STRUGGLING TO FIND THE MOTIVATION TO EXERCISE? DO THESE!
Everyone knows exercising is immensely beneficial. However, one of the most frequent excuses they make for not doing it is that they just don’t feel motivated enough. They think it’s too tedious, time-consuming and stressful. Some complain of their busy days and how it’s often difficult to make time for exercise. And then, there’s the other class of people who started well and great but somehow got discouraged and lost their high spirits for the sport.
I’m not a medical doctor, neither am I a physiotherapist. I’m just a fitness evangelist committed to the gospel of regular exercising. Over a year ago, I started a WhatsApp group chat for fitness and wellness enthusiasts like me. We started off on the right foot and the first few days were great. We’d have a 7-day, 10-day or 15-day fitness challenge where I shared a list of moderate routines to do the next day and other helpful tips.
However, I noticed that somehow, the zeal faded as the days went by and the response became discouraging. Sadly, it happens to many people out there, and this can be traced to so many reasons. If you find yourself struggling to find the motivation to exercise, you are not alone, and this is why I wrote this for you (and me too).
Contrary to what you may be thinking now, I’m not just another creepy fitness instructor trying to coerce you into exercising or sweet-talk you into outdoing yourself. Far from it. I don’t believe in coercion. In fact, I didn’t dabble in fitness because anyone forced me to, I did because I wanted to. I got into fitness because I loved it, and that’s why I wrote this over a year ago.
I motivated myself into exercising. It was a conscious decision, and that’s why, today, I motivate others like me who have a passion for the rewarding art of exercising. The next few tips will surely help you reignite your passion for exercise (especially if you’ve lost the momentum somehow), and reignite your passion if you’ve been putting it off for so long.
1. Break It down
I admire Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson a lot. Michael Jai White too. And then Terry Crews and some other famous figures. If you know these guys, then you’ll understand my ideal physique. I love watching The Rock’s workout videos. And if there’s one thing that amazes me, it’s the fact that despite having that super-ripped and coveted physique, he’s unrelenting. I often wonder what it will take to achieve what he has so far, but I know he didn’t get there in a day. It took him years of grinding!
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you are only obsessed with the bigger picture. Having a long-term is great, but nobody gets there in a day or two. Depending on whatever you are trying to achieve, even a year might be too short. However, you’ll eventually realise that every little effort adds up.
So, let’s say you want to start with committing 3 hours to exercise per week. It doesn’t have to sound so daunting. You can split these over 5 or 6 days a week and take 1 or 2 days to rest and recuperate. That means you would exercise between 30–35 minutes per day. That will definitely make it easier and less overwhelming.
Same goes for anyone trying to lose weight. It can be discouraging when you’re too focused on your target weight or physique. The endgame usually takes a lot of time, sacrifice and discipline. So, why not take it as little as two kilograms at a time? Then when you are down two kilos, feel proud and then think about the next two kilos. Just make sure your fitness goals are realistic and include clear milestones. Eventually, you’ll get used to it!
2. Dress for It!
Honestly speaking, getting out of bed or the couch to exercise is usually the toughest part of it all. And it’s usually tougher if it’s a cold morning. You feel groggy as you snuggle comfortably under the covers, especially if it’s a chilling. It’s natural to feel that way, but you won’t be achieving your fitness goals under the duvet. I’d always tell everyone who cared to listen, “Nothing good comes easy!”
Set an alarm or reminder with a motivational note — something like, “Get up, champ, you can do it!” or whatever you find inspiring. I always advise that you keep your workout clothes close by so when you open your eyes and look up from your bed, you can see them and be motivated to wear them and step out.
Back when I was jogging twice a week, I’d keep my vest, shorts, sneakers and socks near the bed so they’re within a gazing distance when I wake, and it always worked! Don’t overthink it. Just get dressed — it’s the best way to get motivated to work out. Unless you’re like an old roommate of mine some 9 years ago, it’s difficult to jump back on the couch after wearing your training clothes.
Remember when you were younger and couldn’t wait for the first day of school because you got some new school clothes, bag or wristwatch? Remember how you wanted to show them off so badly? Remember? Well, that’s some sort of motivation right there.
Get yourself a fitting workout kit, accessory or clothes that makes you feel good when you wear it. A top, headband, or new piece of equipment always does the magic of motivation. Just ensure they are comfortable enough for you and they don’t drag you behind!
3. Schedule a Regular Workout Time
It’s easy for other things to eat up all of your time. Work, domestic engagements, social activities and several other things can easily take your time all days of the week if you don’t make adequate arrangements. If you tell (or lie) to yourself that you’ll fix your workout for some time later, chances are high that you won’t. You need to rightly plan it out. A proper plan motivates you to work out.
So, how do you avoid procrastinating exercise? Schedule it just like you would any other appointment and stick to it. See your workout time as a self-improvement session, like a doctor’s appointment or work meeting. Since you wouldn’t want to miss any of such meetings, don’t no-show your workouts either.
Pick the most convenient time for you and clear your schedule beforehand. Some of the most committed exercisers do it every day before the sun comes up or late at night when the kids are in bed. Sit down with your weekly schedule and try to build in an hour each day to be good to your body.
4. Mix It up
They say variety is the spice of life. Imagine going to the same restaurant where they only serve one particular dish all the days of the week, or a nightclub where the DJ only plays one song all through the night. Yucky, right? I doubt you’ll want to visit any of those of two places many times. Well, it’s the same with exercising. It can really get boring and monotonous if there’s no variety and fluidity in it.
