Maintaining a consistent exercise routine and following a healthy lifestyle can bring numerous benefits to physical and mental health; having said that, staying motivated on a fitness journey can be challenging.
It is easy to start with enthusiasm, but as time goes on, it can be challenging to maintain the same level of dedication because of sore muscles you have or maybe a loss of appreciation.
Explore the importance of staying motivated on a fitness journey, ways that help maintain our motivation, and the benefits of regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle.
Understanding these factors can help us stay committed to our fitness goals and achieve the long-term health and strength we seek.
Bringing Purpose to your intention guides you through the path, helps you make informed decisions, and performs actions aligning with goals and values.
“In 2016, American Psychological Association(APA) surveyed people on exercise motivation and adherence. Survey named “Stress in America: The State of Our Nation” aimed to understand the key factors that motivated or deter people from exercising.It showed that people who want to improve their health and wellness are more consistent in staying connected to their exercise routine than those who want just to impress others or to chase societal beauty standards.”
Knowing why you want to achieve fitness can help you stay focused and committed, despite extreme setbacks and challenges. Hunt that one particular reason and focus on it.
“Every other thing can wait, but your health.”
To get your health and fitness, set realistic goals, break them into doable steps, and strategically avoid getting a six-pack in just 2 months.
Always take baby steps to avoid any mental and physical harm you can otherwise cause.
Goals should follow the SMART approach, measurable and achievable goals help you stick to the routine and track your progress.
Plan It Out
“Planning is Key! You open any door if you have the correct KEY.”
Planning is crucial to the success of anything, whether a business deal or a motivational plan. You must create a mindful plan and put your mind and heart into it.
According to the Journal of Sports Sciences,
“planning is vital for anyone who has just started an exercise program.”
The study found that individuals with an exercise plan stick with their routines and thus experience visible fitness improvement over time.
“American Council on Exercise found that 50% of individuals who just started exercising quit it within the first 6 months, while 80% drop out within a year, due to lack of a pre-set plan.”
(Note: The percentages are based on data collected in surveys conducted in 1980 and 2000)
Apart from adherence to the routine, planning increases the efficiency of your workout; for example, if you aim to build strength, planning your routine will include exercises that target a particular muscle group. You can never get that similar effect by choosing random exercise.
Use a journal to plan and jot down the exercises you will do each day. Many digital apps can also help you make an exercise plan and make you accountable by sending notifications.
By creating a well-balanced, consistent routine, you can succeed in getting long-term results and avoid setbacks and break plateaus in your progress.
Find Your Tribe
It is nothing but human nature to produce better results if he is accountable for his actions.
If you want to have a powerful motivator, it is always advisable to find your tribe, a community of like-minded people who share similar health goals that stabilizes your routines and help you stay focused.
You get support and encouragement by hunting for groups on social media sites that work for similar motives. Peer support groups promote healthy behaviors and improve outcomes due to accountability and support.
To get it one step further, you can get customized support through a personal trainer or a coach. A personal coach tailors the workout program to meet your needs according to your health and medical history. It helps many and has shown improvement if you get spot-on instructions that help you support mentally and physically.
“It is proven that you adhere to the instructor you have paid and hired to get on the fitness track.”
Once you are into the routine of getting exercise as part of your routine, you can always stop taking the services of the coach and return to your tribe of like-minded people.
Friends and family form an emotional connection with us and can help us towards our goal of getting motivation by making the journey exciting and less lonely.
Benefits of adding variety to Exercise Routine
Adding variety to your exercise serves potential benefits for your physical and mental health. It is observed that participants who incorporate variety to work out experience improvements in strength, endurance, and flexibility compared to those who perform the same routine daily.
By mixing your workouts, you avail yourself the chance to kill the boredom, and you may hit the platea where your body has stopped reacting to the same movements and exercise routine.
We know that our bodies become accustomed to having the same routines, and it stops reacting to the same routines by creating plateaus.
Incorporating strength training, cardio, yoga, or pilates into your exercise reduces the likelihood of overusing the same muscle to create injuries.
With it, adding variety to your exercise routines can reduce stress and helps in boosting mood.
In 2017, the Journal of Sports Science published a study that mentioned that people who vary their workout were reported to have lower exertions and hence experience high enjoyment in their exercise. Hence, with various exercises, you prevent injury and improve physical health.
