Lost your enthusiasm to exercise? Here's what you need to do.
You know what it's like—The temperature drops and so too does all eagerness to exercise. Seasonal celebrations see you switching hearty homemade stews for finger food and hot cider, and evenings which were once spent flowing through sun salutations are now consumed by stuffing stockings and devouring selection boxes.
It's not uncommon to experience a dip in motivation from time to time, particularly during winter, but cool weather isn't the only cause. In fact, a lack of motivation can be triggered by many factors, including stress, sleep and nutrition, and often they influence one another.
"When we're stressed it's easy to push our workouts to one side," says Cassie Day, strength coach, holistic nutritionist and founder of All Day Fit. "Lack of sleep also has a profound influence over our self-control. Those late night, fast food dinners are often a result of being too tired and having less willpower to resist the temptation. Having good self-control requires a lot of effort, which wilts away when you are sleep deprived."
Here, nine easy ways to regain—and keep—motivation to maintain your health kick.
1. Set goals that stick
When it comes to improving wellbeing, a goal is what will keep you in the game when you feel like walking away. Aesthetic aims are an OK place to start, however, it's likely they'll only take you so far. A performance-focussed goal, on the other hand, may see you stick to your regime even when times get tough. "To be completely honest, a lot of clients come to All Day Fit with aesthetic-focused goals," says Cassie. 'However, within a few weeks they have added in a strength goal. This is because as they learn to prioritize recovery and fuel themselves properly they experience increases in strength and improvements in performance, and that acts as motivation in itself." Ensure any goals set are realistic, though, as any which aren't achievable could act as a demotivator.
2. Fail to plan, plan to fail
Once you've set your goal you need a plan of action: A route to success, if you will. This could be developed with the help of a personal trainer or nutritionist and should map out the steps required for you to achieve your desired goal. Being able to visualize what is required of you in order to succeed will make the goal seem manageable, and smaller, interim goals—such as mastering a new move or increasing the number of vegetables eaten per day – will inspire you to keep going. "It's really important to track your progress," says Cassie. "When you track your workouts you notice the small wins, and it's those that motivate you to come back next week stronger."
3. Prep like a boss
You've been there before: You forgot to pack your gym pants, you worked late and missed your yoga class, your meeting ran over so you ate a takeaway lunch al-desko. Instead, consider implementing a few simple organizational tricks to make maintaining your plan much easier. "Set aside time every Sunday to sit down and schedule your workouts for the week ahead," Cassie advises. "Treat these as the most important appointments in your calendar so you won't skip them." Meals prepped in advance can save you from splurging on Big Macs and microwave meals, and laying your kit out the evening before a class can prevent any last minute panics.
4. Treat yourself
If you have a plan in place and your lunches prepped yet you're still struggling to stick to your programme, try giving yourself an incentive. Perhaps it's a particularly indulgent dessert after a week of gruelling workouts, a new piece of clothing, or even a trip abroad. Assign a treat to every goal—big and small—and be sure to follow through with the reward when you achieve them.
5. Take care of number one
Whether it comes naturally to you or not, try making your well-being your number one priority. Why? Because when you're well-rested, well-fed and worry-free, you're more likely to feel motivated to pursue your goals. "Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day," Cassie suggests, which is key for developing a healthy sleep pattern. Pay particular attention to stress levels, making a conscious effort to unwind in whichever way suits you best, and be sure to consume high-quality foods that aren't over-processed.
6. Couple up
Sometimes, when motivation wanes, even pre-scheduled classes and a packed gym bag aren't enough to keep you from wanting to cancel. In those instances, phone a friend. "Schedule workouts with a buddy," says Cassie. "It's a lot easier to cancel when you're only accountable to yourself, but when you've agreed to go with a friend you typically don't want to let them down."
7. Switch it up
Routine is great for results but can get tiresome from time to time. If your fitness or meal plans are becoming boring, consider trying something different. Attending new classes, experimenting with exercise variations and trialling new recipes might just help to pull you out of your funk, prevent you from plateauing and find your fire to train again.
8. Do you
Whether it's listening to a podcast, dancing to beats by your favourite DJ or re-reading a particular inspirational quote, if there's something that stimulates you—no matter how small or unusual—make time for it, and it may just alter the course of your day. "I blast music and creep J-Lo's Instagram when I need a bit of motivation," says Cassie.
9. Be honest
If you aren't up to training or are craving a treat meal, ask yourself why and respond with an honest answer. Is there an issue that needs addressing, such as stress, an illness or lack of sleep, or are you simply making excuses for yourself? Knowing the root cause will help you rectify any problems and prevent a similar situation from arising again.