Finding the motivation to be active isn’t always easy.
Ask my family, my friends and my work family whether I’m a motivated person and the answer would be a resounding yes.
Yet there’s just something about regularly getting my butt out and about that can be a challenge. It’s not that I don’t love going to the gym or being active – because I’m all about those endorphins – instead, it’s just that little voice in my mind telling me that Netflix, chips and dips are calling.
Now don’t get me wrong, the prospect of Netflix, chips and dip and a lazy afternoon is my absolute dream. Yet, I know I personally need to be active for the benefit of both my physical and mental health.
So, how do I keep motivated when the salsa just won’t stop calling?
Check out the five ways below that I find keep me motivated and help me when I’m exercising and being active…
Make being active easy
The single biggest killer of my motivation when it comes to being active is how easy it is to actually be active. If I know I have to get a bus and then when I get there, there’s only set times I can do the class, and I have to sign up beforehand and remember to bring x, y and z kit… I’m out.
So, simple things like having my gym kit ready to go so I can just grab it, making schedule changes so that I can go to the gym when it’s a bit quieter and I can use the equipment I want to, and having clear days put aside to be active all help in that internal mental battle.
I can’t convince myself that I can’t be bothered as easily when there’s one simple decision to make!
Find your jam
So the other day, I had talked myself out of going to the gym and had taken off my gym kit to settle on the sofa.
As I opened my Spotify, a notification for a new album came up and within seconds of listening to the first song, I had jumped off the sofa and got myself ready for the gym. I’m being deadly serious here, I took off PJs and swapped them for lycra, all because of how a song had made me feel.
Music is such a powerful force and energy, and whilst you might use it to keep you going in the gym, I do believe finding the right songs pre-workout can actually have a noticeable impact on our motivation to be active.
Find your jam and you’ll be legging it to the weights area in no time.
Long term motivators vs short term
I think it can be easy to forget how motivation can actually be seen at two levels.
I may be motivated in the long term to be the happy, healthy, best version of myself in the long term.
This is an absolutely solid goal and it’s taken me years to get to a motivating goal that is achievable and not rooted in damaging numbers.
Yet the reality is in the short term that the big goal of self-confidence and comfort is not always strong enough to withstand the daily battering that life throws at it.
So, I’ve worked to understand what it is that motivates me in the short term too.
For example, if I go to the gym before work, then I get to spend more time with Col in the evening. For me, spending good quality time with him can be tricky with our busy jobs and lives, so the prospect of getting up an hour earlier in order to facilitate that really motivates me.
Then, when I look back over the months of consistent activity, I feel a deeper level of motivation for the big goal, because the smaller steps I’ve made are helping me reach that bigger, more obscure goal.
Plan in advance
Similar to making activity is easy, planning in advance massively helps.
Over time I’ve identified that not knowing what to do or feeling uninspired has allowed me to make excuses for heading to the gym and getting my sweat on.
To counteract this, when I am feeling positive and motivated, I come up with as many little sessions and set ideas on my fitness apps, and then that way I’ve always got a go-to workout that I can literally click on and get going with.
When I’m really struggling, I’ll rename these workouts to the day of the week that I plan on doing them on, so the decision about what I do is already made.
If you’re looking for the best app to do this on, I’ve not managed to find anything that’s better than Strong.
I pay for the premium version which allows unlimited custom workouts but the free version has a number of suggested workouts and then a decent allowance of custom workouts that you can build yourself using their library of exercises.
Avoiding the treat/cheat cycle
Now, this isn’t a particularly easy one to talk about, and I’m sure I’ll cover off disordered eating and mindset at some point.
One of the single biggest improvements to my motivation was when I stopped looking at being active as a punishment or as a way to facilitate eating/doing something. This mindset was entirely unhealthy, and lead to a whole host of issues.
For this reason, I’ve made a real conscious effort to focus on exercise and activity as a celebration of what my body can physically and mentally do, rather than a punishment for something I ate.
Ultimately, the biggest lesson of all, but one that made the most substantial difference
So there you have it, five steps I take to keep me active and thoroughly enjoying exercise, rather than dreading it.