You know it’s important to make exercise a way of life, so it can get very frustrating and discouraging when you can’t stick to the fitness program you set for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. This is a challenge everybody faces at some point. It’s how you deal with it that makes the difference between achieving your fitness goals and giving up.
I have found that main cause of this issue lies more with your state of mind and spirit. Working out is as much of a mental and emotional journey as it is physical. Yes, you have the very valid excuses of busy schedules, fatigue, and all kinds of other limitations, but in the end, it is how you think about these challenges and the chances of you actually achieving your goal that will decide what you do about them.
If you get this and think of your mind and spirit like muscles which are a part of you that need to be trained and strengthened, sticking to your fitness program and developing healthy fitness habits will become so much easier!
Read on to find tips to help you strengthen your commitment and empower you to stay on track from now on.
1. Choose a really deep heart centred reason why you want to work out
Think about why you are really exercising. Why do you want to get fit? Is your goal superficial or external in nature? Is it for short term social gratification like looking good in beach wear, for an upcoming event or because your doctor told you, but you don’t really feel the urgency yet?
If this is so, you may need to shift your thinking to improve your health and reach your fitness goals. Think about a goal much closer to your heart. Like having more energy and being agile enough to enjoy running around and playing with your children. How amazing would it feel if your back pain disappeared and you could walk up a flight of stairs without a challenge? Exercise can be like therapy. It helps distract you from stress, calm your mind, helps sleep and boosts your spirit. Work on deep rooted emotional goals like these rather than focusing on the number on your scale or a dress size.
You will radically change your results if you change your mind set to exercising. Switch your goals from superficial short term to deep rooted, emotional ones. Make your goal so compelling for you that you will do anything to achieve it. This way you’ll find it much easier to motivate yourself to achieve your goals
2. There is some current gain that is competing with some future pain
What this means is that there’s possibly something you love (gain) about your current lifestyle which you envision having to give up to live a healthier life, like having ice cream or fast food. At the same time, there could be something in your goal way of life that you actually don’t want (pain), like doing a workout when you hate ‘exercising’ or leading a ‘regimented’ life. This is your big block. This is what is really putting the brakes on you sticking to your fitness program and achieving your goals. Your other excuses are more superficial and cover this up. If you really wanted to, you would. So figure out a compromise for yourself that works for you, you will set yourself up for success. Focus on your compelling goal, your heart felt reason why, and allow it to pull you to succeed.
3. Be realistic in your goal and program setting
With fitness, going “all in” doesn’t always work in the long run. There is a saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. If you jump into a highly demanding fitness regime after having nothing for a long time, you are setting yourself up to fail. This will affect your confidence, your morale and your spirit. Take baby steps when starting off. Do what you know you can manage, not what you think you should or what others around you are doing. Like working out twice or thrice a week rather than every day, or trying one fitness class instead of two in a row.
In addition, do you really, deep down, believe that you can achieve your goal? Be honest. If it feels too big, set a smaller one to start off with that you know you can achieve with a little work.
You will start to build your confidence in your abilities as you start achieving your smaller goals and this sense of accomplishment will empower you to stick to your program and come back for more and set bigger goals in the future. This guarantees an increase in your level of health and fitness in the long run.
4. You need to love your planned workout
Working out doesn’t need to be “torture”! If that is what you feel it’s like when you think of or do it, stop right now! The stress you are feeling is negating any kind of gain. Before going further, think of ways you could have more fun exercising. It could mean completely changing your exercises like going outdoors instead of to a gym or figuring out how to make your current exercises more fun like putting together a motivational playlist. When you have fun, you are happy, and this positively affects your mind and your spirit and helps you stay committed to your program.
You can help train and redirect your mind to look forward to working out by choosing positive workout memories and keep shifting your thoughts there when you realise you are getting negative. This will help you distress and inspire future exercise. Remember that in the beginning just showing up is a battle won! Don’t worry about what you are doing, anything is better than nothing. Focus on fun. Congratulate yourself for taking action and getting started. This little effort will give you the push to work out and get results.
