Being fired up to get in shape or improve your health is admirable. An offhand comment from someone close to you or a major health scare might do the trick and get you to finally buy that gym membership or join a Yoga studio. You’ll get in shape and feel great. If you’re lucky, that’ll be the end of the story and you’ll spend the rest of your days ripped and pitying us mere mortals and our eternal struggle to create lasting exercise motivation.
For the rest of us, the battle shall continue. We’ll eat too much in the holiday season and regret it afterwards. Weeks will pass where not a single weight is lifted nor a sneaker laced. Work, family and life in general will keep getting in the way at every opportunity. Luckily, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are ways to create exercise motivation that lasts. Here are 5 of them:
Set GOALS and goals
Start by setting a BIG GOAL and then break it down into smaller mini-goals that can be landmarks on your journey. Whether you want to complete an Ironman, compete in a bodybuilding contest or just want to lose a bunch of weight and get your health in order, you’ll need a set of milestones along the way.
Without these smaller goals, you might become overwhelmed at the magnitude of what’s in front of you. Equally, without a big one, you’ll most likely get lazy when the novelty of post-workout endorphins, dopamine and serotonin wears off.
Find an activity you Love
Just because your partner likes jogging or your friend swears by Zumba, doesn’t mean these things will be for you. By all means, give them a go! But don’t become dispirited if someone else’s favorite activity or the latest fad doesn’t work for you. With a can-do attitude and an open mind, there are virtually limitless forms of movement you can explore.
Maybe the camaraderie of team sports will be your thing, perhaps it’ll be the tranquility of hiking through nature or the rush of adrenaline from extreme sports. Once you find something that you love doing, creating lasting exercise motivation will take care of itself.
Get training partners
Having someone who will send a text reminder the night before, share early morning drives to training or events, and be there to push you when needed is invaluable when it comes to maintaining exercise motivation. If you’re a semi-decent human being, you’ll feel pretty bad about letting your training partner down, and we all know that guilt is a great motivator.
Even if you do an individual sport it can be handy to have like-minded buddies who share useful information and ideas with you. Team sports or group activities are a great way to form social bonds. It’s clear that identifying with a group is one of the most powerful needs we have as human beings. Finding one that you enjoy being a part of is a surefire way to keep yourself coming back for more.
Cliches are often cliches for a reason. It’s fair to say that when it comes to creating and maintaining exercise motivation, knowledge really is power. Taking the time to learn about your body and mind will almost certainly motivate you to protect them. Realizing that you can develop near superhuman powers and extend your lifespan by multiple years could be the motivation you’ve always been searching for. If not, perhaps learning about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle will shock you into action.
There is so much incredible knowledge out there about health, nutrition, lifestyle and movement. The more of it you encounter, the better idea you’ll have about what will work for you and why certain things don’t.
Record your progress
Before and after photos are the oldest trick in the book, so why not use it on yourself? Tracking your progress through visual material or numbers is a great way to maintain exercise motivation. We’re not wired to perceive gradual change. You don’t notice how much a child grows in day or how much weight you put on in a weekend binge. But cold hard data never lies (unless you’re really good at manipulating it).
Seeing your progress on a spreadsheet or as you scroll through your phone’s images can be a lovely little boost to the ego. Just don’t let it get to your head!