Motivation is key to being able to sustain wellness and develop your fitness goals, so why is it so difficult? We all know that doing our workouts, eating healthy and reducing stress keep our health in balance, but actually saying yes to the workout, no to the extra cookie and focusing attention on our wellbeing can be really challenging. Here are a few pointers that allow us to develop good habits to assist our progress.
Make a Habit
Willpower is limited. While we are making changes, we can mentally muscle through for a limited amount of time because willpower is a limited resource. This being the case, if we are relying exclusively on willing ourselves to do what we need to do, eventually we will fail. So how do we remedy this? Make habits instead! We can find better results when we make a habit of our fitness routines. At first it is helpful for us to be fairly rigid about this. Set a workout time and do not deviate from it until it is more of a habit than not doing your workout. For example, make your workout an appointment on your calendar that you must keep. Start with a reasonable number of times per week that you can sustain and then, add more days as you feel stronger. Develop the habit by using willpower; as the habit begins to make that path in your day more likely, your willpower does not have to be tapped as much!
Rewards are important. Especially while we are working to make habits and trying to take the heavy lifting off our will power, we need to find small ways to pat ourselves on the back. Choose podcasts that you really look forward to hearing for your workout. Treat yourself to some form of self care (bubble bath, pedicure, essential oils, a great book, time with friends) as an “Atta-boy or –girl” after the gym. Try to make your rewards also healthy choices rather than a dietary indulgence that can spiral out and work against your goals.
Make it a Game
Make your workout and nutrition more likely to ensure your progress. Little mind games with ourselves help here. For example, if you choose to workout right after your workday, take a gym bag with you rather than go home to change where there may be distractions and temptations to blow off the gym. Some people sleep in their gym clothes so that they would have to go out of their way to avoid their morning workout by changing out of their gym clothes. Others stick to a strict shopping list in the grocery store, knowing that unhealthy foods only come into the house, if we put them in the basket. Set a timer at your desk to take small mental health and/or stretch breaks. Let your mind get on board with small tricks to help our habit making.
Ask for Support
Have an accountability buddy. Someone who loves you and can cheer your successes is a really great resource. Ask your person for what you need from them and limit what you do not need from them. Good boundaries make good support. (Even the best-intentioned criticism can catch us at a very vulnerable time and make a dent in our mental state.) We want a cheerleader and supporter without judgment which we tend to do to ourselves in excess anyway! Then, consider being someone else’s accountability buddy to pay it forward.
Find some exercise that you enjoy, especially at the beginning. There is no good way to motivate yourself into doing something that you don’t like. I love to hike outdoors and make it a priority. Find instructors that you connect with, find a style of movement that suits your body. When you need to you can branch out, but start with something that you already enjoy. Hike, walk, dance, lift weights, HIIT, martial arts, treadmill, yoga, swim, ride a bike…it is easier to start with what you already like.