Positive Reinforcement to stay on track
Staying fit and motivated simultaneously can be challenging, but you can use several strategies to keep yourself on track. To stay motivated, you need to have positive reinforcement, it can involve rewarding yourself.
Positive reinforcement is a process in which you encourage a desirable behavior by introducing a positive stimulus.
You can introduce positive reinforcement by setting realistic goals, which is important in staying motivated. Aim to get specified and measurable goals.
For example, instead of only “losing weight,” you can set a goal of losing, let’s say, 5 pounds in a month or losing an inch all over. By this, you will set a target for yourself and be self-accountable.
And when you hit your targetted or aimed fitness within a month, it is time to reward yourself.
This reward can be anything from buying something for you or visiting some nice place.
You need to celebrate your success. This celebration will be a positive reinforcement for you and help you stay committed to your fitness journey.
In your fitness journey, particularly and generally in your routine life, try to be friends with someone supportive of what you do with your fitness in particular and your life decisions in general.
Not only does the company you have, affects your decisions, but the way you talk to yourself is of supreme importance, the good you think and reflect in your self-talking will eventually come to you, no matter what.
You need your own support more than anyone else, if you are there with positive reinforcements and will already presume you are at the place you want to be, it will help you a lot in this whole fitness journey.
Make a habit of ditching the phrase, “ I will never be able to do this,” with the phrase,“ I am making progress at my own pace each day, and I can achieve it.”
Mind is a big reader, it reads what you say to yourself or whatever you put in it.
Practice Self Compassion
Setbacks and challenges are part of your fitness journey, and staying motivated through these times is a real struggle to keep yourself on track. It needs ample support and compassion from yourself. Self-compassion can help you big time.
Research ( Neff & Germer) conducted on normal people in 2013 has shown that self-compassion is directly linked to psychological well-being, especially when you face setbacks.
Treat yourself with kindness, understand your mental and physical state, and nurture yourself with acceptance. Take breaks and accept your demands. It will cure your anxiety and depression, which are a threat if otherwise not treated well.
You can practice self-compassion by focusing on the progress of your journey and not on the perfection. Do not say ill of yourself if you miss a workout or indulge in an unhealthy meal. You can focus on your achievements and appreciate your efforts, which will help you keep your determination high.
Be your own friend; you don’t criticize a friend and don’t do this to you, either. Support yourself even if you make a mistake.
Take care of yourself physically, we can never estimate how treating yourself or taking physical care of yourself will boost your happy hormones and stimulate you to look even better.
Take some time to relax and recharge by investing in your physical looks. It works better than a relaxing therapy.
Fuel your body
Can you run your car with an empty fuel tank?
How hard you may try! You can only operate a vehicle with fuel.
Your body is a living vehicle that operates on fuel too. Fueling your body with the correct nutrition is essential for optimal health and energy levels.
The real deal is to fuel your body with the correct and healthy eating options.
You need to eat a well-balanced diet, and dont fall into the trap of fad diets, which are sometimes misleading and can create imbalances in your body.
Include fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, healthy fats, and dairy to benefit all food groups. Different foods provide you with the necessary vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly.
Along with a balanced diet staying hydrated makes your body dissolve those vitamins and minerals properly and nourish your body. Aim to have 8 to 10 or more glasses of water daily.
You can use a water bottle and keep it by the side of your workstation, table, or bag wherever you can grab it quickly to sip water throughout the day.
If you want to fuel your body, it is important to do it at the right time and plan ahead of your meals, so you may not end up eating a bar of chocolate for that quick energy, instead, try to prepare some meals ahead of mealtime. It will help you eat only wholesome meals and not junk when you are low on energy.
Snacks have a lot of sugar, and it is not wise to have added sugars. The amount of sugar your body needs is present in fruits, aim to have one or two to curb your sugary appetite.
There is one very good formula, if you listen to it, you will never fall trap of hunger and eat something which is not healthy for you,
“Eat when you are hungry, and stop eating when you are nearly full.”
It will prevent you from overeating and create a healthy relationship with food.
Strategies for overcoming setbacks and staying committed
Setbacks are part of the process, and they are in place to make you, even more, vigilant to tackle them. Instead of beating yourself up in case of any setback, try to view them as an opportunity to learn and grow.
