Let's face it, many of us often make new year's resolutions only to find out that it is not easy to to achieve them. This is especially common when it comes to health and fitness goals. Staying committed to goals is important otherwise there is no point making one in the first place. Today, I will share some a few tried and proven tips to keep your motivation level high throughout to help you achieve your new year's fitness goal:
Think about feeling good, not looking good
Rethink your resolution for exercising. If you are doing for external reason, like trying to achieve '6 pack', reaching certain weight loss goal, etc. your chance of adhering to an exercise routine will be low. Motivations that are driven by rewards or avoidance of punishment that arise from outside the individual are called extrinsic motivations. In contrast, Intrinsic motivation means you’re working out because it makes you feel good—both physically and emotionally. Children provide the best example of intrinsic motivation toward physical activity. They climb, skip, jump and run around the room simply for the fun of it. Intrinsic motivation also helps adults adhere to their fitness programs and not having to drag their feet to the gym. Once you have achieved the goal of establishing a regular routine, you can always work on the goals like weight loss, which will now become easier to achieve.
Some strategies to make you become more intrinsically motivated include:
· doing the activities that you enjoy,
· learning easy movements and make small progressive improvements,
· enjoying the positive feelings (both physical and emotional) you get from exercising
· Knowing that you are doing it for you and you only
No pain and all gain
Let go the 'go heavy or go home' or 'no pain no gain' mentality which we often see on banners plastered or written on the walls in many gyms. Instead, tell yourself that 'a bad workout is better than a workout that didn't happen'. Establishing a regular workout routine, no matter if the workouts are great or lousy, is crucial to help you achieve long-term success. Don't ever let anyone (others or yourself) put you down because your performance on a particular day is 'not to standard'. Every training session should be considered a victory and you should pat yourself on your back for a job well done. Slow and steady may not sound sexy than fast and furious but always remember the outcome of the race between the hare and tortoise.
Train with someone
Find a workout buddy or exercise with a group. While training alone is great, it may not be everyone's cup of tea. It takes a good dose of self-motivation, dedication and effort to pull it off successfully. If you are not the type who can do things alone or wake up at 5 am for your own scheduled workout, you probably need some nudge here and there. That's where buddy / group training come in. There are many benefits to working out with a partner, friends, or groups. It offers the benefits of accountability, friendly competition to keep you on your toes, and some social stimulation to make time fly by. You also get to develop group camaraderie and vibe you can't achieve when training alone. Start by finding some interesting physical activities and ask a friend or two to join you. A good gym might even have customized exercise programs for individuals exercising in a group to cater for differences in individual fitness levels and interests. Look around in clubs or gyms, and you should be able to find one that offers a training catering to partner / small group training.
Mix things up – cross train
When you keep doing the same things over and over again for long periods not only will your joints and muscles take a beating, you may experience mental exhaustion as well. To combat these, you need to keeping things fresh and varied by doing some cross-training. For instance, if you’re a regular runner then try to hit the elliptical trainer, rowing, bike, elliptical trainer or swimming pool once a week. If your routines primarily centre around the heavy weight training, it's time to lift lighter weights or try new exercises, for example doing some calisthenics (ie bodyweight) exercises. Switching things up will give your joints a break as well as improving other components of fitness like flexibility, endurance, agility and general fitness. It is also a great way of giving your mind a mental break from the usual mundane stuff while rekindling focus and interest, hence avoiding boredom and demotivation.
Part of the article has been adapted and published in the Jan's (2020) issue of the Expat magazine.