This time of year is where I see a lot of my clients, and myself, start to lose motivation. It is far enough away from the new year and new year resolutions to not have that same drive for change. The winter starts to feel super long and everyone starts yearning for spring and better weather. The daylight hours are improving but they’re just not quite there in the early morning to help get you out of bed.
There are certainly times when you should stay in a bed a bit longer and give yourself a break. But, there are also times when you need to call yourself out on your own crappy excuses and just get up, go for that swim/bike/run or get to the gym. You can spend so long lying there staring at the ceiling or scrolling through instagram, procrastinating, bullshit excuse searching that you waste all that time that you could have been doing whatever you are trying to avoid because you feel like you need more sleep…but you are not actually sleeping.
Knowing when to listen to your body and when to just tell yourself to shut up and get on with it isn’t easy and just takes a lot of experience, bad decisions and learning the hard way. However, if it is just a lot of mind chatter holding you back then below are my 5 tips to help override the chatter and drive that motivation.
1. FIND A PURPOSE
This doesn’t have to be ground-breaking. The most important thing is to make sure it is realistic and achievable. The smaller wins the better. If your main goal is weight loss, achieving that ultimate goal can take a long time and there will be many ups and downs along the way. Break this goal up into lots of mini goals.
For example, if you are using running to help you lose weight then focus on how long you run for or how far. Find a Park Run near you and bring some friends along to run it with you. Find a 5km/10km race or even a half marathon if you dare! There is nothing like a big race looming over you to give you some motivation to actually train for it!
If you are resistance training then make a pull up or push up your goal, or how heavy you squat each week. If you did 3 sets of 8 reps last week how about challenging yourself to do an extra set or more reps the next week?
For my fellow swim, bike, runners, picking an A race is great but for most of us that is a loooong way off into the season. Find other smaller races for fun and good training in the lead up. Do a training camp holiday with friends to give you something to work towards and enjoy in between.
2. DO IT WITH FRIENDS
You may be more prepared to skip a session if it’s just you but if you have a friend waiting and counting on you, that becomes a lot tougher to do!
Regardless of letting them down, it is much more fun doing a session with someone. Joining a club is also a fantastic way to meet like-minded people and to just have to turn up to a session and be told what to do rather than having to program for yourself. You can meet many inspiring people and get a lot of perspective too!
3. DO NOT OVERTHINK IT
The mind. It can make or break you. Everyone has their own little ways of overcoming it. Mantras, counting from 1 to 10 over and over, singing a song to yourself, “just one more step”, playing out a scene of a movie in your head. These work well for when you are in that dark place in a race or in a session. Mind games can also work to just get you there to that session too.
If I have a silly stupid big set to do like a 3 hour turbo, 2 hour run or a 4km swim, I never think about how long the whole set will take me. If I did I don’t think I would ever start! Focus on just getting on the bike or to the pool. As you are getting ready to go just tell yourself that is all you are doing and get yourself there. Take each part of the set as its comes. Looking ahead can fill you with dread but more often than not, once you are in it, it is not as bad as it first appeared. Just do your best for how you feel that day. That is all you can ever expect of yourself. The consistency of you just being there and doing it is the key. Putting that much pressure on yourself is eventually going to make you crack.
4. GET A COACH
I certainly have the knowledge to know how to program myself, what I should and shouldn’t do, how best to eat etc. However, I would not stand a chance of performing at my best without someone telling me to. There are many coaches out there who could not and would not surrender the control to someone else. I am not like that. I need a coach to tell me what to do and to help motivate me. More often than not, if someone tells me to do something I will do it. For sure, I have pretty strong will power and can force myself to do a lot of things. But I am at my best with a coach. I also like seeing things from another professional’s perspective. To learn from them and adapt and improve my own approaches.
For motivation, there is nothing like having a coach to impress and not let down. It is also a great safety net and port of call in case you are at risk of over doing it and to have someone else to tell you to stop. It can help take the inexorable guilt away if nothing else. Equally, it is great for having someone to tell you to stop being such a milksop and
get on with it.
5. DO SOMETHING YOU GENUINELY ENJOY
The last and most important point. There is no miracle diet or form of exercise that is THE best for weight loss, improved strength, fitness or booty shape. The best program will not work if you cannot stick to it. We are all different and there is no one size fits all.
Forcing yourself to do something you hate is not sustainable. Just because it “worked” for @tinywaistbigboobs or @bicepsRus on instagram does not mean it will work for you. Unfortunately there is rarely an easy way to achieve something worth achieving. All my points above can help towards motivating yourself for any change. Bottom line, it can be any form of movement as long as you enjoy it. Make sure to include the things you enjoy eating and avoid restriction. All these fad diet trends depend on you failing so you keep going back to them.
Do away with the fads, “quick fixes” and beach body workouts. Find what works for YOU.