Trish French, MSW, CAP, LCSW
Why does exercise seem to come naturally to some, while to others, it’s a difficult task that they never have time for? Why do most feel motivated to work out for their "New Year’s Resolution" and then drop off within the first month? We need to first identify our exercise goals and then take action.
When we want to achieve a goal, we will do anything to prioritize it in our lives...Wake up early, stay up late, find an hour in between tasks, whatever it takes, we will find a way.
For some, like myself, we grew up being active since age three. Being in sports as a child teaches you a sense of self-discipline, unwavering dedication, perseverance to push through challenges to grow and, thus, created a teamwork mentality. These positive qualities create positive momentum for balancing wellness and life goals. For others that didn't have an active lifestyle, exercise can seem like a daunting task. Whatever your motivation is, clearly define your goal, write it down and visually see your goal every day.
A dream written down with a date becomes a GOAL.
A goal broken down into steps becomes a PLAN.
A plan backed by ACTION makes your dreams come true.
The harder you work for something, the greater you'll feel when you achieve it. What is YOUR motivation for working out?
Motivation and dedication are the deciding factors of whether you follow through or not.
In our society, self-care seems to be last on the priority list and instead, people tend to others needs first. Distractions such as work, holidays and family tend to lead you off course with your fitness goals, and with more demands than ever, it's difficult to get back on track.
Before you set your work out goals, we need to strengthen your mindset to withstand any obstacles that may hinder your progress. Let's look at why motivation is a vital key in planning and implementing a successful fitness routine. And who knows, your positive momentum may help jumpstart a loved one to strive for greatness as well!
Don't Have an All or Nothing Approach
You stare at your gym key from across the room, as you turn on Netflix. “I’ll start my workout plan on Monday.” It's a harsh truth...at this moment, you're not your best self. Some hold themselves to an "All or Nothing Approach" with exercise, feeling they have to put in an hour of physical activity or they shouldn't try at all. Having balance in your life will allow you to prioritize your goals plus add in fun activities. Agree to workout first so your negative thoughts don't take over. Once you accomplish your workout, you won't feel guilty for watching that Netflix series for an hour or two.
Start with small goals, like walking for 15 minutes, or doing 10 minutes of weight training, to avoid feeling so intimidated. Adding on additional time or workouts each week will help to slowly adjust your mind and body to the new routine. When you feel like quitting, think about why you started. Continue to read your GOALS to yourself every morning and night to ingrain your new lifestyle.
Have an Accountability Partner
Working out with a friend, spouse or group will help keep you accountable. There is power in accountability because you know someone else cares about your success too. This plays into your mindset as well. We gain positive feelings when we accomplish our goals, and sharing these joyful emotions with others creates passion and motivation to live our best lives. You need to have positive influences in your corner who are honest and supportive.
Workouts are more enjoyable with others. You'll have someone positively challenging you, as well as celebrating the small milestones you achieve. This reinforces your routine because you start to relate exercise with accomplishment! Plus your workout partner will encourage you on difficult days and you can do the same for them.
Don't Tie Your Fitness Goals into Your Looks
The benefits of exercise go deeper than your outside appearance. It improves your mood by allowing you to de-stress and stimulates brain chemicals that leave you feeling accomplished, happier, more relaxed, and less anxious. Physical activity boosts your energy by improving your muscle strength and endurance, creating inner confidence. This also helps to promote better sleep and puts the spark back into your sex life.
To gain these benefits and more, it takes hard work, dedication and consistency to reach your fitness goals. If instant results are not noticeable, some may begin to feel discouraged and quit the new routine. Keep pushing and hold on to those positive feelings of accomplishment. Again, read your written goals daily to continue your momentum.
Focus on How Working Out Will Make You Feel
The feelings of a well-executed workout are the greatest reward. Whenever you are lacking discipline during an “off day”, remember the feeling of being more energized, accomplished and relaxed after your routine. Once you are at the gym, you will have an easier time getting into this positive mindset. While you might feel sore in the short-term, your body will always respond well to physical activity. Your brain releases the "feel-good" chemicals, serotonin and dopamine, each time you work out. These chemicals help elevate your mood, clear your mind and gain momentum towards your fitness goals.
Find Your Hidden Anchors | What Issues are Holding You Back?
Identify what has stopped you from reaching your exercise goals in the past and write a plan for overcoming these obstacles. Having this strategic plan will challenge you through the difficult days and help you achieve your goals. Goal setting helps us see the future, understand what we want, create a plan and stay on track until achieved. For those who have set goals and failed to achieve them, they may feel like a failure. Feeding into these negative thoughts will only keep you from taking action.
