So you made the usual new year’s resolution to lose weight and exercise more, except we’re already 2 and a half months into the year and your resolve has joined you on the couch. Instead of beating yourself up, (First Tip…that is not going to get you motivated, quite the opposite in fact) maybe you just need to understand what will motivate you, and how you can use that to your advantage.
Why do you want to change your lifestyle? (Tip 2 it is a ‘lifestyle’ change, not a diet. Diet’s are usually temporary and won’t produce the lasting health benefits you want).
Is it to meet a particular goal, like you’re getting married and want to look tip top in your photos.
Or is it due to health issues, you want to lose weight, or are you just sick and tired of feeling sick and tired?
Maybe it’s for family reasons, like keeping up with energetic children or to support a spouse on their lifestyle makeover?
Whatever your key driver is you can use that to motivate you. If it is to accomplish a specific goal like those fab wedding pics, then get your partner or a friend or family member on board and schedule regular exercise with them, take turns finding healthy recipes to cook or share.
If it is for health reasons then set regular intervals to review measurable targets, maybe it is the time you spend walking or number of laps swimming, the number of steps you are taking per day, the number of servings of vegetables you are getting in one day. Don’t make your initial goals too daunting, remember every journey begins with a single step. Write a goal or two you can tick of each week and then get cracking.
If it is for family reasons, (you can use this approach whatever your motivating factor) then tell your family, tell your friends, tell your work colleagues. You will be more likely to stick to your exercise and healthy eating targets if the people you care about know and support you, and you just might motivate some of them to join you.
How to stay motivated…
Aside from the actual goal that you have, it also helps to understand what motivates you as an individual as well.
Are you goal focused and more likely to keep going if you are hitting small goals regularly? Do you like getting rewards for hitting targets (lets be honest, who doesn’t!) try writing up a schedule with little rewards that you will earn next to each target. Avoid utilising food for rewards or treats, instead make it related to your goal, maybe some new exercise gear, a massage treatment for those hard-working muscles, trying a new activity, an out of town trip.
Are you competitive? Maybe set your targets with a friend then check who is staying on track to achieving their goals. Or you could try joining a local social sports team, a great way to have fun, meet new people and get fit at the same time.
Maybe you are inspired by helping others? Why not form a walking, jogging, tennis or cycling group that will help others get some exercise with you, reach out to family, friends and neighbours. Having a support network will help you keep motivated and committed to a regular schedule.
Prioritise you and your health
Don’t set yourself up to fail by trying to do every class in the timetable at your gym in the first week. They gym might not even be your thing, try and find something you enjoy doing instead and make your targets realistic and achievable, try utilising the SMART acronym for your goal setting, make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time orientated.
Start with 2-3 x 30-minute slots a week ideally building these up to 3-4. While it may seem daunting if you aren’t used to a regular exercise schedule, putting it in context that is only 120 minutes… 2 hours! Contrast this with how much time you sit watching TV or tapping away at your phone each week, imagine instead the benefit of spending this time working on your healthiest you.
Build your exercise into your weekly routine and make it non-negotiable, after all you owe it to yourself and your family to stay healthy and fit.
Remember you are only human, we all have days when we would rather go home and have a glass of wine or relax rather than hit the gym or the pavement, the trick is not to let the possibility of doubt enter your mind. Know that no matter what you are committed to your schedule, then give yourself a pat on the back and tick off each workout like an accomplishment, because it is.
Need more inspiration? Find out about the mood changing and memory enhancing benefits of exercise and how it can help protect your brain against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s by watching Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki’s Ted Talk ‘The Brain-changing benefits of exercise’.
Remember to consult with your medical professional before undertaking a new exercise regime.