Motivation isn’t exactly the easiest thing to maintain, especially if you’re doing something as challenging as working out. Making that decision to work out isn’t easy, and maintaining that decision isn’t exactly a breeze either. You’ll definitely encounter some blunders along the way, because your workout will be affected by diet or routine adjustments, and events at home, at school, at work, or within your social circle.
It’s inevitable to have low-energy days, “cheat” days, and rest days to manage injuries and sore muscles. Your body has limitations, which can make working out frustrating especially if you don’t meet your fitness goals in your own schedule. These factors can vastly demotivate you, which may even lead you to quit altogether. However, there are power tips on staying motivated to reach your fitness goals.
Fitness Goals: The Numbers So Far
It does help to get an insight into the importance of fitness first. A lot of countries in the world do have populations that don’t get enough exercise, which in itself can be alarming given the slew of health risks that can be acquired in the process. For instance, 27.5% of Americans are considered physically inactive, and over 90% of high-school students in the country do not get enough physical activity to stay healthy and fit. In fact, 30.4% of adults in the country aged 20 and above are considered obese.
- Not maintaining a healthy physique can lead to serious health conditions. Obese and overweight individuals can find themselves more prone to diseases and health problems, such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, gout, sleep apnea, and some cancers, among others.
- However, this doesn’t mean recovery from any of these problems is impossible. For instance, running, jogging, and walking are some of the most popular methods of losing weight. Wearable technology, bodyweight training, and high-intensity interval training are the popular trends in fitness nowadays. People have a ton of options to consider when it comes to their workout goals.
- However, more than 50% of people that start a fitness program are likely to drop out in the first six months alone. Why, though? Perhaps a lot of it has to do with the fact that motivation isn’t exactly the easiest thing to achieve and maintain for prolonged periods of time.
Motivation: How Does It Work?
It may help to get to know more about motivation before one applies it into working out. Motivation is quite an interesting subject because it’s a universal thing that could be applied anywhere instead of just a single area. In its essence, a motive is an impulse that causes a person to act. As such, motivation is the term used to indicate the internal process that makes a person want to use a motive towards achieving a goal. Like intelligence, motivation can’t really be “observed.” It can be noted depending on the behavior of a person. Many theories exist as to why people are motivated, including drive reduction and the hierarchy of needs.
- Drive reduction theory suggests that motivation causes people to act in order to maintain the body’s homeostasis, or a state of balance or equilibrium. When the body has physical and biological needs, such as the need for energy and hydration, it enters into a state of tension, called drive. Hunger and thirst are examples of drives. In order to reduce this tension, the body finds ways to fulfill its needs. Thus, we feed ourselves when we are hungry and we drink when we are thirsty. The proponents of this theory suggest that a person’s motivation is a result of his physical and biological needs.
- Hierarchy of needs theory suggests that people follow a certain “hierarchy” of needs to keep them motivated. The hierarchy is as follows, from the bottom to the top: physiological needs (food, water, sleep, clothing, shelter, and breathing), safety needs (personal and financial security, health, well-being, etc.), social belonging (friendships, intimacy, and family), self-esteem (respecting oneself), and self-actualization (or realizing one’s potential). The proponent of this theory suggests that a person’s motivation is a result of his attempts to fulfill these five basic needs.
There also exist two kinds of motivation, namely, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is the kind of motivation that drives people to do activities because of the activity itself. For instance, people are driven to work out because they love the feeling of exercising. Meanwhile, extrinsic motivation drives individuals to act because of external rewards, such as working out to be able to wear a particular item of clothing.
This means motivation is something that one possesses across all situations. You can be motivated to improve a talent or to pursue an interest or a hobby. Hence, motivation can also be used to pursue your fitness goals. In combination with the right mix of effort and good planning, motivation may help you pull off your workout routine consistently.
Motivation Takes Work: Power Tips for Your Fitness Goals
To help you obtain your greatest fitness achievement, read on the following power tips to stay motivated:
- Determine your goals and objectives first: Having a workout routine and a goal to reach a certain number on the scale can be enough motivation for you. However, if you want to take your workout to the next level, it helps if you are a bit more precise with your plans. Try to make your goals SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, and time bound. This means instead of just “I want to get fit,” you can frame your objective into “I want to lose 10 pounds in three (3) weeks by running on the treadmill for 30 minutes three times a week and doing 30 mins of full-body workout three times a week.” The aforementioned method of setting goals and objectives allows you to take specific calculated actions in order to see results. This makes motivating yourself easier, given you have a specific goal to work towards.
