Metabolic Weight Loss & Body Tune-UP Tips: Step #4
Step 4 of 8 in the series Metabolic Weight Loss & Body Tune-UP Tips
Accelerate Fat Loss & Get Fit for Life in 8 Easy Steps
4. Staying motivated to exercise. There’s no doubt about it. Every person who exercises regularly, whether an athlete or not, will have to cope with lack of enthusiasm at one time or another. So how can you stay motivated to workout? “Just do it” was one of the rallying slogans of the late ‘90s. But sometimes it can be tough to live up to. In fact, every person who decides to exercise will face—sooner or later—a lack of motivation, boredom or burnout with a fitness program.
Here are my 15 favorite tips to help you stay motivated and enthusiastic about your workouts, and also prevent injury. If you are in need of more personal motivation, you will find comprehensive guidance and uplifting motivation — including countless examples from my inspiring clients worldwide who overcame obstacles, reconnected with their inner passion and strength, achieved breakthroughs, and created their best lives — in my titles Walking on Air, The Joy Factor, and Renew Your Life.
- Make a commitment. To succeed in anything in life, especially in your exercise goals, you must be committed. I often hear people tell me they’re really committed to their exercise program but they can’t exercise for a week or two because they’re too busy. When you’re committed to something, you don’t let your excuses get in the way. And if you are ready for commitment, you will be committed; you’ll immediately arrange your personal circumstances so that your lifestyle totally supports your commitment. You will do the things you need to do to order your life, eliminate non-essentials, and focus on what is important. If you have a difficult time sticking with your exercise program, keep in mind that you should be working out because you want to do it for you and not because you are doing it to please someone else. Others can provide some incentive, but the prime reason must come from your own desire. Practice being disciplined. As I write in my book The Joy Factor, "I see discipline as the ability to carry out a resolution long after the mood has left you."
- Be consistent. Repetition is the key to mastery—lack of it is the road to failure. Behavioral scientists have discovered that it takes at least 21 days for your mind and body to create a new habit and to stop resisting. Until then, you can expect to have to listen to that incessant voice in the back of your mind. I call that voice Babbler, because it never shuts up. You can count on Babbler to keep up a running dialogue on how nice it would be to sleep in, how sore your calf muscles are, or how heavy the weights feel. Don’t pay any attention. Instead, as detailed in Walking on Air, when the commentary begins, simply acknowledge Babbler’s point of view and remind yourself that for 21 consecutive days you are going to stick to your new exercise program. By the end of the 21-day period, chances are you’ll no longer have any resistance to exercising. Ben Franklin once said that whatever you do for 21 days will make or break a habit.
- Clearly define your fitness goals. Make both short and long term goals. Short-term goals are important because with them you become immediately involved with the life process. Since short-term goals are usually fairly easy to reach, you receive early reinforcement of your intentions. You are rewarded for positive action and this creates a positive mental attitude, builds confidence, and tends to neutralize failure patterns imprinted in the subconscious. Yes, goals provide a path for specific direction and also let you know how you are doing. What are your goals for exercising and being fit? To lose weight and reshape your body? To increase your energy and boost your self-esteem? Perhaps you want to be able to run in a 10K race or increase your strength and definition? Whatever is important to you, write it down on paper. Just because goals are on paper doesn’t mean they can’t be changed at some point.
- Reaffirm your fitness goals daily. After you’ve written your fitness goals, post them where you can see them every day. Perhaps on the refrigerator door or on the bathroom mirror. As you achieve your goals, set new ones. In addition to a concise list of goals, make another list of your plan for achieving your goals. Let’s say that you’ve been jogging for six months and you’re now up to four miles four times a week. One of your goals is to run a 10K race in a month, a marathon a year from now and to increase your strength and lose inches by lifting weights. You’d then map out a jogging program that gradually increases your mileage weekly in addition to working on a specific weight training program to suit your needs. This is the procedure I followed when training to run 100 miles from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles and training for seven marathons and several triathlons as well as when I decide to lose a few pounds or want to increase strength or flexibility.
- Keep track of your daily progress. In one of the rooms of my home, I’ve hung on the wall a large year-at-a-glance calendar on which I can write my workouts everyday. For me, this is highly motivating to see all that I’ve accomplished over the past weeks and months of training. On those days when I lack motivation to workout, as communicated in Renew Your Life, I look at the calendar and realize I don’t want to ruin my track record with too many non-workout days. You may also want to consider keeping a fitness diary.
- Share your fitness goals with a friend. I have always found it beneficial to confide in a friend(s) and tell them my goals. Oftentimes it’s easy to let yourself down and break commitments but it’s harder to get off the course when a caring, supportive friend is checking up to see how you’re progressing. But make sure it’s a trusted friend with whom you feel comfortable and not someone who will bring up your “slip backs” (and you will have some) at the next office party.