A scholarly article posted in 2008 named Dweck has shown that a growth mindset focuses on learning instead of just fixed abilities. This mindset can help you overcome setbacks and stay committed to your goal.
To have a preset ability to overcome setbacks, you need to focus mainly on setting a realistic goal, For example, setting an unrealistic goal of hiking for 5 hours straight will never help you, instead, hike for 30 minutes and make it your habit to hike for 2 days a week. Sustenance comes when you give yourself some achievable targets only.
And this sustenance can come naturally if you involve some social support with it, having a friend or a group of friends make a habit of hiking 30 minutes twice a week can help you strengthen your habit of doing it, and eventually, you will not have to face challenging setbacks.
Social support is proven to link to better outcomes in weight and weight management, according to a study conducted for fitness and social response as-is (Fogelholm, 2010)
A strong support system provides encouragement, motivation, and, most importantly, the accountability you need the most.
Family or friends' support is so integral as they can help you when you fall trapped of your negative thoughts. Instead of dwelling on your negative setbacks, your support system helps you bring out the brightness in you and fix the negatives by replacing those with positive feedback.
One practical tip to overcome the setbacks is to log your workouts and your meals too, it can help you make decisions and can act as accountability, along with the accomplishments you have come so far are also so handy to you.
Appraisals, rewards, bonuses!
Who does not want it?
Rewarding yourself is a great way to stay highly motivated, no one can deny the fact of celebrating success, no matter how small or big your achievement is. Celebration acknowledges the hard work you have put in.
You can reward yourself by using a few tips.
- Be selective in the rewards, choose non-food rewards.
- Make some rewarding rewards, and choose rewards that make them meaningful and excite you.
- Use rewards as a positive association with healthy habits to make your journey enjoyable.
Scientific research has proven that rewarding yourself can reinforce positive habits and behaviors.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis found that using tangible rewards increases physical activity levels in adults.
So, why wait, go reward yourself with anything tangible but healthy.
Setbacks and obstacles
Getting setbacks and facing obstacles is inevitable as a natural process of a fitness journey.
It is the need to see the obstacles as opportunities to retune and rewind yourself by connecting and recharging again to bring the hidden strength within that time.
The most common setback is the hindrance in the form of plateaus, it can be frustrating and troublesome for some. To overcome a plateau, try changing your meals, your workout, and the intensity of your workout. You can either go slow or get high on these. Either way, your body will feel the change as getting more food than you usually eat or a different workout will give your body a chance, and the body can mold with the changes quickly and break that hard plateau.
Apart from the plateau, some injuries to your body can become a physical obstacle in your fitness journey, it is time for you to relax and give your body ample time to retrieve by not rushing to work out too soon.
Give your body the due time it needs to heal up, sometimes, the biggest constraint is time.
Some people may not get enough time to train their bodies to get fit, so you need to make healthy alternatives.
Ditch those elevators or lifts and go walk all the way up and down by using stairs, you will include a permanent source of workout in the same routine.
You can also use your break time for a quick 5-minute physical workout to make your body and mind feel better.
What better way than doing it using stretches, stretches are great in bringing the muscles stretched out and back to their state.
Science has proved that if you exercise for continuous 6months, your body tends to show physical improvements in your body and its composition.
This scientific study is supported by general healthy behaviors among individuals who have made it a habit to stay fit.
“It takes at least 66 days to form a habit (circumstances and behavior dependent).”
To make it a habit, you need to have these important tips to get consistent with your habits.
Set goals which are achievable only.
- Keep your workout interesting.
- Track your progress.
- Using these three handy tips, you can achieve your goal of staying consistent with your healthy habits.
Are you also in the habit of comparing yourself to someone else for their fitness and health? It is okay to compare but compare only to get the motivation.
“It is a fact that people who fall into the trap of comparisons develop negative self-esteem and body image and negative eating disorders as well.”
Most of the time, the comparisons can bring only grief and misleading negative self-talk to you, which is in no way healthy for your physical and mental health.
To avoid comparison, you need to focus on your own journey only.
Add these habits to stop comparing or falling into the trap of comparisons.
- Be your own ideal, bring your yesterday as a target for your today, and try to do better today.
