Sunday, 8 July 2012

Get motivated and stay motivated // Fitness & Health

One thing I struggle with is motivation, particularly in relation to exercise. I'll be the first to admit it, but I'm lazy. I've never liked exercise and I've never liked sport - I was the girl at school who always 'forgot' her kit for PE, and whilst other kids got competitive on sports days, I just wanted to sit it out. 
These days I'm forcing myself to stay fit, but admittedly, have fallen off the wagon this year due to the single most stressful and time consuming year of my life (uni)! Now that my exams are over, I'm back on it with a vengeance. This is what works for me, and these are the techniques I use to get myself off of the sofa and pumping in the gym. Obviously everyone is different, but I hope you find these tips helpful and somewhat motivating! (Remember this doesn't have to be exclusive to gym users, you can exercise at home for free)!

Also, whilst we're on the topic, do check out my old and forgotten basic work-out tips post!

Pic by Dan @ Two-D

Getting off the sofa
This can be the hardest part. I find it helpful to simply visualise myself at the gym, and remember that awesome feeling when I’ve finished a workout, and then I remind myself that I have never come out of the gym feeling worse. This is true for everybody, I’m sure of it. You’ll always feel better after a workout than before – Have you ever regretted working out? Probably not. But if you’re like me you’ve often regretted sitting at home contemplating it rather than getting off my sorry arse and chasing the adrenalin rush.  This is worth thinking about when you fancy a pyjama day for the 4th day running, (guilty)!

Find motivation in others
I have this tumblr bookmarked. Pictures like this and this instantly remind me that a workout only actually works if I do it – And I’ll get up and do something. Gillian Michaels has PCOS, as do I and is living proof that the inevitable weight gain can be beaten – Her 30 day shred DVD has motivation in the form of killer abs right in front of you as she lunges with perfect form, (and I’m struggling with a face resembling beetroot). Once I’m at the gym, I see those who can bang out an hour on the treadmill with a back full of sweat, and I’m motivated by them. I see guys lifting weights way beyond their limit, grunting and puffing, and I’m strangely motivated by them too.

This can take some time, but just try to go to the gym at the same time on the same days, that’s pretty basic. I tend to go in the morning so its over and done with, and I feel energized for the rest of the day, and to prevent day-to-day happenings from distracting me. As well as that, form a habit and pre-pack all your gear. I have a bag that is always packed and ready to go before I change my mind.
I also find it helpful to schedule gym trips into my diary/to-do lists and tick them off as I go. I’m a list-making freak and I really do get off on ticking things off the list. 

Trick yourself and change your mindset
The mind is a powerful thing, and although I can’t tell a lie to save my life, I can trick myself so well. This is something I learnt about myself from past relationships, and is something I use also for public speaking, (I’ll somehow pretend to be confident and happy to be there, argh). First of all, get excited about working out and see it as your reward – You’re on your way to looking amazing! Secondly, even if you’re not the best, just tell yourself you are, and pretend to be. When you’re ready to die during a run, just tell yourself that you are not tired, and keep going. If you don’t like the gym, or you don’t like running, just tell yourself that you do and change your mindset. Eventually you’ll imprint that into your central nervous system like a memory, and you might just begin to enjoy it for real. I know it sounds a bit stupid, but it really is mind over matter.

‘One more minute’
This is something I find myself doing at the gym all the time. I am (not) a runner. After 5 minutes I’m ready for a break, but I just won’t allow it to myself, and use the above technique, (if you can call it that), combined with this one. ‘Just do one more minute,’ and when that minute is coming to an end, ‘that wasn’t hard, just one more!’ and then somehow, I’ll have doubled my time and I’ll feel like I’ve really pushed the boundaries. I also do this if I’m listening to music too, ‘just one more song!’

Distract yourself in order to focus, but don’t let distractions get in your way!
This is a really funny one, but by making simple changes to make sure you don’t distract yourself, you can go for longer. Tie your laces in a double knot, tie your hair out of your face, wear comfortable underwear and gym wear, and especially, invest in a decent sports bra. If I forget hair slides, my fringe tends to annoy the hell out of me and I just can’t get into the zone, so just prevent it from happening. 
By distracting yourself to focus, I mean use something to take your mind off the seconds/distance/whatever. My gym is overlooking a ski/snowboarding slope so whilst I’m on the treadmill I tend to watch them, or watch the person in front of me running – and in my head try to keep up with, or compete with them. Music is a great one especially for running, I tend to follow the beat.

