I've gotten some questions lately about motivation. Mainly, how do I stay motivated? The truth is, I don't think there's an easy answer here and I do think it takes a lot of hard work to really cultivate long-lasting motivation that you can depend on and come back to again and again (and again). I wanted to share some of my strategies for how I stay motivated not only to get my ass to the gym, but also to keep it moving once I get there!
Before the gym...
Give yourself grace. Something important to keep in mind is that if you're a new gym-goer, you might find that you're really hard-pressed to feel motivated. That's okay! For me, consistency was and always will be key. I had to get into the habit of going to the gym more days than not to really feel truly motivated to keep it going. If you feel like you're dragging yourself to the gym, remind yourself that one day when you least expect it, you won't feel that way anymore. You're making it a part of your lifestyle, and at some point it WILL feel like second nature!
Think of the big picture. When you're thinking about your next gym session and dragging your feet, remind yourself that's IT'S SO MUCH MORE THAN ONE HOUR. Every single workout you do contributes to your overall health and builds on to the next one, and the one after that, and so on, and so forth. Give your workout (and yourself!) the focus it deserves.
Have a mantra. Mine is, "I will regret skipping, but I'll never regret going." I used to repeat this to myself every single time I got dressed for the gym. These days, it's just sort of embedded in my mind so I don't have to actively think about it.
Envision how you'll feel afterward. Once in a blue moon I'll leave the gym and think, 'Ugh. That sucked.' But I never regret going. Ever. And most of the time I feel pretty damn good! The next time you leave the gym, take a few minutes to actively acknowledge all of the hard work you just did. This will help you "bottle up" those good feelings and with time they'll become more and more familiar and memorable.
What's your why? WHY are you going to the gym? Is it weight loss, stress relief, or something else? For me, it's because it makes me feel good. Before pregnancy, part of my motivation had to do with some aesthetic goals I was working towards. These days, I just want to stay strong for me and my daughter. Your "why" might fluctuate, and that's fine! But make sure you're always digging deep for it, especially on the days when it's tempting to skip the gym altogether.
At the gym...
You're halfway there! For so many of us, making it there is half the battle. If you're taking a class, you already have a clear cut beginning, middle and end ahead of you. Awesome! However, if you're on your own, maintaining motivation can be a little trickier when you're not dependent on a a teacher for cues and instructions and other gym-goers around you to keep you energized. This is why IT IS IMPERATIVE that you go to the gym with a solid plan and goal in mind, whether it's to run for a specific distance or amount of time, do a weight circuit or simply break a sweat!
Make it count. When I'm tired (which is all the time these days) I remind myself that I'm already there and I'm going to give it my all because there's no use in wasting a perfectly good outfit, moment, opportunity, etc. I know that the harder I work, the better I'll feel afterward.
Always look ahead. In between rounds, I'm always thinking about my next set. And when I'm on my last set, I'm thinking about how good it's going to be to walk out of that gym and proceed with the rest of my day. It may sound counterproductive but thinking proactively helps me stay focused and in the moment.
After the gym...
Write it down. If you already had "gym" written in your calendar/planner/agenda, circle it, highlight it or put a check mark next to it to indicate that you actually went. I also record that I worked out in my pregnancy app on my phone for two reasons: 1) it's a nice little humble brag/way to cap off my workout and 2) this way I can go back and see which days I went to the gym in case I forget.
Thank yourself. Take a minute to recognize what your body just did, and feel grateful. We all have different strengths and limitations, but one thing I'll hope you'll recognize is that you should be exercising because you LOVE your body, NOT because you hate it.
Think ahead. Crushed it? Amazing! Now, when are you going back? What will your next workout look like? I stay motivated by planning for the future.
Repeat your mantra. Again and again and again. Write it down on every surface if you must! Use these powerful words to hold yourself accountable.
Do you struggle with staying motivated? If so, I hope this helps! If not, what's your mantra?
Photo taken by DAG Photography.