- Give yourself the much-required pat on the back and celebrate your little milestone.
- Use social media mindfully, and unfollow the pages which make you feel bad about yourself. Follow the ones who inspire you and motivate you in your fitness journey.
- Reflect on your body's abilities and show gratitude for those little things.
“Remember, you have got only one comparison, and that is: You!”
“Fake it till you make it.”
A scientific study ( Seselja, Green $ Sjovold), conducted in 2014, proves this proverb. The study was conducted on athletes where they were prompted to visualize the success and fitness they want to achieve. It showed a bench press performance among them.
Visualizing success is a powerful tool to help you achieve fitness aims and goals. By imagining you already feel successful, the accomplished feeling boosts your morale and makes it possible to work through constraints and hurdles to reach your already visualized goals.
But before you start visualizing, follow some tips to help you correctly.
- Clear and neat goals only which are measurable and achievable.
- Use all your senses to create a feeling of seeing, touching, hearing, and even tasting your success.
- Make it a habit to visualize, don’t just visualize for a day or two, do it daily or weekly according to your schedules.
- Use only positive self-talk while visualizing.
Taking breaks periodically can help your body to rest well and improve physical fitness through a charged mind and body.
Resting and recovery promote mental health, which is far more important than a physical health. It improves your mood, prevents stress, and can help you boost self-esteem.
Exercise brings stress to the body, it is vital and beneficial to take periodic breaks, which can go a long way in bringing success to yourself.
If you have several other responsibilities like your earnings and your family, it makes it overwhelming sometimes to make everything workable, it is necessary to take a break at certain times to avoid burnout.
By taking breaks, you can also reflect on yourself and set realistic goals, which may improve staying motivated and focused.
Embrace the process
In the high-tech world, everyone wants to finish the process soon to achieve success, but very few people tend to enjoy and embrace the process. Our struggles and accomplishments rely on how quickly someone has reached his goal.
We need to change our mindset and embrace the process to enjoy each bit of it truly.
Stanford university carried out a social experiment on two groups of people. One group was asked to focus on the end result only, while the other group was asked to focus on the process or to be in the present moment.
The researcher found that the group focusing on the present moment and embracing the process got higher levels of enjoyment and engagement with the task. They were also reported to continue working on it after the experiment.
Embracing the process is a mindset to help us stay motivated throughout our fitness journey.
If you have embraced your process, being mindful of that process enlightens you to stay in the current moment. It allows us to avoid judgment or distraction if we cannot finish our fitness goal.
Mindfulness helps you by:
- Increasing awareness about your needs in the form of physical sensations like hunger, thirst, fatigue, or pain makes you make informed decisions about taking a break and dont feel burnout and demotivation.
- It improves your performance and endurance, by being mindful of your breathing pattern, you can help your body achieve more and improve fitness.
Staying fit and motivated in your health journey is more than just a habit, it has several other complementary attributes which help it becomes successful in the long run.
Flexibility is one such factor that makes you adapt to changes to maintain your workout and prevent burnout.
It was observed by a physical trainer that athletes who have flexible attitudes recover quickly from injuries and stay stronger than the ones who have a rigid mindset toward their workout.
By practicing the habits of being flexible you bring joy back to your workouts.
You can listen to the demands of your body and stay flexible to enjoy the process and eventually get to your fitness routine.
There is a fine line between finding inspiration and comparing yourself to someone you want to become like. Getting inspiration is like motivating yourself to become the better version of yourself by making someone a role model.
People often take inspiration and make them a source of comparison for them, there comes the dark side.
A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology states that people who have an inspiration try their best to stick to their exercise routines and they get high levels of well-being.
You can make someone a role model and make yourself achieve that success but be mindful of not beating your body to get to that point because the inspirations are only there to motivate you, not to kill you.
You can surround yourself with positive people who can help you and you may use social media to get the correct source of inspiration that motivates you daily to achieve your fitness.
Staying motivated on a fitness journey is essential for achieving long-term health and wellness goals. You can use the strategies we discussed above to set a meaningful purpose for yourself and be supportive of others on the same journey as yours.
You can cultivate resilience and overcome obstacles by maintaining strategies in place.
Be kind to yourself and value your mental and physical health as a top-notch priority.