How are you doing with that New Year’s Resolution? You vowed to get healthy, lose weight, and change your lifestyle. It’s rarely a matter of “can do.” It’s almost always a matter of “will do.”
Things do get in the way. There can expect the unexpected to keep you from the gym. Children get sick, cars break down, work requires you to stay, and more justified reasons come up. But humans are also good at making up excuses or accumulating reasons not to stick to their plans.
Sweat might be 20 percent of the effort, but perseverance is the other 80 percent. So you need a mental discipline, strategic approaches to stay motivated.
7 working strategies to stay motivated
Virginia Anderson of WebMD says, “To stick with an exercise routine, you need to get out there when that little voice inside you says, ‘I’ll do that tomorrow. Or the day after — maybe.’ Motivation does that, and it’s not about just powering through.”
Any strategy needs a starting line. At the start, you should take a really good and honest look at yourself. The better gyms and fitness trainers will help you measure your neck, biceps, chest, waist, hips, thighs, and calves. They will weigh you and make some calculation of your BMI (Body Mass Index). Then, with a full-body selfie in your gym clothes, you can carry the image on your phone. This is your “before” shot.
But you need a mental “before” shot, too. You should start a written journal with remarks about how you are feeling at the time. It’s easier to work out when your head is straight emotionally, but that won’t be every day. Writing thoughts down will get things off your mind and provide a record you might study for repeated events.
If you link your daily diet with your workout plans, you have another strategic approach. The emphasis here is on planning things parallel. If, for example, your plan schedules workouts for four days per week, you want to plan meals for that day and the intervening days. You should ask your doctor or fitness adviser on how to schedule the proteins, carbs, and fluids.
You should not dive into dieting fads without advice, but if you are serious, you should set up breakfast, lunch, and dinner. To be fair, you should also build in an occasional break or treat to reward yourself for even small achievements.
If you expect to change your life, you’ll find you cannot do it alone. So you start with family. You need their support. They must give you the time to meet your schedule, and they must support your diet plans.
It may also mean giving up some of your social contacts. If friends and co-workers meet for pizza and beers every Friday, you must opt out whether they understand or not. Instead, you can make friends at the gym and hopefully pick one or two to work out on the same schedule and regimen. Their shared support should keep you motivated.
You should make short- and long-term goals. The short-term goals might focus on the weights you are lifting, the reps you are doing, and/or the miles you walk, run, or jog. Setting goals as short as weekly will keep your nose to the grindstone.
Those short-term goals will accumulate toward a long-term objective or pounds or inches gained or lost. The incremental goals serve as measures of progress, but they also indicate what adjustments you should make in your schedule.
Most workout clubs have televisions to watch while you use the treadmills and other devices. They allow you to watch the news, sports, or favorite entertainment. It will kill time, keep you preoccupied, and enforce the habit.
You can find out more about how to take refuge in your earbuds. People listen to podcasts, classroom lectures, and favorite music playlists. Listening distracts from strain and pain while it speeds up the exercise regimen. If your workout is one hour, the entertainment will make the hour speed by.
There are many ways to exercise in a gym, so you should create at least two regimens. In each regimen, you would use different machines. Perhaps, you could work the upper body one day and lower body another day. You could alternate between cardio routines and muscle routines. The idea is to reduce the risk of lost interest.
You also don’t have to remain in the gym. You can walk and hike rather than run the treadmill. You can swim or jog between gym visits. Opting for variety mixes up the interest and body parts used, and this sustains interest.
The best way to find a workout buddy is to convert one of your friends to make a lifestyle change. Adding a friend to your plan shares the interest and changes the motivation slightly now that you have the same interests.
It can also set up healthy competition between friends. You become the mentor and discuss individual and “team” goals. You can then also support each other on diet, smoking cessation, and drinking if those are issues.
Perseverance from the beginning
Mayo Clinic observes, “Many people start fitness programs, but they may stop when they get bored, they don’t enjoy it or results come too slowly.” Going back to the start, your goals must have realistic expectations. If you lose sight of your goals, incremental advances, benchmark checks, buddy input, you risk losing the motivation that makes a difference.
Want to lose weight but don’t feel up to it? Want to build muscle but hurt from yesterday? Want to stick with it but have lost interest? You may need an occasional break. But you must get back on track asap.
You can lose track, you might lose interest, and you could lose energy. But the longer the break the longer it takes to reframe your goals, regimen, and metrics.