- Be realistic. Don’t set yourself up to fail. If you’ve just started a walking program and are now up to two miles nonstop, don’t make one of your goals to run a marathon at the end of the month. I’m not suggesting that it’s impossible. I believe in miracles, but it would definitely take a miracle for a typical person to get in shape for a marathon that quickly and part of staying motivated to exercise is staying injury-free. Setting your goals will help you to be realistic. Make three lists of goals: one to cover the next month (these can be changed daily or weekly), one for the next six months (these might change monthly), and one to cover the entire year (these might change quarterly).
- Exercise with a friend. It can sometimes be easier when you have a friend to give you support. As mentioned above, it’s harder to let a friend down when you’ve agreed to workout together. I enjoy training alone at times, but many times I’m grateful to friends for getting me through workouts I probably would have skipped if I were working out alone. Working out with a friend helps to prevent boredom. My closest friendships throughout my life, as noted in the Create Thriving Relationships chapter of The Joy Factor, have been with those friends with whom I workout on a regular basis.
- Listen to music while exercising. Music can work wonders, either through a radio, headphones, or just singing, if the activity is adaptable to it. I have a home gym and find that my favorite music keeps me motivated especially when lifting weights or using the treadmill or stair climber.
- Keep variety in your workouts. To keep exercise interesting--and lower the likelihood of injury--alternate high-impact activities like step aerobics, spinning, jogging, or hiking steep hills with low-impact ones such as swimming or walking. Vary your activities, known as cross-training, so that you won’t get bored and will ensure a more balanced body fitness. And make sure you select accessible activities. Go to a nearby aerobics class or health club, swim in your pool or local university or community pool. Have a few pieces of equipment in your home for those days you can’t get away to workout.
- Visualize your fitness goals. Visualizing your fitness goals as already accomplished will increase your motivation, keep you on course and hasten your success. It has been discovered that the subconscious part of the brain cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality, between the visualization and the actual event taking place. In doing this on a regular basis, as conveyed in all three titles above, you will discover that your actions and behavior regarding the achievement of your goal seem to come into alignment more easily and readily, without as much resistance, and you continue in the right direction sometimes achieving goals in unexpected time. I love what Henry David Thoreau once said. “If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams and endeavor to live the life you have imagined, you will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
- Use affirmations to support your goals. This tool greatly enhances motivation. Affirmations can be mental, verbal, written or used on a iPod or other listening devise. An affirmation is the result of a purposeful effort to synchronize thought, speech and feeling in order to produce definite effects. An affirmation, used properly, is not a drill used to condition the mind; it is a technique which gives us conscious control over thought and attitude. Select a phrase which embodies your idea; again, working from the end of the idealized condition. When you synchronize your thoughts, words and feelings, you become magnetized and your power of concentration is focused on specific targets, or goals. You will find a variety of affirmations that I have both written and spoken — in Renew Your Life.
- Stay positive and present. When using affirmations, it’s important to remember the following: Always keep the affirmation in the present tense, as though this were your present reality. Keep the affirmation positive. For instance, you might use a phrase like, “I am healthy, fit, and filled with energy and enthusiasm for life. My body is strong, trim, and beautifully shaped. I choose only those foods which support my health and continual rejuvenation. I exercise on a regular basis and love how good I look and feel.” In keeping positive and present, for example, instead of saying, “I will never eat junk food again and am not fat,” say “I select healthy foods that support my trim, fit body.” And finally, use your affirmations with feeling. Experience the joy, enthusiasm, and positive feeling you would really have if this affirmation were your current reality. Practice using your affirmations daily, especially right before you go to sleep at night and upon awakening in the morning.
- Rest at least one day per week. After your initial 21-day period of daily exercise to establish a new habit, take at least one day a week off for rest each week. Maybe on those rest days you will stretch, do some yoga, or easy walking. Taking a day off allows the body to repair the muscles and build up more energy. This also helps to avoid injury from overuse. Taking some time off is also great for keeping your motivation up. Don’t feel guilty. Weekly respites from exercise are good for your body.
- Reward yourself. You’ve worked out hard, you’ve been consistent, you’re seeing positive changes in your body—go ahead and reward yourself. Enjoy a massage, buy yourself a new workout suit or shoes, or take a few hours off just for yourself to be pampered or simply spend time alone out in nature. (For innumerable suggestions on how to take loving care of your body, mind, and spirit, please refer to The Joy Factor, Walking on Air, Recipes for Health Bliss, and Renew Your Life.) Treat yourself to something special because you deserve it! Rewards increase motivation and create positive, happy associations about your exercise program.
No one is going to be highly motivated to workout 100% of the time, but if you follow the guidelines suggested here, you will keep your exercise burnout or boredom to a minimum. But for those of you who have an exercise program and are rarely motivated or lack consistency, think about the following: Is it lack of variety? An emotional challenge? What are you afraid of if you achieve your fitness goals? Are you pushing too hard? Do you have clear cut short-term and long-term fitness goals? Have you decided that getting in better shape is not a top priority for you? Keep in mind that you should be working out because you want to do it for you and not because you are doing it to please someone else. Renew Your Life will be the catalyst to move you through all of your blockages and carry you to the top of the mountain of fitness, health, and life achievement.
Today, commit to your exercise program. Accept and expect the best for yourself and advance confidently in the direction of your goals and dreams.
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