One of the most irritating things to do is search aimlessly for fitness tips that’ll help me stay on track, only to find all the things that I already knew. Because I was a cross-country runner I know most of the basic tips and tricks for working out, and I’m often looking for advice that’s a little more advanced. If you’re like me and you already know the basics but you’re still struggling to stay committed to your workout schedule, here are some tips for you.
Try to pinpoint why you’re struggling, aka reflection and introspection
It’s easier said than done, but reflection and introspection are certainly worthwhile. Think about a time in your life when you were very fit (or very committed to a particular activity). What was going on during that time that motivated you? It was easy to pinpoint my motivation when I was running cross-country during high school: I had a team who depended on me to show up and run as hard as I could. The next time I was committed to running was during a summer I lived in D.C. It took a long time and a ton of reflecting to realize that it was loneliness and boredom that motivated me to exercise. Figuring out the reasoning behind your commitment to something can be very informative for staying committed in the future.
Learn to forgive yourself when you don’t exercise every day
You won’t get very far if you’re constantly berating yourself for skipping a workout. You should think of exercise as a fun, stress-relieving activity — not some mandatory assignment you have to get done. That attitude isn’t sustainable for developing a long-term, healthy relationship with exercise.
K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid!)
Is your gym far away from where you live or work? Did you plan a long route to run? Does your workout require a bunch of equipment? Sometimes it helps to simplify things. Make your workouts simple, short and above all, fun! You’re more likely to follow through on your workouts if they’re simple and easy. Remember, it’s about consistency, not complexity (and you can always make workouts more challenging if they get too easy).
Journal about your workouts
What’s going through your mind when it’s time to workout but you really don’t want to? Writing out those feelings in a journal can also help with pinpointing exactly why you’re struggling. It’s also important to journal when you do work out. Write about what activity you did, for how long and what you enjoyed about it. Knowing what workouts you enjoy and why will help you create a regular workout routine you'll want to do.
Donate those too-small clothes and buy ones that fit
Get rid of all your clothes that are too small if at all possible. Some people use their clothes that no longer fit as motivation to exercise and lose weight — this is one of the worst motivation strategies of all time. It literally never works. You just end up feeling discouraged if you’re doing well with your workouts but still can’t fit into those pants, that dress, etc. Don’t use too small clothes as motivation or you’ll be doomed to fail.
Focus on your inner voice
Find your inner voice and listen to it. One of the greatest struggles of running or going to the gym is feeling self-conscious, wondering whether other people are judging you. Let’s keep it 100: There is most likely someone who’s judging you. That’s where your inner voice comes in. Ignore them. Focus only on what you’re doing and whatever it was that motivated you to work out. Allow your powerful inner voice to drown out the haters.
Forget what your friends and family are telling you
What works for friends and family isn’t necessarily going to work for you. It’s great to have their support. Thank them for supporting you, and try some of their suggestions if you feel inclined to. But keep in mind that people are opinionated and will provide suggestions that work great for them, but might not be well-suited for you. Unless your friend or family member is a fitness expert of some kind (i.e., trainer, nutritionist, dietitian) who’s creating an individualized meal or exercise plan for you, take what they say with a grain of salt.
Only do activities that you enjoy
This goes right along with listening to your inner voice. Be open to trying out a variety of fitness activities, but stick with the activities that you like. What’s trendy or activities that other people enjoy might not be fun for you — and there’s nothing wrong with that! Find the activities that you like and stick with those.
Reassess your fitness goals, but this time make them S.M.A.R.T.
Your goals should be S.M.A.R.T: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely. For example: Let’s say your goal is to lose weight. Instead of saying “I want to lose weight this year,” re-write your goal to be as detailed and clear as possible: By August 1, 2016 (timely), I will lose 15 pounds (realistic) and maintain that weight loss (specific) by exercising at least three times per week and eating healthy meals in appropriate portion sizes (actionable). I will weigh myself no more than once per month to check my progress (measurable). Now you have a clear and detailed plan laid out. All you have to do is make sure you have the resources to carry out your plan: A place you can exercise (the gym, the park or a space in your home), articles to read and videos to watch to keep you going.
Use yourself, not others, as a source of #fitspiration
You — yes YOU — are a wonderful, powerful, beautiful human being. You are strong and you are accomplished. Think about all that your body has done for you. It carries you through life every day and doesn't fall apart. That's magnificent! Next time you're struggling to workout, think about everything you have accomplished (whether it's fitness related or not). Think about how far you've already come. Channel those positive thoughts in order to motivate yourself to exercise. Trust me, this will be a much better way to motivate yourself than staring at athletes' Instagram accounts wishing you could do what they're doing. You can succeed at working out. I believe in you, and I’m here to support anyone who’s struggling because I’m struggling, too. But if these cats can do it, so can we!
Let’s struggle through this and succeed together.