After several false starts and much consideration, many people finally decide to make a change and get fit, vowing that–this time–it’s for good. Only, it doesn’t always turn out that way. We know just getting started with a new fitness plan is the toughest hurdle to clear, but keeping your will to stick with it can be just as difficult.
Something Old, Something New
New things are exciting. Old things are not. There’s that damned Human Condition rearing it’s ugly head again. We’ve all experienced elation from some shiny, new something-or-other, and then the eventual boredom that comes with the passage of time.
Starting a new fit lifestyle is no different. When you first start, motivation is often through the roof. As a beginner, visible changes tend to take place quickly. This is one of the things that drives fitness motivation. But as the pursuit becomes harder, and fast physical changes drop off, boredom inevitably begins to set in.
After getting past the hardest part of the whole process–getting started–you don’t want to let your motivation tank. That just takes you down a path called Giving Up. When you give up you have to start all over. Who wants to start over? Not me!
It’s at this point a game plan is in order. Another plan to go along with your fitness plan. A Master Plan.
Building Your Master Plan
Don’t Make Changes all at Once
The biggest reason we fall off the wagon happens at the very beginning. When we first start out we’re in ultra-motivated mode. That initial motivation multiplies, infecting every part of our lives. Suddenly we want to change all the things.
More is better! Right????
Oftentimes we go overboard making changes because our cup of motivation runneth over. We change our diet, start working out, try to quit smoking, quit drinking, blah, blah, blah, etc.
Do you know what all of that is?
The signs of a motivated and highly productive person?
No! That’s pressure. Quit doing that to yourself!
The problem with trying to improve everything all at once is it’s unsustainable. This is because an all-or-nothing attitude often comes along with all this new goal-setting. If I can’t do it all, then what’s the point? This tends to be the mindset.
With so many changes to keep up with, we’re bound to fail at something. And when we do, the all-or-nothing attitude creeps in, stealing our resolve for the other things we want to accomplish.
Instead of demolishing your fitness plan before it’s even found its feet, take it one step at a time and you will be more likely to stick with it. Change one thing and see how it goes. Then introduce another change, and another after that.
Find Something You Enjoy Doing
I love lifting weights. You may not. Who’s more likely to stick to a weight lifting program?
Yep, give yourself a gold star. ⭐
If you try to make yourself do something you’re not interested in, are you really going to stick with it? We have enough things in life we don’t want to do. Why add to that list?
To be honest, it doesn’t matter what you do for fitness, just get moving. I know this sounds odd coming from someone who advocates for resistance training. Yes, building muscle benefits you in so many ways, but it’s more important to me that you just do something. Anything that will keep you motivated and engaged. We can work on the resistance training thing later. 😉
Find something you like to do and it just might turn into something you love. Something is always better than nothing.
Set Your Workouts Earlier in the Day
The earlier the better. After a long day of work or chasing toddlers around, sometimes the last thing you want to do is hit the gym. And with so many things we are responsible for throughout the day, it’s very easy to skip workouts in favor of something else.
Think about how you feel in the morning. Now think about how you feel near the end of a busy day. Some folks are more productive later in the day and that’s great. But if you are not one of those people, I would try to make your workout one of the first things you do on your workout days, if not the first.
Doing something you’ve committed to at the beginning of the day sets the tone for the rest of the day. Just try it. Tell me you don’t have a better day afterward.
Use Guilt as a Tool
You know that feeling you get when you think about skipping a workout? Now, how do you feel when you actually do skip that workout?
Yeah, it sucks, doesn’t it? Use that to your advantage!* Following through with your workout even when you don’t want to will make you feel far better than shrugging it off completely.
Go ahead, drag yourself to the gym and give your workout a fair chance. If you find that halfway through you’re still not feeling it, it’s okay to let yourself off the hook. Just try not to make it a regular thing.
It happened to me today:
— Amy Hughes (@muscleMATTERSah) March 24, 2017
I followed through, and I feel much better for it. It set a motivating tone for the rest of the day. Now I’m sitting here crafting this masterpiece. 😉
*Disclaimer: If you’re working out every day, this isn’t for you. Rest days are your friends. Don’t put any more unnecessary stress on yourself than you already do.
Get a gym buddy. Sounds trite, I know. But if you commit to going to the gym at a certain time, it’s more likely to happen if you have a friend there waiting for you.
Preferably a no-nonsense friend that eats weakness for breakfast and doles out disapproval like it’s their job. If you can find one that also owns a “resting bitch face” and knows more curse words than you, even better. It should definitely be someone you’re scared of. Not serious. Kinda serious.
Another option is hiring a trainer. If you are absent a friend such as the one referenced above, a trainer will work just as well. Wouldn’t you be more likely to show up if you’re paying money for it? Me too.
As a final option, you could keep a fitness journal. There are online fitness forums where you can create a journal and have like-minded people share their input.
As an alternative, keep a private journal at home. Writing down when you worked out and how much you did is a good idea. It enables you to look back and see how long it’s been since you were in the gym last, giving you the opportunity to use your new tool guilt accordingly.
Have a Contingency Plan
While it’s preferable to have a set lifting routine–or whatever routine works for you–it’s a good idea to have a backup plan in case something doesn’t work out.
If for some reason you can’t make it to the gym, get outside and walk, take the kids to the park, or do some basic body-weight exercises at home.
Having a contingency plan dispenses with the temptation to throw your hands up in exasperation, declaring that you can’t work out. Yes you can.
I Love it When a Plan Comes Together
- If you feel motivation waning, scale back on all the goals and whittle them down to 1 or 2 right now
- Find a fitness plan that interests you
- Set your workouts as early in the day as possible
- Embrace the power of guilt
- Find a (mean) friend to go to the gym with you, hire a trainer, or keep a fitness log
- Have a backup plan for your fitness plan
Your Master Plan is all set; you just have to implement it. Use these tools the next time you feel like giving up. If you have something to add to the list, please do. I would love to know what works for you when you feel yourself falling off the wagon. We can always do with a little more motivation!