When committing to the health and fitness lifestyle for the long term, there are a few things to remember. As much as we strive towards our goals, we can’t always control every aspect of the journey it takes to get there. Committing to a fitness-fueled, goal-orientated lifestyle can mentally take it’s toll and unfortunately, this is often the hurdle many choose not to face. Instead, they find themselves falling back into old habits, undoing hard-earned progress, and self-hating. If you are feeling a little unmotivated or know somebody who is, below is a few simple suggestions I use with myself and my clients to make sure negativity does not cut your fitness journey short!
1. MOTIVATION COMES IN WAVES
Just like the weather, motivation comes in seasonal waves. We would love to stay motivated all year round just as much as we would love 12 months of summer, but this is not realistic! Just as we adapt to the changes in the weather, you must learn to adapt to your own personal changes in motivation.
Some weeks you will hit your workout targets, your nutrition will be on point and you will feel absolutely amazing. Other weeks you may skip multiple workouts, give in to food cravings and overindulge, and that is OK! Do not let weeks like that drag you into a tunnel of negativity!
What to Do:
Instead remind yourself that you are human and no mental state is constant. Pick up a pen and paper and make a plan of action for the following week. Allow yourself to get excited about how amazing you will feel after another week of hitting your workout and nutrition targets. Credit yourself for being able to see past the tunnel of negativity and look forward to coming back stronger, and MORE MOTIVATED than your last motivational season!
2.ONE STEP AT A TIME
When you are feeling a little unmotivated, you don’t want to overload yourself with a massive health kick to-do-list. The more tasks you set, the less chance you have to carry out each task to 100%. The Brain can only handle one small change at a time or it begins to feel overwhelmed and under-efficient. This is one of the main reasons ‘diets’ tend to fail after a short period of adherence, you have cut out everything you love and given your brain various other new tasks to contend with at the same time! It doesn’t take long for the cravings to kick in and your workouts to become sloppy and forced. Many people make this mistake when starting out, but it is also one of the main reasons it is so hard to get remotivated after a short break!
What to Do:
Don’t overwhelm yourself and expect to fall straight back in at the deep end. Set 2 small tasks every few days and stick to them, give yourself a chance to let the healthy habits form again. Keep going like that and before you know it, you will begin to enjoy your healthy lifestyle again!
Your tasks could look something like this:
*Drink more water
*Go for a 20-minute walk
*Continue day 1 tasks
*Eat 5 portions of fruit and veg
*Continue day 3 tasks
*Cut out junk food
*Continue day 5 tasks
* Do a full body workout
3.MONITOR YOUR SLEEP
With so many important things to fit into 24 hours, many people sacrifice sleep in order to get things done. However, even for Fit Pro’s, it is hard to stay motivated if you don’t have good quality sleep. Your appetite can increase due to elevated cortisol levels leaving you hungry, grumpy and generally low in mood. Since motivation is a state of mood, we can’t expect to be fully motivated if we are not getting enough good quality sleep!
What to Do:
Quality over Quantity! Many of us get by perfectly with 6-8 hours of sleep per night. The difference is not the quantity of sleep but the quality. Here are a few simple steps to getting a good quality sleep:
*Set all devices to night-mode (or dim the brightness)- The bright lights on most devices are thought to interrupt our circadian rhythms, making it harder to sleep!
*Eat a small snack 30 minutes before bed– Going to sleep when you are hungry is not a great idea, your body will want to stay awake until the hunger subsides, a small snack will take away the hunger pangs and allow a more comfortable sleep! Casein protein is a favorite of mine as it releases proteins slowly, keeping you and your muscles fed throughout the night.
*Take a hot shower or bath 1-2 hours before bed– This has a relaxing effect on the muscles allowing for a more comfortable drift-off.
*Prepare everything you need for tomorrow- If you go to bed unprepared for work/uni in the morning, your subconscious anxiety can increase with the thought of rushed tasks in the morning. Prepare everything you need for the day ahead and yourself and your subconscious can relax!
4.FIND SOMETHING ACTIVE THAT YOU ENJOY
(Action Shot Alert? !..)
For whatever reason, you have lost the drive to get your workouts in, if you were still enjoying them your motivation would not have dipped. When training for a specific goal, workouts can become a little repetitive and at times monotonous (there are justified reasons for this, which calls for a separate blog post in itself). For obvious reasons, we do not want to be missing our structured workouts for too long but we also don’t want to be dragging ourselves to the gym for a half-baked attempt at our planned workout. What we need to do is reignite the ‘want’ to get back into the gym and get your workout in.
What to Do:
Forget your structured workout for a moment. Go and find something different to try out, it may be hiking, rock climbing, trampolining, ice-skating, rollerblading, netball or anything else that does not involve the gym! We are not aiming to replace gym-based workouts by doing this but giving you the chance to enjoy something active without the connotation of reps, sets, goals, muscle groups, cardio, weights etc…. For myself and many of my clients all it took was 1 encounter of something different to reset our motivation and start smashing our workouts again!