Which fitness goals did you set this year and are struggling to keep up?
In the beginning it's all fun and games, but it’s far too easy to fall off the exercise wagon.
This is normal and you're not alone.
Check out these five simple ways to stay motivated - and on track with your fitness goals.
All backed by science.
1. Make a convenient plan - and stick to it!
We're often so busy that hours go by super fast and we barely notice.
How can we find the time to exercise?
If you schedule your workouts in advance, this will no longer be an excuse. Look at your agenda and check where you can fit in some workout time.
What about switching up those 30 min scrolling Instagram for a quick HIIT workout? Can you spare 15 minutes from your lunch hour?
Yes, not every exercise need to be an hour long and not all of them require a ton of intensity. If you don’t have an hour to crunch every day, don’t worry, 30 minutes of training can be just as effective. Schedule your workouts as you would any other important meeting. But remember to make a convenient plan to give you extra willpower when you need one. Don’t schedule classes too early in the morning when you know you're a snoozer... or plan to workout somewhere too far from your house.
If you’re scheduling your workouts after work, make sure to always have your outfits in your bag and a power snack to keep the tummy satisfied and the energy levels up.
Do your best to stick to your routine. Consistency is key. If you see that you're starting to make excuses and pushing your workouts for next Monday, stop and revisit your plan. This is a type of mindset that can easily set you off.
If you’re prone to do this, tip number 3 might be just what you need. Hang in there!
2. Set small goals to achieve big ones
A good recipe for demotivation is to set unrealistic goals from the beginning like: Work out 7 times per week or Get a six-pack in a month.
It’s much harder to keep your eye on the prize if it’s so high you can’t reach it.
Remember that big, unrealistic goals will only cause frustration. If you start small, you can slowly build your way up.
An English study found that people who set exercise process-based goals like ‘doing 100 squats in a month’ end up more motivated to stick to their routine rather than an outcome like ‘losing 5 kg in weight’.
They also showed higher levels of enjoyment and lower levels of tension than others who set outcome-based goals. Experiment and discover what type of goal motivate you the most and remind yourself of it on a daily basis.
3. Buddy up!
A 2010 study by Stanford University found that it's easier to quit when we have only ourselves to be accountable for our goals.
Having social support from others can help us stay motivated.
So why not plan workouts together with a friend?
It’s way harder to hit the snooze button if you have a buddy waiting for you.
If you don’t have a friend who’s up for it, a buddy can also be a personal trainer or other online buddies from a social network.
There are many support groups online with fitness experts or others who are on the same track. They can support you and help you create accountability.
A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that a healthy social competition and support on social media platforms can motivate you to workout more.
It helps you stay on track by holding each other accountable, sharing progress and supporting one another.
If you’re not into any of that, you can also sign up for that HIIT or Zumba class you’ve been interested in but never tried.
Scientists have found that social interaction in a group setting can be a driver for encouragement and motivation.
Plus, the little feeling of competition you get when nailing that downward facing dog like a champ - while your class neighbour is struggling - creates a great setting for accountability.
Altogether this can boost your mood and your interest to turn up to the class every time.
4. Track your progress and celebrate your wins
Another great method to keep your fire burning is to monitor your progress.
Some people find it useful to keep a diary, or use an app to track activities. Others like to take photographs of their bodies to see how it's slowly changing.
Reaching a fitness goal is a process, once you understand that, tracking the incremental changes and improvements gives you something to celebrate.
Celebrate even the small wins! This is an important part of building confidence and motivation.
If you don’t track results, it’s more likely that you don’t see the progress. And that is a trigger for giving up. But keep in mind that change takes time, if it’s not quick enough, don’t just think it’s not going to work.
Keeping track of your progress shows you where you’re at and what’s left for you to reach your end goal, which can give a super mental boost to keep going.
Next to the psychological bonus point, tracking also allows you to check if you’re not making progress at all.
This way you can course-correct your routine to best fit your goals, or perhaps set a more achievable goal instead.
Ps: Track how working out makes you feel too, not only how it looks on you.
How you feel can be a reward in itself.
Remind yourself of that moment after you finish a routine, when you had more energy, the happiness and satisfaction pumping up…
Does that motivate you to get back at it again?
5. Make it fun-ky and switch it up sometimes
No pain no gain?!
If it’s only painful to the muscle with no fun, then it will be hard to stay motivated.
You're much more likely to drop that last set of push-ups if you are actually enjoying it.
Listen to your body and pick workouts that you like. Not everyone can jog in a treadmill every day for 50 minutes and feel like wanting more next day. There isn’t a single way to work out. Anything that keeps you moving and excited is already good. If you love to dance but hate fitness, don’t torture yourself at those machines and go for dance workouts.
If indoor exercise gets you bored and feeling blue, then head outdoors if that gives you satisfaction and mental wellbeing.
Another way to add a dose of extra fun into your workout is by making a killer playlist. Studies show that hitting the tunes while working out can give that boost you need by increasing endurance and distracting you from pain while eliminating boredom by getting you in the funky mood. But remember that even the most fun thing ever can get boring after a while.
Design your exercise routine around a variety of exercise methods, and change it often. Varying your workouts also can help you challenge your body in different ways - while getting those muscles you didn’t even know you had workin’ up.
These are just a few methods you can try out to stay motivated to smash your workouts regularly - and for a long period of time. But there’s no right way of exercising or getting fit. It’s all about understanding what your biggest barriers are and how to break them.
Write down what are the thoughts, and what’s blocking you to stay motivated. Then, see what you could do instead. The key is to find what works for you and keeps your fire burning to continue your fitness adventures. If you don’t know where to start... why not start from these five things I just mentioned?
1. Make a convenient plan
2. Set small goals
3. Buddy up!
4. Track your progress
5. HAVE FUN!
If you manage to stick to your routines and keep yourself motivated, you’ll be setting yourself up for better health, happiness, and energy.
Getting into the habit of exercising can only bring positive changes to everything else in your life.