10 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Make it to the Gym.
There are many reasons why we don’t achieve results at the gym; not working to a high enough intensity, poor programming, wasting time on social media, but one of the key obstacles for most is managing to turn up in the first place!
Here are my top tips for finding your motivation and making it to the gym.
Schedule in your workouts.
Look ahead and build the gym into your weekly routine by planning exactly when you will go. Putting your gym visits in your diary just as you do with meetings, social events and other appointments will help you mentally prepare and ensure that exercise remains a priority.
Eat to train
On days when you plan to exercise make sure your diet supports your training. Eat breakfast, drink enough water to keep you hydrated and make sure lunch isn’t too heavy as this can make you tired. Avoid processed foods throughout the whole day, particularly those will added sugar; these will mess with your energy levels so exercise will be the last thing on your mind.
Manage the practicalities and obstacles
Taking your kit to work will make life easier and will help keep you mentally prepared. Get your gym clothes ready the night before to take with you or if you must go home first then have your clothes laid out ready. Make sure nothing stops you in your tracks; don’t sit down or turn on the TV, avoid getting caught up in conversation, just get changed and go. If at work your colleagues invite you for coffee, drinks or dinner, politely decline and arrange to join them on another occasion.
When planning your visits to the gym make sure your expectations and your intentions are manageable and that you can stick to them. Don’t plan more than is achievable for you at this time. Creating a routine that is easier to stick to will ensure you keep it up, and will give a feeling of success as opposed to failure. It will then be easier to up your visits as you see fit.
Let others know
Friends and family can often put a spanner in the works with last minute social invitations and other demands. Let family members, friends and work colleagues know about your new routine. Make it clear that at certain times you will be going to the gym and don’t be afraid to ask for support from those around you if you feel you need it. And if there are some who try to discourage you by offering temptation or by mocking your new and improved healthy lifestyle ignore them! They probably just feel worse about themselves when you are doing what they cant do.
Find an exercise buddy
Working out with a friend or partner can help to keep motivated and committed. By relying on each other it becomes more difficult to slack as you are letting someone else down as well as yourself. Exercising with another can be fun; you can support and motivate each other and create some healthy competition. Try setting similar goals or entering fitness challenges together.
Change your thought process
The more you tell yourself that you don’t want to do something the more you reinforce that thought. Be ready for excuses and negative thoughts by preparing thoughts that motivate you. Find what works for you whether that be visualising yourself having achieved your goal or imagining how you will feel afterwards if you do or don’t go. Find whatever works for you, and be as kind or as tough on yourself as you need to be. As soon as you start talking yourself out of going by telling yourself you are tired, can't be bothered, or by promising yourself that you will go tomorrow use your motivating thoughts to encourage or, if necessary, to force yourself to get going.
Set some goals and clarify triggers
The most powerful key to success is goal setting, without goals we lose focus and motivation. Take some time to sit and map out your goals. Write them down or use visualization. Imagine yourself as you want to be and define the reasons you wish to change, whether that be to live longer, feel better about yourself, wear clothing that you feel you cant at present or to attract someone to you; whatever your reason, keep it in the forefront of your mind.
Rather than just focusing on how you want to look, set some fitness challenges in and outside of the gym. Choose an area in which you would like to develop fitness and set goals around that. For example, a popular challenge is a 5/10k run. There's lots of information out there to support progress and even apps to guide you (check out Couch to 5k). If you are keen to develop strength then setting yourself some goals surrounding this is a huge motivator. Your goal could be centered around achieving a number of push-ups or pulls ups, or your focus could be on building max strength with the bench press, deadlift or squat (my personal favourite). And dont forget to record your progress so you can look back and see how far you've come.
Be good to yourself
By this I do not mean eat a cream cake. Every trip to the gym is an achievement and you should revell in the moment. Be proud of yourself for doing something that many intend to do but still don’t! Remember this good feeling when you need motivation in future.
Buy into the whole process
Sometimes when we do something because we feel we should rather than because we want to we feel a resistance towards the task. Instead of reluctantly dragging yourself to the gym and then begrudgingly eating a salad when you would rather have pizza, set yourself some health and fitness goals and enjoy working towards them. Enjoy the challenge of pushing yourself and enjoy learning about new and nutritious foods and how they help your body function at it’s best. Keep your finger on the pulse of health and fitness news online and in magazines. Buy yourself some gym clothes that make you feel and look the part. Hold onto the feeling of being in control of your life as opposed to being weak-willed and unhealthy.
If on reading this you feel that you still might struggle with motivation, focus on keeping your goals clear and in the forefront of your mind, keep reminding yourself why you made the decision to start an exercise program and then let these factors drive you towards achieving your goals.
Louise Appel Personal Trainer, St John's Wood & Personal Trainer Maida Vale offers customised, individual Personal Training and Pilates at Lords Cricket Ground, St John's Wood. Personal Trainer Harpenden & Personal Trainer St Albans is located at EsTR Fitness.