Motivation: Don’t be a couch potato
No motivation to do that workout today? You aren’t the only one, we all have the urge to skip workouts or not start a program because of numerous excuses we pull out of thin air. Well let’s put those excuses to rest and step up – DIY Style!
So let’s start by closing your eyes visualizing the person you physically want to be this time next year? What obstacles are blocking you from achieving that physique? These obstacles might be fear, lack of self-confidence or willpower, no nutrition or fitness knowledge, you can’t afford a gym…etc. Good try, but throw those excuses away. I want to help you remove all the obstacles and begin your journey to a healthier you.
Motivation to get you going
Now that you understand the obstacles holding you back, let’s start by taking some pre-workout program measurements and pictures.
It may sound silly but these will be vital tools in keeping you motivated when you hit a hill or plateau. One great way to keep the motivational ball rolling is to take a self-portrait of yourself (a selfie; front and side view) so you will know what physique you began with.
As you get into the groove of working out and you are feeling more fit you can look back at those images (wait at least a month into the program for noticeable results) to see how far you’ve come.
This will provide instant motivation (BOOM) to keep up with that regiment or nutrition program!
Another way to stay motivated is to do some self-assessment fitness tests before you start your regiment, such as the maximum number of pushups or sit-ups you can PROPERLY do in one minute. Like your selfie, you can go back and retest yourself and see how far you’ve come (a full article on self-assessed fitness tests to come soon)!
Now, it’s more beneficial to do both of these because science tells us that a multifaceted approach to exercise motivation is most effective at keeping us on the path to our goals (Li 1998).
Now that the fitness tests and pictures are out-of-the-way, it’s time to start small, especially if you are just beginning. This is very important. It’s not wise to jump into a full-blown 5-7 days a week exercise regiment with heavy resistance training and hours of cardio.
First of all, you’ll die (not really but you’ll be extremely sore) but you have a good chance of injury, and secondly you will probably get burnt out incredibly fast when the results aren’t appearing after the first week and you are super sore.
Doing this makes exercise seem like a job and takes the fun out of it, when we are actually enjoying exercising we can be more effective at blasting fat and staying motivated (Teixeira et al 2006)!
You should start off small with resistance training 3-4 times a week and doing 20-30 minutes of cardio 2-3 times a week (actually if you are really out of shape start off with walking for 30 minutes a day and progress from there, just get up and active) or doing HIIT sessions.
This will get you into the routine of exercising and helps you learn firsthand as you go (or via a personal trainer). Once you start to build up your strength and conditioning you can increase the length, intensity, and number of exercises in your workouts.
Eventually, you will be in that groove, working out 3-4 times a week and feeling good, how do we keep this motivational ball rolling? First of all let’s look back at our selfies and fitness tests scores, and even and weight loss which can provide instant motivation for one more rep or one more mile.
That’s all great and all but you may still need more motivation. One great, great way to keep putting in your workouts (or even start for that matter) and stay on your nutritional program is to have someone hold you accountable (Vartanian & Shaprow 2008).
Now, this doesn’t have to be a personal trainer (although they definitely will hold you accountable), it can be your spouse or someone you trust to keep you on track.
It could be as simple as having them ask you once a week if you are working towards your goals or they could actually be your fitness partner.
A fitness partner is the ultimate motivation which will hold you accountable to just show up and workout in the first place, because you don’t want to let that person down (Jeffery et al 1998)!
The only disadvantage could be scheduling conflicts or differences in physical fitness when starting the program. Lastly, taking pre-workout supplements can be a great motivator and get you in the mood for an intense workout but I will save that for another article.
The motivation to create, start, and follow through with a fitness/nutrition program is a lot like a business plan. You:
- Envision where you want to be in the future.
- Figure out how to achieve that vision.
- Just begin any way possible, but begin and slowly start increasing your fitness.
- After you get rolling you can grow into a bigger more intense exercise regime.
- Have peers/partners hold you accountable to achieve your goals.
These steps will keep you motivated and crushing your fitness goals. Motivation is all about implementing several small fail-safes to keep you on your fitness journey!
So get to it and go out there and Be Active!
Li F (1998) The exercise motivation scale: Its multifaceted structure and construct validity. J App Sport Psych 11:97-115.
Jeffery RW, Wing RR, Thorson C, Burton LR (1998) Use of personal trainers and financial incentives to increase exercise in a behavioral weight-loss program. J Con Clin Psych 66: 777.
Teixeira PJ, Going SB, Houtkooper LB, Cussler EC, Metcalfe LL, Blew RM, Sardinha LB, Lohman TG (2006) Exercise, motivation, eating, and body image variables as predictors of weight control. Med Sci Sports Ex 38: 179.
Vartanian LR, Shaprow JG (2008) Effects of weight stigma on exercise motivation and behavior: A preliminary investigation among college-aged females. J Health Psych 13: 131-138.
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