Don’t skimp on your gym essentials for the sake of space
I don’t like constantly packing and unpacking, its time consuming and boring. Therefore I have a bag of toiletries kept in my gym bag at all times, for an easier life. However, when really listening to myself I came to notice that actually, the thing I hate about the gym is getting ready afterwards. I love their showers and actually look forward to using them, but I’d been using a shampoo that I’d otherwise rejected to use at home because it didn’t smell great. I also took some other rejected body cream which I didn’t really like the smell of from a past secret santa gift. I’d leave the gym with frizzy hair, smelling like an old woman, and as I caught sight of myself in my car rear view mirror, all elated feelings were squished. I figured I was going to shower more at home than at the gym so kept all my ‘good’ stuff at home, despite having 2 of everything. This seems crazy now - I was setting myself up for not going often!
So I swapped things around - I’ve popped some more basics in my gym bag; heat protector, hair mousse, hair oil, my favourite Body Shop body butter, a few basic make up pieces, and some decent shampoo and conditioner. And that’s all it took – Now the gym is also a mini pamper session and I’ll leave looking like ‘me.’

Make your goals SMART, and they will be easier to visualise and achieve:

Specific – Be specific in what you want. Saying you want to improve fitness isn’t specific enough. For example I want my resting heart beat back after 1 minute of exercise, at the minute it takes a lot more than that. I also want to lose 8lb of the weight that I’ve gained.
Measurable – Take a ‘before’ picture and, take your own measurements, measure your heart rate and how it changes and adapts to exercise after 10 minutes of cardio? There are loads of ways. 
Attainable – It’d be silly for me to want to lose 3 stone because, really, I’ve never been that slim and thus it’s not likely to be attainable. The goal needs to be within your reach.
Realistic – I want to lose 8lb, pronto, promising myself more might be a little too much and will seem beyond my realistic grasp. To make it realistic though, I’ll spread that out. I’d also like to go to the gym 6 days a week, but realistically, with my other lifestyle dedications, it’s not likely. I’ve settled on 4 times a week which is a healthy number of times a week and allows for rest. 
Time – 8lb can be realistically lost within 4 weeks, so I’ll give myself 4 weeks to lost that 8lb.

And there we have it!
Now what have you got to lose?

Do you have any amazing motivation tips?

S xx


  1. Great post! I often find motivation an issue as well. I'm not a part of a gym, I just exercise at home just now until I have the money to join one but I'll definitely be using these tips anyway, especially the one more minute one! ;)

  2. This was a great post to read. I don't go to the gym but I do take part in other activities. It's become a routine now for me, which is much easier than trying to drag myself out spontaneously. Great tips x

  3. This was a really good post idea, I think we all need a bit of extra motivation at times! I am one of those people who always plans to exercise, but when it comes down to it I have a real battle with myself to get going.I always feel great afterwards though and I actually find that the more tired and lethargic you feel beforehand (and less like doing anything) the more it benefits you.
    Mel x

  4. Great post, i will be sure to use some of these tips in the future

  5. This is such a great post Sarah! I really do need to sort out my fitness routine, the weight would come off so much easier!

  6. this post is amazing! im just starting running again after hurting my album, once you get into a routine its a lot easier!

  7. Great tips!
    I trained for a half marathon last year (Team Bangs on the Run!) and since then everything has gone dooowwn hill.
    But, I'm finding was to make it fun again - hoola hoping and yoga seem to work for me! :)

    Samantha xx

  8. I am so easily distracted, by ice cream, pancakes... you name it Lol. This is a great post. I have to stay motivated. And thanks for the extra push on twitter.

  9. I love this - and I totally agree with the whole 'one extra minute' theory, saying only one more minute is definitely more stomach-able than 'just 20 more minutes'!

    Also the idea of takign good stuff to the gym - I really do that and it does make me want to go more, because I basically give myself a spa day after I've worked out. I always put on a hairmask and pin my hair up then go sit in the jacuzzi for 10 minutes as well, which means that my muscles get a wee bit of respite the next day and I'm getting a conditioning treatment in!

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