Whatever you put your time and energy into will become more important to you. It's hard to care for something you are not invested in. The same amount of time goes by on the couch as in the gym...it is all relative to your thought process. Learn to set an intention with your goals. Intentions are in the present moment. They are about the inner relationship with yourself. Identify your true intentions (i.e. "I want to feel happy and healthy." "I want to be a positive role model for my kids and community." I want to feel confident physically and mentally to live my best life.")
Remember that your mind is a powerhouse. Positivity improves your thoughts, feelings and actions. When we think positive, we feel positive feelings and take positive action.
If you are struggling to understand what this new active lifestyle will look like, below are some common traits with successful people.
They are structured and have a set schedule for workouts and self-care.
They consume a healthy diet.
They surround themselves with other positive, motivating people.
They challenge themselves when times get tough, for growth and change.
They stick with their workouts, even on a busy, stressful day
Start with Shorter Workouts
Start with shorter workouts and create a schedule to increase the length of your exercise routine and intensity each week. Exercising 15-20 minutes is better than no exercise. If you lack motivation on a particular day, tell yourself "My workout won't take long, just go for it." It's alright if you fluctuate in time and difficulty, just don't allow yourself to quit. Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make.
"If you don't make the time to work on creating the life you want, you're eventually going to be forced to spend a lot of time dealing with a life you don't want."
Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
S.M.A.R.T goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Start a realistic goal like “I want to lose 10 pounds by x amount of time” or "walking for 15 minutes, 3 times per week." Set a plan by writing in a journal or calendar to increase your focus. You can build up to a full exercise schedule, celebrating your small accomplishments along the way. There are no quick fixes for weight loss or achieving your fitness goals. A little progress each day adds up to incredible results. Download your free Workout Log HERE.
Focus on the small steps: one workout at a time, one day at a time, one meal at a time
Take Before & After Photos
When you see yourself every day, it’s hard to notice small changes from exercising. Weighing yourself can be difficult to understand because you may lose fat, but gain muscle.
So how do we track our workout goals along the way? Take progress photos before you embark on your journey! Pictures at the 30, 60 and 90-day mark will help you visually see your progress and accomplishments along the way. Use these photos to document your results and if you want to inspire others, you can share your transformation on social media. This may create a ripple effect and influence others to be happy and healthy!
Create Your Ultimate Workout Playlist
Music evokes emotions, so finding the right workout music is essential. Put together 15-20 of your favorite upbeat songs that have a higher tempo. Play these when getting dressed for the gym, as well as during and after your workout to pump you up!
Your inner self-talk can either be a powerful stepping-stone or a major obstacle to reaching your goals. If you constantly say to yourself, "I'm worthless, stupid, not good enough," "I can't do this," "Why even bother?" "I'm a failure," then this will rob you of mental strength. These negative thoughts will cause you to feel depressed, angry and anxious, leaving you frozen when it's time to take action towards your goals.
You may need to invest in therapy or inner healing to rid your mind of these negative thoughts. It can be difficult to change your thoughts when they are ingrained from possible trauma in your childhood or adult experiences. Start writing down each negative thought you have and counteract this with a positive thought. Train your subconscious to stop these destructive statements or they will eventually sabotage your life.
Positive self-talk has proven to elevate mood and create confidence. Tell yourself, “I’m ready to embrace change, I deserve to feel and look my best. I'm striving for my best each day." Build yourself up and stay motivated by checking off your fitness goals! You got this! Just remind yourself, you ARE good enough and deserve to be happy.
Sports drinks are not as healthy as the media has you to believe. They are packed with sugar and do not properly hydrate after a rigorous routine. This makes it more difficult for your body to repair and can affect how you feel during your next workout. Furthermore, dehydration increases stress and cortisol in the body, causing a mental fog in other areas of life.
Drinking 6-8 glasses of water daily will increase your energy, cleanse your digestive tract, boost your immune system and prevent you from overeating. The benefits are honestly more than I can name. If drinking 6-8 glasses daily seems intimidating, purchase a large pint or gallon size container and label 8 specific hours on the bottle (see photo below). This will help you drink a glass of water every few hours, spreading out your water intake.
When Life Happens, Let Back on Track
Living a healthier life is more than just losing weight; it's about losing the mindset that got you there in the first place.
Arm yourself with knowledge and use this information daily to stay on track with your fitness goals. When life knocks you down, these are the moments you need to exercise to release your frustrations and stress. It is completely normal to take a day off from your workout schedule, occasionally, due to “life getting in the way." Just make sure you don't miss a beat getting back into your healthy habits. You are worth the time and investment.
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Ask me your questions, leave me a comment, or tell me about your methods of motivation! Share our post to help inspire others to exercise!
A HEALTHY MIND CREATES A HEALTHY LIFE
-Trish French, MSW, CAP, LCSW