Getting motivated to JUMP if you’re not JACKED is a life long struggle. If you are like me, and millions of other people, January 1st brings great initiative to start a new exercise regime. However, as the months move on and the weather (at least in the north) continues to discourage physical movement that doesn’t involve a blanket and mug of hot cocoa, the visions of health and fitness that we conceived at the first of the year start to vanish into fantasy. Excuse after excuse becomes the new way of addressing our need for calisthenics.
Is there a magic button that can get us motivated and KEEP us motivated throughout the entire year? Well... NO. I wish. It would be so convenient if our desire to sweat, tear down muscle, and run our heart rates into triple digits outweighed our desire to stay warm, cozy and rested. It would be so agreeable if weight was easier to get off than put on and health was achieved by just knowing the right answers rather than actually doing the right things. But alas... we live in reality.
For me, I have searched for years for the activities that keep me motivated to stay fit. It has been a long journey of trying new things, recovering from doing the wrong things, hating what I’m doing, and finding new loves that minister to my spirit as much as my body. Even though my weight has continued to fluctuate despite the increase of my physical activity, I know for fact that I am healthier and happier because exercise has become a regular part of my life. The key is to find that 1, or 2,3,4,5, factors that gets you motivated and keeps you motivated. I have listed 10 means of motivation. The truth is you need more than one motivator. You need an arsenal of factors because depending on the day, the weather, or the time in your life, any specific factor may be the magic button for that specific moment.
1.Wear your workout clothes in the house, including tennis shoes. If you dress the part, your mind is more prepared for the oncoming activity.
2. Do activities you actually enjoy. If you like to dance, then join a belly dancing class or buy a zumba DVD. Remember your youthful days of biking and skating? Try those again, you may still love them. For me, anything outside in nature is a better option. I HATE exercising inside.
3. Chose routines or programs that are short and sweet. With a busy schedule, the idea of spending 45 minutes sweating your body weight is very intimidating. However, research shows that you don’t need to spend a ton of time working out. High intensity, brief interval training (Tabata, for instance) can be extremely effective and only takes less than 10 minutes. Save those longer routines for weekends.
4. Pay for a membership. Money is a mega motivator, especially if you see the money coming out of your account on a regular basis. Paying for an entire year membership won’t be as effective because “out of sight, out of mind”. Pay month by month and you will be more likely to use that option. Also, remember, gyms are not your only “pay per month” alternative. I grew up doing Karate. I would love to do that again. There are also a good selection of on-line workout videos or even dance classes. Get creative.
5. Get a buddy for accountability. Some individuals need accountability. For others, a buddy systems provides a social outlet. Either way, having a friend to exercise with can keep you motivated. On the other hand, for me, I like being alone. I rarely get time to myself, so spending an hour on a bike with just my own thoughts is another form of motivation. It’s an escape.
6. Set goals and make them public. Whether it’s a certain amount of weight you want to lose or a specific number of miles to walk, goal setting keeps you focused. The type “A” side to my personality feeds on goal setting and to-do lists. My family has yearly bucket lists items we aim to complete, and half of them involve some atheltic accomplishment. Set a goal and do it.
7. Use apps and programs, like runkeeper or couch to 5K. This point goes along with #7 because most of the apps that are available for exercise have settings that allow you to set goals. Runkeeper (on my phone) records every mile I walk, skate, bike, or ski. It shows me charts by month and year. I love getting notified that I have surpassed a previous acheivement.
8. Sign up for a race, giving yourself time to train. There is very little that compares to the adrenalin and excitement of a morning race. Even though you may throw up after crossing the finish line, you will feel an amazing sense of pride and accomplishment. Be careful though.... races are addictive. You will get hooked on collecting those bibs and medals. You don’t have to be fast, you just have to last, because ultimatley, you are racing against yourself and all of those negative thoughts telling you that you will never be able to do it.
9. Have an arsenal of activities to chose from for each season of the year. Winter is not an excuse to stay inside. Learn to cross country ski or snowshoe. If the summer heat (half my life was spent experiencing the oppressive summer heat of Florida) causes you to hibernate inside the cool cave of your house, start swimming or get up earlier. Having a treadmill on hand is a great option for days when the weather is simply dangerous. Variety is the spice of life. You don’t need to be “just a runner” or a “cyclist” or “a swimmer”.... you get the picture. Do it all.
10. Join a team. You are never too old to play softball, volleyball, or soccer. All of these are good options for regular exercise. They also provide much needed social outlets for those stuck with small children or behind a desk all day. If you don’t know of any teams around you, start one yourself. Someone has too, so why not you?
In the end, finding that motivator that will get you moving is a worth while effort. Like me, you may find yourself amazed by your new love of exercise. So, get over the fact that you are going to sweat and maybe shower more than once a day, it’s worth it.
Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what keeps you motivated to stay active.
** Stock photos provided by: dollarphotoclub.com