Why it's important?
Establishing new habits isn’t easy. While getting started with exercise is hard, it can also be a struggle to maintain your motivation for long periods. The key to sustaining new routines is to find consistency so you keep the habit up for the long game. Here's how to stick with it.
You want to work out regularly, you’ve signed up for classes, downloaded apps, tried jogging, and invested in a smartwatch, but no matter how much you spend, or think you want to get into shape, you just can't seem to stay motivated.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Short-term motivation can be a powerful stimulus that drives us to start and follow strict fitness/diet plans. But motivation is fickle; it ebbs and flows.
In this article, we outline some of the changes you can make when you’re struggling to stay motivated.
Start small and build-up.
Get into a routine and be consistent.
Perform your activity consistently. This may be at the same time on set days or in the same situation or context i.e. before/after lunch.
Keep it simple and get going.
When you first start a fitness routine, your aim is to get to a fitness level where you no longer hate exercise.
For the first few weeks, your goal is simply to keep going. Don’t do anything too hard or too horrible. Habits form with repetition. You should expect it to take a few months before it becomes ingrained.
Turn up the fun.
Sounds obvious, but don't hate what you're doing.
Not all exercise has to be gym-based. Working out should be fun. If you enjoy dancing, do a dance class. If you like to hike, find somewhere to hike. Do something active that you also enjoy so you won’t want to stop.
The same applies to your food. Don’t force yourself to eat meals you hate. Find something new, tasty, but healthier. A healthy diet doesn’t have to be bland.
Try new food combinations, and don’t underestimate the power of onions, salsa, hot sauce, garlic and other herbs and spices. They can turn a bland meal into something fulfilling.
Try something new.
When you feel your motivation waning, shake things up. Find something else you can connect to and commit to it.
A new sport or challenge (even if it's seasonal) can be a great way to commit and find a new consistency in your routine.
As well as expending energy physically, sport is typically social and involves some sort of learning or fine-tuning of skills, so the mental benefits are also awesome.
Workout with a friend.
Good company not only makes exercise much more fun but it's also an effective way to be accountable. You’re less likely to bale on a workout if you have to let a friend down in the process.
We also tend to adopt the habits of our friends. Find and spend time with like-minded people to keep your motivation up. Plus, a little friendly competition can really help you stay motivated and push yourself harder!
Get better quality sleep.
Sleep is a vastly under-rated aspect of health and affects many areas of your life. It can even help with fat loss.
Ultimately, you need to get enough sleep. Proper rest leaves you feeling refreshed and more motivated. Allow yourself the chance to get good quality 7.5-9 hours of sleep each night.
Struggling to get quality sleep? Go to bed at the same time each night. The actual time will depend on the time you need to wake and whether you’re a natural ‘night-owl’ or not. But research shows the best time for better quality sleep would fall between 9-12 pm. For more on how sleep can help your fat loss, check out: Sleep: It may help you build muscle and burn fat!
Plan it in.
Busy schedule? Plan your workouts ahead of time. Schedule classes (online or in a studio) in advance or organise to meet a friend at a set time.
The key is to not leave the decision to workout until the last minute. If you plan to have an early morning workout, get your kit out and ready the night before. Make it easy to get started.
Turn up the tunes.
Sometimes working out with friends or in a group just isn’t possible. That's when music or a podcast can really help make your workout go by much more quickly and will help you push yourself harder.
As long as you keep exercising consistently and get into a routine you'll see improvements. Make sure you reward yourself for it.
It could be a simple pat on the back or grabbing some new workout clothes or trainers.
Treating yourself to something aligned with your new routine can help keep you on track and maintain your motivation.