With lockdown restrictions easing, how often do you still find yourself with every excuse not to exercise?
Oftentimes, the hardest part about exercising is staying consistent and prioritising our workouts, let alone restart after a break/hiatus.
It’s so easy to find excuses to skip today’s session, or for things to come up that prevent us from getting into the gym.
I know I still battle with making the time to do my sessions and to prioritise my exercise time over an extra hour of work. However, we all know we should be exercising more than we currently are and that doing the time at the gym will actually help with all the other daily challenges.
The thing with motivation though, is that if you wait for it to lift, it never will. Taking action will bring results, and results will motivate more action.
So, here are 3 ways to help you take action to increase your ongoing motivation to exercise and experience all the benefits that come with this habit.
1. Shrink the change
Essentially, this is the idea of breaking a big change down into smaller chunks. Rather than trying to go all-out in getting back into your routine, try breaking it down into manageable chunks that you can build upon week on week.
In this way, your new habits become a whole lot more manageable, which makes it much more likely we will stick with them and see meaningful change in our lives.
This has 3 important effects:
The resistance to actually getting started is reduced.
We will experience small wins along the way.
We will build momentum.
For example, if you’re wanting to get back into exercising after a long break or are looking to start a new exercise regime, you could “shrink the change” into the following steps:
Find a new exercise program/personal trainer/gym to join
Decide how often you like to go all things being aligned
Commit to just 20/30/60 minutes (whatever seems too easy for you) each day/2 times a week/each week to start
This is where you will shrink the change.
Committing to just 20 minutes each time makes the task seem a whole lot less daunting, which makes it way more likely you will follow through.
Have a look at any current habits you are struggling with, and see if you can break them down into smaller habits.
2. Start tracking and reflecting
It is important to track your exercise, especially if you often find yourself lacking motivation.
You could track how many days you went to the gym or out for a run, how much you lifted, or how many laps you did. Find a metric that is relevant to your goals and start tracking it.
Tracking has so many benefits — you will be able to see where you are making progress and where you’re not, but in this context, it is especially important for building consistency and momentum. Reflecting on forward progress is a great weapon against procrastination.
When you track the days you went to the gym, you start to build a streak. This simple action is surprisingly motivating because you want to be able to put a tick in the box next to today. Also, you will quickly see where you are slacking.
As an example, you could start tracking the days you floss. You might think you floss regularly, but I bet you will soon see that it’s a lot less frequent than you think. Without tracking, we’re sometimes unaware of where we’re letting ourselves slide, and where we need to focus our attention.
This is where reflection comes in.
Like anything we do, we need to regularly reflect on how our habits are going; reflection is the key to improving and experiencing success.
Reflection will enable us to see these areas of improvement and to take action before our habits slide too much.
3. Articulate your Why
Without a solid "why", achieving goals can become very challenging.
You have to know why you’re doing it. Why are you wanting to exercise daily? Why do you want to train for that marathon? Why are you starting a yoga practice?
If you can articulate the reason why, it’ll be so much easier when things start getting hard. When the alarm goes off and the last thing you can imagine doing is getting out of bed. When you’re at a party with your friends and they’re all eating pizza and drinking beer.
You have to be able to remind yourself of the purpose of all this and for it to be so compelling that there’s no doubt in your mind you’re not going to cave.
Start by tapping into these simple strategies and watch the results come in - that's when you'll truly get motivated.