Once in a while — maybe monthly, try a completely new routine or sport. Don’t do the same workout every time. Use some innovation. You could go for yoga or a bike ride if you haven’t been doing so before, or try weightlifting.
Talk to your fitness instructor (if you have any) to see some new routines that will be beneficial and challenging. This will help you make your workout routine less stereotypical and more fun so you don’t lose interest in the long run.
5. Reach Out
It’s easier to lose motivation to exercise if you only go it alone. This is worse if you’re not much of a self-starter. The truth is, sometimes, we hit rock bottom and just lose the zeal to do even the things we used to do so easily. It’s natural. It’s human. And this is why it’s good to find some company.
Get someone who’s as passionate as you about exercising, or better yet, even more passionate than you. It might be your spouse, friend, family member or relative. Some call it an “accountability partner” — someone who’s willing to motivate you and give you that (soft) extra push you need when you’re low.
So, set a fitness goal, get a zesty friend on board, fix dates to exercise together, and get moving. You’ll be setting yourself up for a lifetime of better health, more happiness, and more energy for everything else in your life.
Better yet, you may consider joining a fitness group on your social networks or an online community of fitness enthusiasts, trainers and other experienced folks. This will help you get the support and motivation you need from people like you — those trying to lose weight and maintain healthy eating and inspiring exercise routines. This kind of online support can go a long way to help you find the motivation to exercise rather than just going it alone.
6. Dump the Junk
“You are what you eat.” Sounds cliché, but it’s still valid. I always say that our body is like a humongous machine continuously in the production cycle. The energy it manifests is totally a function of what we feed it.
Almost everyone knows that unhealthy, processed and high-sugar foods or “junk”, are just not good for the body. Even though they taste so good and are highly irresistible, they are best avoided or consumed in very small amounts because they do more harm than good for the body. Why?
When you consume these processed “sweet” foods, your body hardly gets the energy it needs to function optimally. When you binge on junk, much of it is stored up and hardly broken down soon enough. This is why you often feel tired, unmotivated, lazy and grumpy after consuming them. What’s worse? The more you eat, the more you crave. Also, the more you consume, the more it wears you down.
Therefore, it’s best to insist on eating a balanced diet always. To get more energy and motivation for exercise, opt for natural unprocessed foods instead. Go for fruits and vegetables as well as the three essential macronutrients — protein, carbohydrates, and fat. This will keep you healthy and energised so you can reach your fitness goals with less hassle.
7. Automate It
One of the points I raised in my first post about exercising is that there are a bunch of devices, tools and apps you can use to help your fitness journey. Besides the countless hardware, gadgets and equipment for tech freaks today, there are many other tools available on the Internet for free.
There are a gazillion YouTube videos, apps, wellness and fitness blogs, journals, and so many other free resources that can help you stay on track and keep you motivated to achieve your fitness goals. It all depends on where you’re looking.
As a relentless advocate of working out at home, one of the first set of apps I install on a new phone is a “home workouts” app. It’s been of great help to my fitness journey in more ways than I can ever explain. With such apps, I can set the difficulty level I prefer, or choose whichever body part I prefer to work on. That’s not all, I can also set reminders. It makes it all fun and easier.
Automating your workout schedules can also keep you motivated and on track to achieving your fitness goals faster and relatively easier. If you think fitness trackers or gadgets would be of help to you, then, by all means give them a go.
8. Motivate Others
Sounds ironic, right? I know. But there’s this amazing thing with giving to others, and it’s that it replenishes you. Someone once said nothing in nature was made for itself: rivers don’t drink water, trees don’t eat fruits, and so on. We aren’t meant to keep everything we have and know to ourselves alone. Guess why I wrote this?
I’ve realised that you learn more when you teach others, and you’re definitely happier and more fulfilled. Yes, there’s this sense of fulfilment that comes along with sharing what you know and feeling like a contributor to a greater cause. I might be wrong though, but I guess that’s why many people are actually into philanthropy.
In the world of exercise and fitness, sharing your knowledge and motivating others — just like I am right now — can go a long way to motivate you too. There are some things you don’t know you have until someone needs them. In essence, motivating others motivates you too. Supporting or “hyping” others also gets you hyped. It’s a win-win if you ask me.
9. Music? Yes!
I’ve always found music to be therapeutic. It’s always a sort of distraction and motivation to me. If there’s anything I can’t seem to get enough of, it’s writing, music and exercise. And somehow, all of these are interconnected.
One of the tweaks to get you motivated to exercise with music is to keep your workout playlist regularly updated with songs you like. For me, I prefer the upbeat pop songs. Also, rap, alternative rock and hip-hop vibes about self-will always slap. But, it depends on you though.
I’m sure there are wireless and waterproof ear pods you can connect with your device so you can move to while running or lifting weights. And if you prefer dancing or swimming, moving to the rhythm is a good way to go about it too. There are times I’ve heard some songs for the first time and I knew they just had to go in my workout playlist because of the inspiration they give. Whatever your style, I’m sure you can pick out one or two new songs to go with too.
Exercising has lots of great benefits — I hope to talk about the lesser-known advantages of exercise in my next post — and you’re really missing out if you’re not with the programme already. It’s time to face the reality and lace up your walking/running shoes. Toss the excuses already.
Whatever your motive for working out — weight loss/management or overall fitness/wellness — the time to begin is now. You simply can’t get it done while you’re still there making excuses. Get inspired. Get motivated.