12 May The top 5 ways to stay motivated when you start training
When you are exercising for the first time in years and are making serious changes to your diet to eat better, it is going to be tough at the start. Your body is going to be sore, you are going to be tempted to go back to those tasty but fatty food items and sometimes your motivation is going to falter and you will wonder is it all worth it.
I still remember the first time I walked into a gym over 20 years ago. I had put on a little bit of weight after giving up smoking (OK a lot of weight) and I knew I had to do something. I went to a small council gym (well there wasn’t a lot of choice back then), did a class, and hated every minute of it. Not only was I sore, frustrated but felt embarrassed that I was so unfit and everyone was looking at me! The second time wasn’t much better.
But I stuck with it and after a few months, I felt so much better, was seeing some changes to my body, had more energy and developed more confidence in myself. It is then I started to love exercise – and I have either been a member of a gym or a fitness instructor at a gym ever since.
A similar thing happened to my diet. A few years ago I did a food diary and saw just how badly I was eating. I had developed some really poor eating habits and again the weight slowly creeped back on (10 kilos over the years). So I decided to give my diet a complete overhaul, ditched all the fatty and sugary food and started to consume more lean meats, veggies and fruit. Oh boy my body went into complete shock and I ended up quite sick and in bed for a few weeks as a result.
Again I was tempted to throw in the towel. But when I got used to the new diet regime, I felt stronger, looked leaner, my body fat rate dropped dramatically and I really changed the definition of my body. As a result, I ended up in the best shape I have ever been in my life (which I still feel today). Looking back, there was a lot of pain but it was one of the best decisions I had ever made in my life.
So here are my top 5 personal and professional ways to keep going when the going gets tough.
1. Get your friends and families on board
This is really important – tell your support group about your new exercise routine and how you want to change your diet for the better. Your friends and family should help you along the way so you reach your goals. Maybe they may even join you on your journey. But having a strong network of people who will keep you on track is critical to staying motivated. The last thing you want is someone sabotaging your hard work.
2. Start easy and go from there
When ever someone new tries any of my classes, the first thing I say is to go easy, take a break whenever you need it and focus on good form and technique.
By going easy at the start you are more likely to continue training, minimise injuries and achieve your goals. Go too hard at the start and the chances are you will give up before you even start (and I will never see you again).
Start with manageable short term goals, take small steps and this will make it a little easier to reach what you set out to achieve. This will help you stay motivated to push for those bigger, long-term fitness goals. And yes it will start to get easier and hurt less!
Your body is an amazing thing – it is incredible what it can get used to and what it can do. After a while, your body won’t ache so much, your tastebuds will adapt and trust me, you will start to feel and look better.
3. Don’t compare yourself to anyone
It is something we naturally do, but please don’t. It is your workout, you body, don’t worry about anyone else or what they are doing.
I always drag new people to the front of my class, I know they hate it because they feel so self conscious and think everyone is looking at them. The funny thing is, no one is – everyone is way too focused on themselves and making sure they are doing the right moves and keeping in time.
Comparing yourself to others will only create anxiety and lead to endless negative thoughts. So don’t compare and despair – focus on your own self-worth. Your training is a chance to focus 100% on you – how many times in a day do you manage to do that – take it as a great opportunity to spend time on improving you.
3. Reward yourself
Now don’t go crazy, but spoil yourself when you do reach your goals. Get a massage, buy a new outfit, get a manicure or go out for a fancy (and healthy meal).
You worked hard, you deserve this. Life is all about spoiling yourself now and then so celebrate the small victories.
4. Don’t obsess about things
In can be all to easy to fall into the trap of weighing yourself every day and watching every morsel of food that passes your lips.
Try to think of starting a new exercise programme as the first stage of your new life. It is good to have goals but it is really important not to become obsessed with the results but rather to learn to enjoy the process, be present in the moment and be grateful for the ability to be able to move your body freely.
Though it is important to track your progress, don’t obsess every waking moment as this is not going to help you. And don’t feel like you have to train every day – make sure you take a couple of days off a week to let your body recover and you muscles repair so you can go even stronger into your next training session – it is always quality over quantity.
5. Focus on the end goal
Ultimately everyone has the same goal – to have a fitter stronger body to live a more active, healthier and longer life.
Your body is the most valuable asset you will ever own in your life. Think of any training you do as an investment on that asset. The more you put in, the better return you will get.
There is absolutely nothing more important in your life than you health. It is something we take for granted (I have been guilty of this too). It is only when we are sick or injured, that we realise just how important it is so keep focusing on the end goal – that is a something truly worth fighting for.