Starting a new and exciting prospect always brings this feeling of exhilaration and wonder. Drumming up the nerve and getting that initial high is easy, but maintaining that interest afterwards is not. Fitness is no different, and working towards a healthy and active lifestyle is no easy feat. Breaking your New Year’s resolutions is only discouraging and wanes your motivation to pursue that choice.
If you’re falling out of your current fitness plan, then perhaps re-evaluating your fitness goals will help you get back on your feet. Setting small goals (while keeping the overall big picture goal in mind) helps keeps things realistically attainable. We may become too focused on the little things and sometimes forget the what the long-term plan is. Willpower alone will not remedy the lack of motivation. Having the desire to become fit is great, but what we think in our minds, ideal as it may be, doesn’t always reflect the actual reality around us and vice versa. Sometimes we just need a little extra help in reaching our goal.
Tracking your progress over time can help paint a picture of where you are in reaching your fitness goal. There are many ways to do this ranging from simple pen and paper to using one of the many fitness apps or devices out there. By breaking down your goal into smaller steps – micro-goals if you will — you can figure out what it is you want to track. Over time, you can tweak and fine-tune your performance to reach the next level of where you want to be. Tracking comes into play by visualizing how you’ve improved. Even if you don’t meet the goal you’ve set, that doesn’t mean no progress has been made. Any effort you put in will not be lost, and tracking is a reflection of the improvements that have accumulated over time and contributed to your physical performance. If anything, you should take this as a sign that you are improving even if it may not be so immediately visible.
Looking up to other people can also motivate you to become a better performer. You don’t have to idolize superstars or celebrities; instructors, friends, random strangers, classmates, or whomever can all satisfy this purpose. Watching and being around others, especially those who are more experienced, can serve as an inspiration to be better, stimulate your mind, and challenge yourself to go beyond what you can do. The effort you put in will manifest both physically and mentally and also feed back into the tweaking your performance to meet your end goal. What is important about having other people is creating a support system that will provide guidance and insight as to how you can continue striving for excellence.
Variety is important to keep things interesting in order to prevent mental and physical stagnation. If you feel like you’re getting bored with an activity, change your routine once in a while. Introduce a new exercise, tweak your program slightly, or just briefly try something completely new just to break up the monotony. Whatever exercises you do can easily translate into other physical forms after you develop the physical capabilities. After years of martial arts training, I have started experimenting with running (for the Warrior Dash) and rowing (for Dragon Boat) and discovered that these activities come very easy to me. Understanding your body and being more aware and conscious of what it is doing will open a breadth of opportunities for you to go and test out your limits. You might even pick up something even more enjoyable and fun and meet a whole new crowd of people.
Sometimes getting fit isn’t fun, but turning fitness into a game alters the way you think and approach it. Games like Dance Central, Zumba Fitness, and Wii Fit are available to aid you in your fitness adventure. They can help you lose weight as long as you stick to it. Zombies, Run! is a mobile app that immerses the player in a zombie apocalypse in which running in the real world directs and advances the story in the game. Sometimes putting something of value on the line can also prompt motivation for fitness. Fatbet.net enables you to engage in friendly competition with your friends by having each person create a challenge and agreeing to a wager. GymPact forces you to go the gym by using behavioral economics. When you sign up, you put an amount on money along with a commitment to work out. If you fail to make your commitment, you’ll lose your money. However, when you do make your scheduled workout, you will earn a cash reward which is paid by those who didn’t go to the gym.
Once you do meet your goal, it is important to continue what you are doing. Giving up is the worst thing to do at any point; maintaining your fitness and health never ends. Exercise isn’t necessarily easy process; if it were, everyone would be fit and healthy. Rather than think about how difficult exercise is, keep in mind that what you’re doing is a positive benefit for your life. Everyone has to start somewhere, even those who are elite athletes or have gone through extreme weight loss regimens. Even if you find yourself down from time to time, don’t let that discourage you from the ultimate result. Stay focused on what you want and who you want to be. The path should never be a hopeless road.