You’ve just started a new exercise routine. You have the trainers, the t-shirt and the water bottle!
You. Are. Ready!
Then a few weeks in you stop. Why?
Is it lack of will power? Lack of motivation?
So then you try again, belittling yourself not to be lazy….
And then a few weeks later……
Lather, rinse, repeat….
I see this struggle regularly. There are the odd exceptions that manage to break the cycle and stay dedicated 24/7/365….but what differentiates them from us? What, if anything, can get a person, and keep them, motivated? How can we break this cycle?
Searching round the internet, Google proudly tells me it found 735,000,000 results on “exercise motivation” in exactly 0.63 seconds…Brilliant! this should be an easy question to answer!
Most of the articles came up with lists along these lines:
- Make a list of the benefits and remind yourself of them frequently!
- Distract yourself by chatting to a friend!
- Have a workout buddy! Gives you a moral obligation to turn up, introduces an element of rivalry to push you harder!
- Listen to uplifting music!
- Get a gadget and monitor your progress!
- Reward yourself!
The trouble is, most of these force you to look outside yourself for motivation – what if your friend doesn’t fancy going that day? What if your battery in your gadget plays up?
Motivation to exercise can be broken down into two categories- motivation for you, and motivation for others
Exercises for others falls down far too often- because an advert says it’s a good idea, or because your friend goes too, can all too often fall at the first hurdle.
Exercise for you offers barriers, but ones YOU control!
Your new years resolution is to “run more”
A fairly common one. Start by asking yourself this question:
What is it that running will get you? What is your end goal?
Do you want to be fitter? Healthier? Slimmer? Happier?
Or is it because of some external pressure that society says you should be healthier, and look like those weird photoshopped things on Instagram?
*Know the difference between your “why”, and someone else’s “why”
What is your why?
2. Do you like running?
Chances are if you don’t, no amount of music, or running with a friend is going to help. So stop there, get your trotters out of those pointlessly expensive trainers and hand them back to the sales advisor.
What would you prefer to do?…(and stop thinking of the gym!)
Dancing?…..Walking?….Cycling?….is there something you have always wanted to try but thought was a little obscure or “I’m too old for that” (Side note, no you’re not) like Parkour, or aerial hoop, or pole dancing, or BMX? Then stop reading this blog and go search for some classes….now…GO?
3. Where are you going to run?
On a treadmill?
Around your neighbourhood?
In a wood/ forest/ mountain/ other natural space?
Personally, if I tell myself I’m going to run on my own in the streets, you will find me at that time sitting on the sofa dressed in running gear with a nice cuppa in my hand – or on a very reluctant, almost pointless, jog.
On a running machine I am ten times worse, 3k in and I’m off and bored and heading for a sauna!
Get me somewhere where I have to respond to the terrain, where the views are epic, and I’m in my element!
4. Who are you going to run with?
Do you prefer running on your own?
With other people?
For me, I dislike running on my own. It’s probably a “lone female” thing – I like to switch off mentally when I run, but if I’m on my own I need to be responsible for my safety, which I can’t do if I am not being present.
I’m not great when running with friends as I always feel rude for not talking (and I breath like an idiot when I run!)
Get me in a local running group though and I am pounding my little socks off using the person in front of me as a pace setter, and the person in front of them as a goal. I’m not running with them out of some moral obligation that if I don’t turn up, they will be disappointed, more this is the running scenario that motivates me, it gives me a visible goal to strive for, the consistency of a time and a place to go to, and (a biggy for me) the safety of a group to run with.
What motivates you depends 100% on you!
And this is the difference between external motivation and internal motivation.
Find your purpose, find your why. Without this it is very very hard to stay motivated. Who cares about fitting into those jeans on a freezing cold morning at 6am! What is it you actually want to achieve?
With purpose, with passion, physical activity becomes less of a chore and more of a means to make you More You! A means to achieving your goals and your bucket list!
So before you think about starting your next health kick, sit down with a pen and paper and ask yourself….Why?