By Finn Christo, Qualified Personal Trainer And Ted Talk Speaker
So maybe you've already got that fitness motivation. Great. But we've been here before. A week, maybe two weeks of awesomeness before old habits start to creep in. So what can you do this time round to make sure you stay motivated and committed?
Maybe it was a meticulously planned summer shred diet that lasted until lunchtime or a lean bulk that quickly turned dirty. Don’t worry, we've got some sneaky tips and hacks to help you move past ‘motivated’ into the magical world of ‘dedicated’.
1. Meal prep for the morning
You've had a bad day, you're tired and someone at the gym was curling in the squat rack… your squat rack. Before you let yourself collapse onto the sofa with the TV remote/jumbo-sized Pringles can, STOP.
For the ultimate gym motivation, prep your food and your kit for tomorrow. Don't sit down, don't get changed, do not pass go. Break whatever 'honey-I’m-home routine' you have, until tomorrow's food, supplements and kit are prepped, boxed and neatly stacked ready for you to just pick up and go.
2. Don’t be afraid of imagery
You may have a picture of a shirtless Jake Gyllenhaal taped to your bathroom mirror for... reasons. You might have also just seen Southpaw and decided you need to get super-shredded.
Whatever your workout inspiration, we’re visual creatures, so use visual prompts to your advantage. Use that image for motivation to get out of bed when your alarm goes off, put it on your fridge door, or gaze at it longingly before legs day.
3. Sort out your playlist
Unless the radio or whatever rubbish your gym's speakers are inflicting on you gets you going, taking some time to fine-tune your playlist is going to give you an edge. Your workout playlist is the soundtrack to your workout. Ignore it at your peril.
4. Show progression
Having X amount of days behind/ahead of you can be a great kick up the butt. Six weeks until Ibiza with the lads? Count those days down. Two weeks into your new diet? Mark them down!
Seeing progression is a great way to keep up that fitness motivation and to keep you honest. Use a whiteboard in your kitchen or just a board pen and your bathroom mirror. Whatever works.
Keep it visual and specific – 5 weeks into a 16-week shred is much more tangible than a more general aim to 'eat clean until I'm sub 10% body fat'.
5. Count reps down, not up
‘One more rep’ is more likely to make you go after it than having counted 9 reps out of 10 and letting yourself off for work well done. It’s also more exciting.
6. Take photos, not measurements
Is the scale not going in the direction you want? Could be your diet isn't working, or your hydration, or because you successfully demolished an unusually large sweet potato for last night’s dinner..
Basically there can be a whole load of different reasons, depending on so many variables, as to why your scale is trying to upset you first thing in the morning. The humble comparison-selfie, however, never lies, so use this for your gym motivation and inspiration instead.
7. Slow and steady
Going full-speed at your new lifestyle/diet/training regime can make it more difficult than it needs to be. You need this to be sustainable, so that you don't just burn out after a few weeks.
Start small and work upwards instead of quitting because it’s not all going 100%. One gym session a week is better than none (same goes for leg days). Small changes add up over time — and so will your workout motivation.
8. Tackle challenges
Sarah from the marketing department had a birthday yesterday and brought in a cake and she’ll just cry if you don’t have a teeny-tiny piece. And there's free pizza in the break room. And now it's Sunday night and you’re elbow deep in a £2 chocolate gateaux. Chill. Adapt. Overcome. Recover.
Having a blip is completely normal – it doesn't mean you may as well scrap the whole thing. This is where you need to use that fitness motivation to push through and keep going. Fuel your own fitness inspiration, even if it is with the odd slice of chocolate cake.
9. Remove temptations
Your significant other comes home and is looking for the Pop Tarts, unbeknown to them, you launched them through the bathroom window last night into the neighbour’s garden.
Get rid of temptations proactively before the cravings take hold, just make sure you don't upset whoever has to live with you. Joey may not share food but you might have to.
That cycle of being motivated, then not-so-much, then restarting again is common to everyone. Everyone. It's not a personal failing, so don't take it so personally! Think of the long game and anticipate that it's not going to be smooth sailing throughout.
Don't forget, motivation and dedication are ongoing processes. The most important thing is that you keep reminding yourself of why you started, how well you're doing, and not to give up!
Take Home Message
The first step to success is getting started. So, get out there and use these tips along the way for the ultimate boost to your fitness motivation. The worst you can do is nothing at all, so start small and you'll be amazed about where you can get to in a matter of months.