As a fitness professional, I have worked with a variety of personalities and ability levels over the years. Yet I find that, regardless of physical competence, the most common hindrance to fitness triumph is an adverse attitude. People tend to fall into three basic categories when it comes to exercise approach: Determined, lax, and somewhere in-between. But even those with the best intentions can lag mentally. And no matter where they happen to be on this spectrum, there is one reason that reigns superior above all others as to why people hire me: Motivation.
Not only is what we do in the gym complemented profoundly by our nutrition and sleep habits, but a workout is only truly effective if we are invested in it mentally. Once you find your motivation, the most lackadaisical individual can succeed far beyond what they deemed possible.
But how does one become motivated? First of all, you must remember that being driven – or not – is merely a mindset. To be motivated is to be fully focused on your objective, along with possessing the determination, mental aptitude and confidence to succeed. You must acquire the knowledge you need to accomplish your goals, create a definitive plan and then strive to fulfill it. Stick to the relevant diet, workout frequency, exercise intensity, and sleep pattern. As you begin to see results, your motivation level will only increase.
I have listed the most common causes – and excuses – that I have heard as a personal trainer that pertain to lagging motivation. And I have suggested solutions that can resolve this negative mindset and help you prevail:
- Overwhelmed by your goals and where to begin. First of all, you need to outline your objectives and then design a clear path for achieving them. Keep your plan realistic. For example, do not challenge yourself to lose 30 pounds in three weeks. If your goal is to lose 30 pounds, break down this target into small increments that are feasible and easier to obtain. As you achieve each “micro-goal” you will feel accomplished and inspired to push forward.
- Confused about nutrition. Whether your intention is to lose fat weight, gain lean muscle mass, or run a marathon, your nutritional choices are imperative when it comes to acquiring the health and physique you desire. Some individuals are more disheartened by the nutritional aspect of their fitness plan than by the physical side. Consult with a nutritionist to make the right food choices. Or research online. And keep a food diary. As with your exercise plan, set yourself small goals to fulfill. Cut out bad foods gradually, and slowly introduce healthier options. As you eliminate the bad stuff you will be surprised at how you no longer feel those guilty cravings.
- The thought of exercise is daunting. Rather than dreading exercise, try to look forward to the gym. Various workout types exist involving different apparatus and routines. There is a gratifying workout out there for everyone, whether it’s weight training, boxing or a belly dancing class. Try out a few and then stick with what you enjoy. Just be sure to choose a workout in line with your fitness goals. For example, if you want to gain 20 pounds of lean muscle, it is typically best to utilize a weight-based program. Keep your workouts varied so you don’t get bored. Frequently altering your routine, even slightly, will present a new challenge and give you something to look forward to. Remember, you should not view your gym session as a chore. Rather, perceive your workout as an activity to conquer, and have fun with it!
- You want to workout but don’t know what to do. You need confidence to achieve your target. If you are clueless when it comes to exercise, consider booking a session with a professional. It only takes one meeting to discuss your objectives and a good trainer will be able to write you up a workout plan. Alternatively, if your budget is tight, there are lots of online resources that can help (one of my personal favorites is bodybuilding.com). Whichever option you choose, you will have a guideline and a clear path to your goal.
- You are frustrated because you can’t see results. Do not expect to notice changes over night. I have often witnessed people becoming frustrated because they want results fast. Be patient! Typically it takes at least two to four weeks to observe any transformation. Time and again I am asked how long it will take to lose x amount of pounds or gain x amount of muscle. That is like asking how long a piece of string is. Every person is different genetically, and physically. And other factors come into play, such as nutrition. If you stick to a solid workout plan and eat well, you will see results. If you are doing everything right and still not seeing results, make an appointment with your physician to check for common problems such as thyroid issues.
- You know what you need to do but you feel lazy. If you have the necessary confidence and ability but motivation is still a problem, consider exercising with a friend or joining a fitness class. When people workout with others they often feel encouraged and inspired, especially when it’s a partner or a friend who can keep them in check. Hiring a personal trainer is also a good option if you simply cannot get motivated any other way. A fitness professional will not only elevate your mental energy, but they will plan your workouts for you, give you step-by-step directions, and push you to get through your workout. As you notice results you will gain momentum and motivation.
We all have our “off days” when it comes to working out. Even I experience them sometimes. But I focus, and channel myself to push through. Because after a while, exercise becomes a habit, a necessity, part of your daily routine. You look forward to working out, because it makes you feel good, and keeps you fit, healthy, youthful and invigorated. When you find your niche, you will have completely conquered the motivation handicap, and physical activity will become easier and enjoyable. Yes, enjoyable! I was once asked what motivated me and I sarcastically replied “vanity”. Maybe there is more truth in that than I’d care to admit. But what actually motivates you is irrelevant, as long as you find the drive from somewhere.
Now go forward, my friend, and get your ass into that gym. The only thing stopping you is you.