Updated: Mar 14
Motivation is the reason for people's actions, willingness and goals. Motivation is derived from the word motive, which is defined as a need that requires satisfaction.
Motivation is something that we all want more of. Motivation to eat healthily and motivation to workout are probably what most of us strive for. But what goes wrong? We do so well for a few weeks and then we stop. Why is this and how can we keep motivation going, especially on days when we really struggle to find the get up and go?
Over the years I have gone through phases of going to the gym to exercise, working out from home, creating a routine around yoga, HIIT training and strength training and switching up my diet. The things that have stayed consistent is my drive to move and nourish my body.
Let's look at ways we can build motivation:
When starting out, you need to set goals, whether it be to walk a certain amount of miles per week, lift a certain weight or even just exercise for x days a week. Without a goal we have no direction, no path to follow and it can be easy to give up before we begin as we don’t know what we want to achieve. Make goals small and manageable and make sure that you set them for you and not others. Remember that changes don’t happen overnight so try and set weekly, monthly and even yearly goals. This way you are always striving for the next thing. If we just do two weeks worth of goal setting, at the end of those two weeks you’ll be left wondering what next.
Make it Fun
The last thing you are going to want to do is something that you find boring. You aren’t going to be inclined to wake up early for a run if you hate running. I tried it and trust me you will not feel better for it! Try YouTube videos, go to group classes, try dance workouts, anything you find fun! Some days you may fancy something to make you feel strong, sometimes you might need cheering up so try a dance workout (these are always fun as I am so uncoordinated I end up laughing at myself!) some days you might want to do yoga and stretch out your body. Our energy levels are always changing so what you found fun last week, might be your idea of hell the next.
Re-energise your Mind
When we start out it’s easier to keep motivated, it’s new and exciting, then after a few weeks we can find ourselves losing that motivation, the excitement of new possibiles starts to fade and you begin to doubt yourself and wonder if it is worth sticking with. Don’t give up, try revisiting your goals, think about if you feel better now than you did at the start, do you have more energy, are you sleeping better, is your digestion better? There are so many small changes that are not visible when you look in the mirror. Before you give up, really ask yourself if you are feeling better within yourself, are you happier, are you less stressed or anxious? Chances are, you probably do. Read this past blog on the benefits of exercise for some inspiration.
Make it a Habit
The more often we do something, the more it becomes a habit, if we set aside half an hour 3 times a week to workout, after a few weeks it will start to become part of your routine. Repetition is key; think about brushing your teeth, you just do it without thinking about it. The more you workout, the easier it becomes to do without thinking about. The easiest way to do this is to add exercise into your routine in manageable chunks, for example, for two weeks you could simply add a walk in during your lunch break, then we can look to increase that to adding in two workouts a week, then when that becomes a habit look to add in more until you are happy that you are working towards your goals in an achievable way.
It also Takes Discipline
You cannot solely rely on motivation. Over time your motivation will decline, as mentioned above. But what can we do to keep moving forwards and hitting our goals? Discipline, discipline is what keeps us going and is what gets us real results. You need to be disciplined enough to workout and eat well, especially on those days that you do not want to. Unfortunately you cannot start and stop on your health journey as and when you feel ‘motivated’, you need to be dedicated and consistent. Discipline takes a while to learn, it needs dedication, patience and consistency. Of course you will encounter setbacks, injury, illness and holidays. It’s normal, just make sure that you are disciplined enough to start again once you are feeling better.
Since biking to work every day (we only have one car and Matt needs it to get to and from work) I have stopped all other forms of exercise except walking at lunch. This isn't because I have lost motivation or discipline, it’s because I needed to allow my body time to adjust to biking for 40 minutes each day. I knew if I kept up my strength training it would cause fatigue and muscle soreness. Over the next few weeks I am going to re-incorporate yoga and strength training and see how my body feels. If it feels like too much I will assess and pull back. While exercise has it’s benefits, too much can have negative results on your body and hormones. Make sure that whatever your form of exercise is, that you listen to your body and adjust your workouts accordingly. If you are new to exercise, take it slowly, build up your time, resistance and frequency.