It’s no secret; at times we all struggle with keeping our motivation to work out. The key to workout success comes with making habits you’ll be able to keep up, figuring out a plan that’s right for you. You don’t need to worry about what anyone else is doing; the path to physical fitness is completely individualized, so it really all comes down to figuring out the best steps for you. Don’t go overboard to quickly; build a strong foundation and you’ll have fitness habits that can last a lifetime. Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to staying motivated for the gym.
So you’ve been making progress with your fitness, great! It’s an awesome feeling—seeing progress as it happens right in front of you! Don’t stop now! It’s important to not get complacent too quickly, keep setting goals, but make sure they’re attainable. Setting unrealistic goals is one of the quickest ways to get discouraged. So instead of swearing you’ll burn 20lbs in the next four weeks, just make your priority getting to the gym a few times a week, and focus on having a good workout while you’re there. Things will be much less maddening that way, and soon enough you’ll have a fitness habit that you can depend on moving forward.
This goes hand in hand with setting attainable goals. We’ve all seen the superfreaks in the gym doing exercises that we couldn’t fathom doing. We all know that there are people that work out each and every day. But in a lot of these cases, the behavior isn’t healthy, and emulating it as a workout novice is a sure way to fail. So stop worrying about what the others around you are doing and come up with a program that works for you. It might only be three days a week, with some cardio and light lifting. That’s ok. It’s better to progress slowly and safely than to jump in headfirst. The more realistic your workout regimen, and the better it works for you, the more likely you are to stick with it.
The more repetitive your relationship with fitness becomes, the better chance you have of keeping it going. Make your gym sessions an ironclad part of your day, just like any other work or personal related event that’s on your calendar. The less you feel like the gym is something you can miss, the more likely you are to stick with your preplanned routine. Obviously there are going to be exceptions, we can’t all make it everday, but the more serious you are with your commitment to exercising, the easier it’s going to be to become another effortless part of your day. Don’t flake out unless you really have to. The longer you stick with it, the easier it gets.
If you’re feeling bored in the gym or uninspired to get going, try working out with a friend. Not only will you instantly have a new source of entertainment, but the camaraderie of working out with a friend is hard to beat. The next time you’re struggling with that last half mile, or that final drop-set that’s been kicking your butt, your friend will be there to help push you through to the finish line! Plus, group fitness with friends is always more fun. When you’re working with someone to accomplish mutual goals, the reward is much greater.
We’ve all had the feeling before, sometimes you just don’t want to go workout. But unless you have a really good reason (sick, inadequate night’s sleep, etc), tough it out! The more you slack off and skip, the easier it will be to justify in the future. Stick with your workouts that you’ve planned. If you’re having a hard time keeping up, your routine might be too extreme. Factor in some rest days, but then keep at it! The only way you’ll get better is to actually go! Eventually, it won’t feel like you’re forcing yourself to go, it will just be another thing you want to do.
One of the easiest ways to get discouraged is to take on an overambitious workout plan. Not everyone can work out six days a week (in fact, for most folks, that’s not even healthy), so don’t think that’s what you need to do right off the bat. Biting off more than you can chew will most likely result in a loss of motivation and increase your chance of injury. Remember, slow and steady wins the fitness race. Work at a reasonable pace and build off the progress you make. Then and only then will you find stability in your routine and be able to make it a regular part of your life.
Not everyone can be an all-star yogi or spin class warrior, and that’s ok. If your friends are pushing you to make a certain kind of exercise exclusively your own and it doesn’t feel right, don’t force it! Different things are going to appeal to different people, and not everyone has to like the same thing. So what if your friend can do crazy one-handed handstands? If the open road is what calls to you, stick with it! We don’t all have to do the same thing; so don’t sacrifice your fitness routine for the sake of pleasing others.
The most detrimental thing you can do in respect to your fitness is doubt yourself. Sometimes the path to physical fitness (and the body we want) can feel like a never-ending uphill battle. That’s why it’s important to appreciate the small victories. You could squat an extra five pounds this week? Great, time to celebrate! You shaved ten seconds off your mile time? Fantastic, you’re killing it! Embrace the journey to fitness as a slow one, with many milestones and rewards ahead of you. Once you accept this, things start to get easier. Each day at the gym is just another step. If you miss a workout, that’s ok, just look at the big picture. Don’t stress about getting fit, just exercise and keep your eyes on the prize. If you stick with it, you’re going to get there eventually.
If this list has made anything clear, it should be to take things at your own pace. Make fitness habits that work for you. Don’t rush into anything; the path to physical fitness is all about gradual increases. Don’t feel pressure to perform at anyone else’s pace, do what feels right for you, and only you. Try to make your gym time a consistent part of your life and set realistic goals, you’ll be well on your way to finding fitness success and staying motivated to keep it up. Good luck!
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