Motivation: How to get it back and keep it for good
In this article, I want to talk about motivation – something that most of us struggle with in some form or another on an almost daily basis. The reason I want to focus on this is that; even if you did make all the right changes and choices initially if you are not motivated in the right way, it could all fly off-track again in the blink of an eye.
Motivation is often both the key to success and the reason for failure for most tasks but none more so than your health and fitness.
How to Keep Yourself Motivated
It may sound obvious but, what is ‘motivation’?
Motivation: “a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.”
Your motivation for training and eating well should be your end goal, if you don’t have any goals it is going to be very difficult to find your reason to get out and exercise or start cooking from scratch.
I often get asked what my motivation for training is, and I have a number of them.
Sometimes I have something very specific to train for, like the Ultra Marathon I ran earlier in the summer of 2018, or when I competed as Sprinter and now I am aiming to compete at Olympic Lifting. Setting yourself a very specific goal can be a great way to motivate yourself, it could be anything – a Tough Mudder, Three Peaks Challenge – do some googling and find something really fun and interesting that will challenge you in ways you have never been challenged – don’t just sign up for a marathon like everyone else!
Other times I am not training for anything specific, but I still maintain my active and healthy lifestyle, this is the kind of situation that a lot of people struggle to keep motivated! So the big question is, how do I stay motivated at these times?
How I keep my motivation high
There are two main reasons that keep me motivated to train and eat well.
To have no regrets
I am very aware that I won’t always be in the prime of my life – both physically and mentally. The last thing I want is to suddenly get old and realise I wasted the prime of my life abusing my body and neglecting self-care. Whilst I can, I want to see what my body is capable of, to reach my full potential in every aspect of my life.
Maintaining something is easier than trying to get it back
Type 2 Diabeties, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, hip replacements, not being able to move properly are now perceived as an inevitability of old age… but they aren’t. Most of the issues that crop up in old age are down to poor lifestyle choices compounded over time. By looking after yourself in the short term, you are giving yourself an advantage in the long term, drastically decreasing the risk of developing the issues above. I plan on maintaining my levels of strength, fitness and mobility to the best of my ability well into old age, there is no reason why you can’t either!
My Top Tips for Staying Motivated
Set Yourself a Goal or Reason
Your goal/Reason should be positive and personal to you. Doing anything for negative reasons is never going to be sustainable and don’t just copy your friend’s goals! (A negative reason for training/eating well would be weight loss).
Remember Your Reason
There will be moments when you lose motivation and find reasons not to continue working towards your goal. In these moments you need to focus on the reasons why you started in the first place and remember that moments like this can determine how you approach many aspects of your life. Are you going to be the person that quits when it gets difficult? Or are you going to be the person that finds inner strength and continues on regardless of the situation? Ultimately the choice is yours.
Focus on how you feel
When I was training as a sprinter, there would be moments when I wouldn’t want to go to training after a long day of back to back clients, being active all day. Usually, the thing that got me to the session was knowing how good I would feel after the session. Exercise releases feel-good hormones called endorphins, it’s a natural anti-depressant. So, if you are feeling low and tired, it’s the one thing that will make you feel better.
Remember that motivation is a skill
Motivation isn’t a gift that some people have, and some people don’t. It’s something that has to be constantly worked on, like any skill. At first, you will be terrible at motivating yourself, and it will be a big effort. However, over time you get better at this skill and it becomes easier to motivate yourself and to persist.
Learn to enjoy the process
Once you start enjoying the process of living well and practising self-care, it will become a way of life. You won’t even need much motivation to continue on with it because you enjoy the process, rather than focusing on the end goal. This point is crucial, if you are only eating well and exercising because you don’t like the way you look, you will see living well as a punishment and never learn to enjoy it.
Time to get motivated… about your motivation!
Remember, you are in full control of your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, it just takes that realisation for it to come into fruition. You have the capability to be the most motivated person out there, it just takes a little persistence practice. Like with any new skill it will at first be difficult, but as you start to practice it becomes easier and easier until it is your default setting. Give yourself the best start by following the above steps and finding your positive, personal goal.