I used to love January 1. It was the best feeling day of the year. Armed with my list of New Year’s goals, transformation was on the way and I loved that feeling.
Of course, you know how this ends. That amazing bucket of motivation would slowly empty over the next couple weeks. By mid-January, I felt zero motivation and shame for throwing all those goals in the trash.
I’m human…that’s what happened.
Exercise is hard. Staying motivated to exercise is even harder. This week, I’m going to offer the key to staying motivated and two simple steps to make that happen. But, first let’s look at the most common motivation stealers.
IT’S NOT FUN
Exercise is hard. It’s also not fun. If your day is filled with things you don’t like doing, it takes almost super human motivation to add one more thing you don’t like doing.
YOU DON’T FEEL GOOD
It’s tough to feel motivated when you’re tired, sick, or in pain. And, sometimes that’s a good thing. There are legitimate times when we need to NOT exercise.
If your body is not feeling up to exercise, please consult a doctor. If you’re in pain, same thing. You don’t want to make something worse.
Bottom line…it’s hard to exercise when you’re physically struggling.
Most of us exercise for a reason and if we don’t see any results it’s natural to wonder if we’re wasting our time.
Fitness is a long game. If you’re pursuing fitness activities correctly and consistently, results will eventually happen. Let’s also be clear…some of these results aren’t always obvious…like a lowered risk for things like heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
TOO MUCH HASSLE
You not only need motivation to exercise…you also need motivation to do everything necessary before you exercise. If you exercise at a gym, you have to get your workout clothes together, drive to the gym, change, shower when you’re done, and drive home. The stuff you need to do so you can exercise probably takes more time than the workout itself.
If it feels like a hassle even getting to the starting line of exercise, that can be a real motivation killer.
STRESS AND DEPRESSION
Stress and depression can drain you of motivation. If you think you may be depressed, please talk with someone. Don’t try and power through this alone. The good news is walking can actually help with depression and stress. Instead of thinking about it as exercise, think of it as good medicine and take a short walk.
THE KEY TO MOTIVATION
I’m going to keep this simple. The key to staying motivated is to make it about your commitment and not your feelings. The motivation for all those New Year’s goals was my feelings. Those feelings were super strong for a few days, but it didn’t take long for those things that typically drain my motivation to do just that. Once the feelings were gone so was my motivation.
After I anchored my fitness motivation to commitment those feelings didn’t matter. I made fitness a priority and found time on my schedule. I stopped focusing on short term results knowing that I was really working towards long term health. I made walking my primary fitness activity removing much of the pre-exercise hassle. And, fitness movement goes a long way to lowering stress.
So, how do you transition your motivation from emotions to commitment. Try these two things.
FIND YOUR WHY
Why do I want to exercise? Ask yourself that question. Then ask it again. In fact ask yourself several times to keep digging deeper to find out why you truly want to exercise.
Here’s how that looks for me:
Why do I exercise? Because I want to age well.
Why do I want to age well? Because I don’t want to spend my older years unhealthy and unable to do the things I enjoy doing
Why do I want to keep doing those things? Because they bring pleasure and a sense of purpose.
Why does purpose matter? Because that’s what I was created for.
Understanding this deepest “why” helps me stay motivated even when I don’t “feel” like exercise. What’s your deepest “why”? Take a moment and do some digging.
The greatest motivator is momentum. When you have fitness momentum it’s actually harder to not exercise than it is to exercise. But, momentum takes time to build.
It’s important to first create a fitness habit. Start small and think long. Can you commit to a ten minute walk every day at the same time? It takes, on average, 66 days to build a habit. Some people can do it in less time, but others need as much as 254 days to consistently do something before it becomes a habit.
If you stick with it, fitness habits eventually become fitness momentum. As you see progress and feel better that momentum becomes even stronger. When you reach this stage of fitness, finding motivation is no longer an issue.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
Using a Fitbit to track your steps can help you create a fitness habit and work towards fitness momentum. The 30 Day Fitness Challenge will help you set a small goal to start and build from there. This free guide also includes a contract you can sign. It might sound cheesy, but making a contract with yourself can be a powerful way to keep going on days when you don’t feel like it.
If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the Fitbit Inspire 2! The Inspire 2 has double the battery life, and also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress. This is also the Fitbit I use to track my steps every day!
(By the way…if you use the link above to buy a Fitbit Inspire 2 this blog will receive a small commission. It won’t add anything to what you pay, but letting you know is the right thing to do)
I also recommend subscribing to this blog for weekly encouragement and motivation. Establishing and maintaining a fitness habit is not easy. Receiving a regular article to help you keep moving forward might be the difference maker you need. To subscribe simply click FOLLOW (to the right on your desktop…at the bottom on your phone) and you’ll get a link sent to you as soon as each new article is posted.
I need this level of motivation to do strength training. Why do I do strength training? So I won’t injure myself doing the things that I enjoy. Therefore I can continue to do things that make me happy, hopefully for a long long time.
[…] Last week, I wrote about rediscovering your exercise motivation. Exercise is hard. Getting started is hard. Keeping it going is even harder. But, the result of sticking with it is exercise momentum. I wrote last week, that when you have that momentum, it’s actually harder to stop than it is to get started. That’s a really great thing. […]