Being motivated to exercise and make positive food choices is crucial to living a healthy lifestyle. But how do you find the motivation?
Positive Attitude Means Positive Results
It can be tough to find motivation to exercise, especially when first starting your health journey. You know those people you see on exercise infomercials who are just unbelievably jazzed about doing some insane exercise routine? And you’re sitting on your couch watching them and thinking, “Seriously?! If I did that right now I’d keel over . . . there’s got to be a better way for me to start exercising.” I totally get it because I’ve been that girl on the couch without any motivation or direction.
A very valuable lesson I’ve learned is to look at that situation from a different mindset. Instead of looking at that program from a defeatists point of view put a positive spin on it. Maybe think of it like this: “I’m going to set a goal to take a High Intensity Interval Training class just like that one because I know I can achieve that.” I found that line of thinking makes you more likely to research how to reach that fitness goal whether through group classes at a gym or personal training sessions or whatever safe method works for you.
Remember starting small is actually really smart. Setting mini goals on your journey to achieve the ultimate goal will help you to stay in that positive headspace. I can tell you from personal experience that achieving the smaller goals is what kept me going (especially on days I didn’t want to get moving). Everyone starts at different levels so talk to a fitness professional to see what intensity level is going to start you on a path to success.
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic: what motivates you?
There are a couple of ways to classify what motivates you to participate in exercise. If you’re extrinsically motivated that means you’re exercising because of an external goal. You may be hoping to lose weight, participate in an athletic event etc. When you experience intrinsic motivation you’re exercising for the enjoyment of the experience.
When I first started I was extrinsically motivated to lose weight and regain my health. But I found that was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster because a lot of my exercise was driven by fear. I was afraid of exercise not helping to combat my illness, gaining more weight, developing Type II Diabetes (I was on the brink); the list could honestly go on. These anxieties took the fun out of being active so I felt under pressure to always have a stellar session or guilty if I worked late and didn’t get to the gym.
It’s really easy to fall into this trap so cut yourself some slack, being as active as you can is better than sitting on the couch. It wasn’t until I found the activities I really enjoyed participating in that I noticed a shift in my motivation. I looked forward to going so I didn’t have to drag my butt to the gym. This helped me to stick to a consistent routine so now I actually need exercise in my life. It’s not anxiety or guilt tugging at me, my body just really needs to get up and move.
But even with all the positive self-motivation you can muster sometimes relapsing back into inactivity can happen. Don’t get discouraged; life happens just get up and try again. One of the best ways to keep from relapsing though is to have the support of your friends and family.
Group classes or activities are a great way to hold yourself accountable for your health. You have people right beside you to support you through the exercise and you can even make plans to be workout partners during the program. I’m personally working on taking more group classes to make sure I don’t get bored with my own routine.
I was too nervous to attend a group setting in the beginning so I just decided to work with one of my closest friends. We didn’t live in the same area so we couldn’t work out together but instead we would exchange workouts, talk about our goals, and what issues we were encountering. This helped me because when I had a tough session my friend was there to keep me going. So if you have someone who has the same interest in health (whether near or far) ask them to get on board with your health progress!
I was very lucky to have such supportive friends and family. I actually sat down with those closest to me and explained that getting healthy was crucial to my happiness. I told them how important it was to have their support as I tried new activities or for them to be flexible with the restaurants we went to so I could have healthy meals. The biggest thing is to speak up. Once those who love you know how important this is to you, you might be surprised how quickly they’ll help out.