Learning To Stay Motivated & Exercise One Session At A TimeBeth Wright
It’s almost February; the longest month of the year is almost at the door and we said goodbye to ‘Blue Monday’, about to enter the month of hearts and flowers, February. Even though love is traditionally ‘all around’ during February, it is known for a dip in New Year’s resolutions and commitments to health and wellbeing. So how do you stay motivated throughout the year, one session at a time?
What Is Motivation?
The definition of motivation is fundamentally “to take action in order to achieve a goal” – It’s the fuel in the engine to keep the machine moving, in this case, you and your body but each of us is motivated in a different way.
Why Is It Important To Stay Motivated?
For some of us, maintaining motivational levels are relatively easy, especially if we are already used to exercise and movement is part of our day-to-day life. It doesn’t mean we don’t have off days – that’s normal and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up. Starting out is more challenging though and it also depends on your personality and whether you are a self-starter or prefer to be accountable to someone else. So what are the two types of motivation?
Types Of Motivation
- Extrinsic Motivation
Usually, for extroverts, extrinsic motivation literally means that your key life drivers are external to you – whether it be through competitive group activities, praise from a third party or coming first in a competition. Your goal is driven by some form of gratification or reward.
2. Intrinsic Motivation
By contrast, those of us who are motivated intrinsically, especially when it comes to fitness and well-being, do so because we want to, without the need to compete or garner praise. The ‘intrinsics’ amongst us are happy and fulfilled by the activity itself.
Whilst the above definitions are slightly generalised for the purposes of a blog each of us is motivated in a different way. Some activities, especially when it comes to sport and exercise, will appeal more than others, depending on our personality. By way of summary, there are four common motivations linked to physical activity, as follows:
What Are The Four Common Motivations For Physical Activity?
Create An Incentive
The definition of an incentive will differ from person to person. For one person it might be to fit into a party dress for a family celebration; for another, it might be for health reasons and to lower blood pressure or cholesterol levels; for someone else, it might be simply to feel healthier on a daily basis as they age or to help recover after surgery.
Create A Positive Environment
How and where you exercise can and will likely impact on your mindset both positively or negatively, depending on the environment. If you are exercising at home, make sure you are warm enough but with enough fresh air – maybe choose a room with a view if you are sitting on an exercise bike and want to feel a little gratitude and appreciate Mother Nature.
For the ‘extrinsic’ amongst us, a positive environment might be more competitive or group-centric, ie working out with a friend or loved one as a motivator and driver. Team activities might also appeal such as a group walk in The Great Outdoors (weather permitting).
This point is quite important as you shouldn’t start feeling guilty if you fall off the wagon one day or week. We all have off days and sometimes we are under the weather or indeed impacted by the weather, family obligations or the like. Just shake it off and look forward to the next solo or group activity that you have committed to. Life sometimes gets in the way but don’t let it take over.
Once again, possibly more so for the ‘extrinsics’ who prefer to be motivated by third parties or external influences, find someone you can talk to about your health and well-being journey. If you choose to be accountable to someone else, maybe set a fixed time aside each week or month to talk through your little wins and challenges. Maybe say ‘thank you’ with a nice cupper or a listening ear when they need some support.
So why is all of this important? Primarily, to keep you moving, especially during winter, when the weather is often miserable and daylight hours are limited in the UK. So how do you remove barriers to exercise throughout the year?
REMOVING THE BARRIERS TO EXERCISE
Once you work out what motivates you and find a way to help you to stay motivated, how do you navigate barriers such as injury, frustration and boredom to keep you on track?
Pain & Fatigue
When we undertake any form of physical exertion, at any age, pain and fatigue may impact upon output from time to time, especially if we suffer from a chronic health condition or are in recovery from illness.
Patience is key, as well as warming up and cooling down and also not trying to be Superman after just a few workouts.
Frustration & Disappointment
By setting ourselves goals and challenges that are too lofty, especially if we haven’t exercised for some time, might lead to frustration and disappointment. The latter then can become a de-motivator and create resistance to your motivational plans. Dust yourself down, give yourself a little talking to and just keep going. Well-being and health should be longer-term goals not just for the now and everyone will come up against a brick wall or two along their journey.
Just as pain and fatigue can set you back, so can boredom, especially if you are driven by clear goals and are competitive by nature. If you know you suffer from boredom and a lack of stimulation in general, ensure that you mix up your activities accordingly. Don’t just stick to one activity and, if you are able to, vary your environment and team or individual activities.
In short, staying motivated in any aspect of our life is not always easy or straightforward but it is needed. Nothing changes if you don’t change or commit to some form of mindset and physical shift. Get a pen and paper or your phone and jot down a list of what you want to achieve this year, what motivates you and don’t forget the Valentine’s Day card…
If you are starting out on your home fitness journey, why not have a read of this Roger Black Fitness blog: ‘5 Cardio Tips For Beginners From Roger Black Fitness.