Even the best-intentioned beginnings are subject to a slump after the initial enthusiasm wears off. The trick is not to let that bump in the road keep you off track for good!
No matter what, life will make you lose sight of your health and fitness goals now and then. Here are tips and techniques for keeping that spark of motivation stoked into an eternal flame.
1.) Revisit Your Why
Whatever it is you want to do – lose weight, start exercising more, cook at home more often, get more sleep – you need to remember why you want to do it. If your personal why doesn’t seem to get you off the couch, then you might need to pivot and spend some time embracing the things that do move you.
We often hear people say things like “I want to lose weight because I want to look good in a bathing suit.” In this case, you would need to evaluate whether improving your appearance is enough to make you reach outside your comfort zone. For some people, the answer is yes, and they won't have as much trouble sticking to their routine. But then there are many others who think that looking better would be nice, but it's not something to make a complete lifestyle change over. They will never be motivated enough to actually stick to a plan.
In other words, the best way to stay motivated is to choose a goal that is important to you. So think: what do you want out of your fitness routine? Improved health and longevity? Strength and flexibility so you can keep up with your kids and grandkids? To burn fat and build muscle? Recovery from an injury or illness? Relief from physical aches and pains? Better athletic performance? Improved mood and mental wellbeing? There are many, many wonderful reasons to stick with a fitness routine. Focus on the reasons that resonate with you.
2.) Mantras, Visualization & Other Techniques
If you feel confident about your why, try leaning into it a little more. There are a few tricks to help you remember your intrinsic motivation when the going gets tough.
For example, developing a personal mantra can help you mentally power through periods of doubt or worry. This is a kind of self-talk that flips the script on any negative thoughts that might be going through your mind. Your mantra will be as individual as you are. Some examples? “I’m worth it.” “Progress not perfection.” “Every step brings me closer.” "This is for me."
You can also explore techniques like internal visualization, creating a vision board, or creating goal cards. The idea is to get excited about your why and to turn it into a mental image or script you can tap into whenever you need it.
3.) Give Yourself Credit for All Progress
In other words, abandon the all-or-nothing mindset.
Maybe this sounds familiar – you set out to eat healthy all day, but for dinner, you gave into some fast food. Does this make you want to throw in the towel and top it off with double helpings of dessert because you already "ruined" the day?
Remember, you don't need to be perfect to be on the right track. If you successfully keep up with small changes that you weren’t doing before, then you are well on your way. Don't let all-or-nothing thinking undermine the importance of your successes.
We often recommend the 80/20 rule – whether it’s your exercise routine, your eating habits, or anything else, stick to it 80% of the time and you will achieve your goals without fretting over perfection. Or, consider Jeff's bank analogy: think of your health as a bank account. Every positive thing – a good night’s sleep, well-rounded high-nutrition meals, a brisk walk in the morning – counts as a deposit. Occasional treats and indulgences are withdrawals. You don’t need to eliminate all withdrawals. You just need to aim for a positive balance.
4.) You Don’t Always Have to Go Hard
When you want something badly, it’s easy to feel pressured to give 110% every single time. The good news is, that’s not the best approach when it comes to fitness. You don’t always need to sweat until you drop, lift until you’re incapacitated, or go for an intense HIIT session for every single workout. In fact, it’s better if you don’t.
You have permission to enjoy yourself. If your regular workout sounds like too much of a chore, find the movement that feels good. It might be taking a chill yoga class, loosening up on a roam roller, taking a long slow walk, or playing games in the back yard. It all counts as “fitness” even if you never set foot in a gym.
Lastly, we offer a bit of old-fashioned and sincere encouragement: You deserve to feel better! Small steps are the most important ones because they last the longest. Even if your present community doesn’t know how to support or understand your goals, we do.
Our website Skyterra At Home has tons of resources for your journey (free trial available). If you enjoyed this article, the Fitness Redefined playlist may have more eye-opening information. Follow Skyterra Wellness on Facebook or Instagram to keep up with all the latest news and resources. And of course, our wellness retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina is here to help you jumpstart the healthy, revitalized new lifestyle you deserve.