5. Don’t work out with pain
No one likes pain. So if you are scared to work out because you are already in pain, the chances are you will not even try. However, sometimes pain can be reduced by exercising and focusing on strengthening the area. So don’t be afraid to work out if you are in pain. Instead, find a way to work around it and exercise other body parts. Get the advice from a doctor or professional to help guide you and develop the knack of listening to your body and what it’s trying to tell you. This goes a long way in helping you stay on track and stick to your fitness program.
If you feel any kind of unusual pain when you work out, please go immediately to see an appropriate health practitioner. Don’t push yourself to work out through pain if you don’t understand it. Get it checked. It is better to take a couple of days off and heal rather than push yourself to the point of getting seriously injured. After you get a cleared from the doctor, maybe change the exercises you were doing or modify them so you get your confidence back and get more out of the workout in the long run.
6. Tweak your nutrition
What you eat actually plays a major part in how you feel, your energy levels and the results you get from your fitness program. This in turn affects your motivation to continue with what you have started or give up after a while. If you are focusing on your fitness program but not adjusting your nutrition at the same time, you very possibly will not see the results you expected as soon as you thought you would. On the other hand by drastically cutting down on the amount of food you eat, you will not have the energy to work out after some time, and though you may see some short term results, this will not give you lasting change and the chances of you lapsing are high. In fact, you may not see any change or actually put on weight if you starve yourself during the day and then eat too much at night.
When it comes to nutrition, I’ve found that you get the best results when you change it for the better at the same time as you start your workout. Focus on eating the right amount of the right foods at the right time and get professional advice to help you stay on track get to your goals sooner.
7. Be kind to yourself
You sometimes expect too much from yourself. Give yourself time to change. You can’t get overnight results when you have allowed your weight to creep on and increase slowly over many years, or you have ignored your weight gain for a long time. Expecting too much too soon is a common challenge here. You may think that the harder you work yourself, and the more you exercise, the faster you will see results. But this is not always true. In fact, it’s more possible that you will experience burn out, lose your confidence and give up.
You need to silence or ignore your inner critic (the voice in your head that says things like “You‘ll never do it. It’s no use trying. It’s better to give up now.”) and instead, focus on listening to and developing your inner cheer leader (your inner voice that says “ Wow! You are amazing! You took the first step! Keep going.”). Your confidence in your exercise ability is the highest predictor of how much you will work out and how long you will stick to the plan. So if you have low to no confidence about working out, the chances you stick to your program are little to none. Start with exercises and activities you do well and are confident doing and you will go further than before.
8. Stop comparing yourself with others
You are unique. You are not a copy of anyone around you, so what works for them may not work for you. They way your body responds to the same work out may also differ. Accept this and understand that it’s ok to have a different workout routine and activity plan from your friend. You have to be intrinsically motivated to succeed. Know yourself. Focus on your deep heart centered goal. Understand your needs and balance it out with your likes and dislikes. You will succeed in the long run if you just aim at being a tiny bit better today than you were yesterday.
9. Get up and get back on track
You will not always want to work out. You will get discouraged and want to give up at times. It is at these times that you have to keep your eye on the prize. Focus on your goal. Not your superficial one, but that one that speaks to your heart and your spirit. Your intrinsic one.
Every time you realise you’ve slacked, just get back up, reset, restart and rock on. Don’t let your inner critic shame yourself for not sticking it out, but show yourself some compassion and let your inner cheer leader redirect you by focusing on your small wins so far and encourage you to switch gears and figure out how to keep going. Hold yourself accountable without making excuses, be objective about what went wrong and just change it up for the future. Focus on fun. If you enjoy something you will stick to it more rather than do a more effective exercise for a short time and then stop completely.
10. Celebrate your wins and track your progress
We can reach our big goal one small win at a time. Sometimes we feel the wins are too small to be counted. They aren’t because no matter how small, every win is still a step closer to your ultimate goal. Keeping a gratitude journal helps boost your confidence and strengthens your commitment to yourself and the achievement of your wellness goal. This also doubles up as a program tracker. If you feel something isn’t working out, change it and choose something more fun to help you stay on track.
Your health and wellness journey will have ups and down. Accept it. Expect it. Treat yourself kindly when your downs and celebrate every single win. True wellness comes from being fit not only in your body, but also in your mind and spirit. Focussing on working on all 3 will help you stick to your fitness program and get you Super Fit!