- Assess what resources you have and what you need to acquire: A lot of people get demotivated easily when they realize they have to acquire materials they don’t have before proceeding with a project. If you want to pursue getting fit, a good motivational boost is to make sure you also plan for the materials you need for your fitness goals. Plan what kind of equipment you might need, what diet you’re going to follow, what food supplements you can take, what expenses you may incur, and what workout variations you want to do.
- Determine compromises you’re willing to make very early on: With the goals you’ve made, a good motivator early in your journey is to determine the compromises you’re willing to make based on your particular sets of goals. If you want to lose X pounds in Y time frame, are you going to limit yourself to a particular workout routine? Or will you allow yourself to try out other options, such as sports or other kinds of physical activity? Knowing what you’re willing to explore allows you to be flexible and discover ways you can have more fun depending on what for you is a fitness achievement.
- Invite other people to join you and your workout sessions: If you want to have an extra layer of fun while pursuing your workout goals, you might want to involve other people in your activities. Ask family members and friends if they’re interested to work out as well. You can exercise together and hang out after. You can also play group sports or go hiking every weekend. Not only will you be able to get closer with friends and peers, but this is a good way of pushing yourself to work out. These people can serve as good motivators and good influencers as well, as they can give you the extra support you need to continue and persevere.
- Join enthusiasts and learn more about your programs of interest: It may not be enough to “do the workouts” yourself. Perhaps a good way of motivating yourself is to get to know the programs you’re doing. Why were they made? What iterations of the workout program exist? What do people eat while doing this? How do people feel when they do this? If you can find enthusiasts pursuing the same kinds of workouts, try to join them in order to meet new groups of people. Sometimes, it’s very motivating knowing you’re working out with a like-minded group of people willing to give professional advice on your fitness goals.
- Never hesitate to play around with your workout programs for adjustments: Even if you’ve already chosen a fitness routine to follow, don’t hesitate to switch up your routine every now and then. That’s what makes working out fun and motivational! You try or add new exercises every three (3) weeks or so or whenever you feel like you’re not making any progress with what you’re doing. A good indicator is if you’ve started “slacking off” or not doing good form while working out. A little spice to your work out might be what you need to make it all the more exciting.
- Rest when you need to: When you force yourself to work out even if you’re tired, it can be very demotivating, especially when your workout starts to feel more of a routine or an obligation than something you’re having fun doing. If you feel like your body is getting tired, or if you feel burnt out, get some rest or reevaluate your plans. You might need to adjust or spice things up depending on your goals. Also, accept the fact that your body needs to recover after an intense workout. If you ignore the signs that your body is sending to you, you may incur injury, which is the last thing that you want to happen.
- Always update your progress so you can see your growth: One of the many reasons why people get demotivated with their objectives is because they don’t see that they’re slowly working their way towards their goals. This is all the more important in terms of working out, as people’s bodies have different ways of responding to workout programs. Record your progress using apps or journals and even through pictures so you’re aware of the milestones you’re already achieving.
- Ask support from a professional to find unique ways of staying motivated: If any of the above methods aren’t working, it may also help if you seek the help of a professional, such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist. They’re not just there to help you with mental woes and concerns, but they’re also trained to help develop your well-being. If you can’t find personal ways to motivate yourself, they may have motivational methods they can personalize for your benefit.
- Always remember that your progress is always yours: This might seem a bit “automatic” or “obvious,” but it’s important to remind yourself that your progress is yours and yours alone. “Competing” with friends and working out with peers are fun, but try as much as possible not to compare yourself with others. Realizing this can be very motivating, especially if you’ve learned how to separate your own progress with the progress of others. Just knowing that you don’t have to keep up with someone who is getting results “faster” can be very freeing.
The Bottom Line: Motivation Helps You Achieve Your Goals
Motivation might seem like a trivial thing given it’s not something tangible, but it’s a huge deal when it comes to maintaining your drive to be fit. Motivation is important, as fitness goals aren’t exactly easy to achieve, especially when you can’t just work out all day every day. There are events, such as rest periods, “cheat” days, unexpected breaks, and low-energy days, that can hugely alter your determination to achieve fitness. Apply the above tips to make sure that you maintain your motivation at a steady level and consequently to get the state of fitness that you’ve been wanting for a long time.
Alex Rogers is a supplement manufacturing expert. He has been formulating, consulting, & manufacturing dietary supplements since 1998. Alex invented protein customization in 1998 & was the first company to allow consumers to create their own protein blends. He helped create the first supplement to contain natural follistatin, invented whey protein with egg lecithin, & recently imported the world’s first 100% hydrolyzed whey.