “odd”. For me, in the past I have placed a post-it on the fridge, by the bathroom mirror, in the bedroom by the door.
The latest, I have a ”reminder” set in my iPhone that goes off and now and then. This helps remind you of your goals, not how far you have to go, but how far you have come. It’s a little self check-in to help remind you of why you are embarking on this goal.
Marking your progress down keeps you on track because you can see what you last weighed, how much you lifted or how many reps/sets you performed. It keeps you pushing to be better than you were last week. It lets you know if you are on track or if you are off track.
Counting calories becomes huge when hitting caloric deficits for weight loss or surpluses for weight gain. Its hard to know how much you're really consuming. Also, seeing yourself get stronger, lose weight and become faster, will push you forward.
9. Think About It.
“Do I really want this?”, is usually a question I ask myself. When I find myself struggling to get in a workout or diving into a bag of chocolate almonds, I take 10 seconds to think to myself.
It sounds silly, but it works for me. It takes out the impromptu reaction to just grab that bag of chips or go home right after work and skip the workout. Actually stopping to revaluate the goal I found works well.
10. Take Progress Pictures.
I was never adamant on taking progress pictures, I usually focused on the measurements and the scale.
Then one day I was scrolling through pictures, saw a "before" picture I had taken of myself. Of course I had to take an "after" picture, which happened to be about a year and a bit later. I was shocked at the difference the two looked.
I hadn't felt any different than a year ago (that I remembered). I knew I was stronger. But comparing the two pictures, I was happy with the amount my body composition, and size had changed. I had put on almost 10 pounds in that time, and it showed in my change in muscle mass.
I then came to realize that pictures are important when maintaining motivation and marking progress. You can pay attention to the numbers, but that can get tedious and stressful. What's remarkable is seeing the difference in your body.
YOU CAN DO IT!