In simple terms, motivation is the desire to do something. This can be anything and is pretty important in our world of health and fitness. Everyone needs motivation but we are all different so what motivates one person may completely demotivate another.
A client came to see me last week with what turned out to be an interesting story. As a now regular exerciser who has conquered some pretty big milestones already with her health and fitness, she decided to take on a new challenge and enter a 10km race. Perfect, a goal, a specific target, a challenge. This is the motivation I need, she thought.
However 3 months later, her training had almost stopped. From doing 3 runs a week alongside specific strength training and a Zumba class she was now struggling to make 1 exercise session a week and had pretty much stopped running. As well as this, her usually healthy eating regime had been completely sacked off. What was intended to motivate and push her forwards had had the complete opposite effect, and made her feel miserable, pressured and guilty.
Thankfully her response was fantastic, in her words. “Fuck it, I’m a grown up, I’m going to do what makes me happy”, so the race was abandoned, she booked in to some of our synergise classes (small group training sessions) and an appointment with us to get her mojo back. We then set out a new goal of enjoying exercise again, took a few base measurements and assigned her one of our staff members to support her in her journey.
This is a great example of how we are all different and what motivates some may well have the opposite effect on others. So discover what motivates you and then find a way of using that to reach your health and fitness goals.
Here are a few ideas of what can be used as motivation.
- Enjoyment – Finding a way to get enjoyment from the process is definitely a great motivator. Intrinsically enjoying exercise isn’t for everyone but if you find a form of exercise that you enjoy then don’t underestimate the motivational power this has. Flipping your mind set from “I have to do this to achieve my goals” to “I want to do this because I enjoy it” can work wonders. Sometimes I go to the gym with the sole intention of feeling better, I use the training session as the motivator, by the end I feel motivated to train but I’ve already done it.
- Keeping exercise at the forefront of your mind – ok so you’ve set yourself some goals, great, made them specific, nice, written them down, perfect (we’ve all been told to do that right?). Off to the gym you go, pop the goals in the drawer and…….. forget all about them. 4 weeks later you’ve been to the gym twice and feel completely unmotivated. Try and find ways to keep exercise at in your periphery. This can be in all sorts of ways, a picture on your phone, a note on the calendar, a regular appointment with a personal trainer, walking past the gym on your way to work, keeping your kit bag in the car. All of these things just keep health and fitness in your mind.
- Train with someone fitter/stronger than you are – Being the fittest of your group of peers is a great feeling but if you really want to push yourself you should consider training with someone or a group where you’re not the big fish. This adds competition and potentially a drive to match up to those around you.
- Find some accountability – the thought of failure isn’t nice and this can sometimes be used as motivation. This is where entering a race comes in or writing a blog, posting on social media, having a bet or even just telling your closest friends. Having something to hold you accountable to the goal can give you the push when you need it most. Finding the right accountability for you is important though. As in the story above, having a race booked, built pressure and was demotivating but for others this has really been the key to pushing forwards.
In simple terms, find your motivation and then use it to reach your goals. No one else can give you motivation.