Frankly, beginning a workout routine is only half of the battle. Once you get started and find something that you enjoy, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re totally set. As time progresses, you might lose interest in the activity or life may just get in your way. It’s also possible that, as your body adapts and your fitness improves, you could stop seeing the dramatic results that you enjoyed when you first started. Whatever happens, everyone needs a little motivational boost occassionaly. So, here are three proven ways to stay motivated for your workouts.
Identify Your Potential Barriers
Many experts report that, within the first 6 months, nearly half of exercisers will stop their workouts. As mentioned above, there are many reasons that people give for dropping out, but by anticipating what could be your biggest stumbling block you can be prepared for it. If you feel like you might not have time for it, sit down and make a definite schedule on paper. Or, if you’re intimidated by the idea of starting a program look in to doing a few sessions with a trainer to get you acclimated to the gym. Even if you’ve been working out for a while, this far-sighted strategy can help you stay focused even when your life situation changes. Knowing your potential problem areas can help you be prepared to work through them if they even become an issue.
Set SMART Goals
While people have all sorts of reasons for not starting a workout program, the most common reason that people discontinue one is because it isn’t meeting their expectations. Unfortunately, this is usually because they had unrealistic expectations going in to it. The American Council on Exercise recommends using the SMART model for setting appropriate goals that will keep you motivated.
S – Specific. Your goal should clearly state exactly what you want to accomplish. Do not leave any room for interperation or ambiguity. For example, don’t say “I want to lose weight.” Instead, make your goal “I want to lose 5 pounds.”
M– Measureable. If you don’t know for sure, in real terms, that you’re accomplishing something than you could lose interest. By having a goal that can be plainly measured, like weight, mile time or strength on a specific lift, you can easily see how you’re improving.
A– Attainable. If the goal is unrealistic and unattainable, it will do more harm than good. Your goal has to be just hard enough to challange you, but still within your grasp.
R– Relevant. Keep your goal targeted on an activity that you’re already interested in and capable of participating in.
T– Timebound. Set a deadline to keep you focused.
Keep It Fun, Fresh and Rewarding
No matter how much you might love a specific workout, it will eventually get old. Try new workouts, go running in new routes or workout with new people. You might also find it worthwhile to give yourself rewards. When you reach a certain milestone or accomplish a goal, the Mayo Clinic recommends stopping to savor the moment. Or, if that type of “inner reward” isn’t your thing, go for an external one instead. Just be careful not to use food as a reward since this tends to eat to counterproductive overeating.