We all want to obtain something of high quality, and we all know that it takes a lot of work. Obtaining our dream physique, hitting a low body fat percentage, and gaining ten pounds of muscle are all examples of goals that take a tremendous amount of work. Throughout the process, it's easy to get off track and start taking steps backwards. Here are my ten tips (ranging from shallow to scientifically proven) to keep you motivated throughout your fitness journey.
Tip #1: Set a Goal
Let's take this tip to another world. You have just been selected to compete in the Hunger Games, and Katniss Everdeen is going to be your trainer, because the bow and arrow is your weapon of choice. You walk into your first day of training, and you are preparing to start target practice. You then proceed to ask her, "what target will we be trying to hit today?" and she replies, "well, we're just going to shoot the arrows with our eyes closed and hope a few of them end up hitting a target." Immediately, you turn and look at her like she's lost her mind, because she has. My point is, going to the gym aimlessly is going to get you nowhere. It is extremely important that we have goals in life, especially when it comes to fitness. Start with small goals that work together to create large goals. Make sure they are SMART goals, too.
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Realistic
T - Time-bound
Pay attention to this: sometimes, SMART goals can be extremely dumb. Make sure you bend the "rules" when it comes to the A (achievable) and R (realistic). Do not allow these to enable mediocre goal-setting. Set a goal that you are unsure of achieving. No goal worthwhile is known with 100% certainty that it can be achieved from the beginning. Test yourself. Be willing to test your limits.
Tip #2: Schedule a Time
Getting things done is extremely difficult to do when there isn't a designated time to complete them. That's why the to-do list on my phone isn't touched much. I have yet to set up a to-do list hour. But I tell you what, my workouts are scheduled. Every single day I look at my schedule and set a time to workout. It is my priority during that time, and I do not allow anything minuscule to ruin that. So find your calendar, pick a time, and stick with it. If you wake up hoping to get a workout in, the chances of you skipping are pretty high.
Tip #3: Keep a Log
Once you have set a goal and picked a time to workout, find a way to track your progress. Fitocracy is a great app that I use to track my workouts and earn points to one-up my friends. Tracking your progress allows you to see yourself approaching your goal in real time. Also, seeing a personal record for an exercise in your log may encourage you to beat it again. If you can't remember the weight because you didn't track it, odds are you won't push yourself as hard. Remember we're not the person aimlessly shooting an arrow, we are the well-shot arrow that moves in a forward direction towards a destination.
Tip #4: Find a Buddy
Humans were not designed to be alone. We were designed to work with each other. Having a workout buddy makes it so much easier to go to the gym when you're not feeling it, especially if you have the right person by your side. Even if you enjoy working out on your own like I do, having someone in your life with the same goals and/or direction in life will benefit you and your fitness journey in so many ways.
Tip #5: Sign a Contract
Making soft commitments to yourself is a cop-out for accepting mediocrity or being scared of success. Tell someone else, and let them hold you accountable. Research shows that we are more likely to accomplish something if we have agreed to it formally and in front of others. A good example is telling your friend this: "Hey, I will pay you $20 every time I miss our workout." If you are an honorable person that stays true to your word, this method will keep you in the gym every day. This brings me to #6 on the list.
Tip #6: Pay Up
This tip applies for people in all walks of life. Whether you are an experienced lifter who has been training for ten years, or someone who has never stepped foot in a Planet Fitness, hire someone. Since most trainers and online coaches have cancelation or minimum commitment policies, you'll feel less inclined to sit on the couch if you have your hard-earned money on the line. And believe me, I understand that hiring someone is a luxury, but I bet that 9/10 times I can find a place in your budget where there is unnecessary spending and I know this: your health shouldn't be lacking because of it.
Tip #7: Remember Who You Could Run Into
This is one of those shallow tips I was talking about. Whenever someone gives us affirmation, it feels really good. While you're having a tough time getting to the gym, remember all of the old friends you could run into. We all know that look on their face when they have something bad to say but they won't say it. So, give them a reason to say something good. Give them a reason to be astonished about what you look like. Give them a reason to say "WOW. You look so good! Have you been working out?" That's when you "modestly" say "Eh, I try to as much as I can." When in reality, you feel great inside because you actually know all of the hard work it takes to achieve the body you have.
Tip #8: Train to Succeed
During your fitness journey, you will appreciate and understand the discipline and sacrifice it takes to reach your goals. I can't help but assume that this will spill over into other aspects of your life. It's like making your bed in the morning. It seems like a silly task, because you'll mess it up again later in the night anyway, but the repetition of completing something morning after morning can help you complete tasks in other areas of life. On the way to reaching your fitness goal, not only will you create very healthy habits, but you will also realize that reaching other goals may seem a bit easier. For example, I think mentally pushing myself to crank out two more reps when I'm near failure, is much more difficult than moving my fingers to answer all the emails that haven't been replied to. Pushing yourself in the gym will make pushing yourself in other areas of life seem much easier.
Tip #9: Get Paid
Research shows that people who were paid $100 to go to the gym doubled their attendance rate. Don't have someone to pay you that much money to workout? It's ok, neither do I. On the bright side, there is an app called Pact that will literally pay you to workout. Well, they don't pay you. The users who miss their workout are the ones that pay up. Rewards can range from $.30 to $5 per week. You can get dinged $5 for missing a workout. That doesn't seem fair, does it? Well guess what. Life isn't fair. Although this seems like a really good way to keep working out, there is something you need to know. If your reason to workout is monetary, you WILL fail. Don't let money be your primary reason to be healthy. Let it be your secondary. Your number one "why" is the most important thing. You must stick to that in order to succeed. It's just like the Ted Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire which says that successful people are successful because their "why" always overcomes their "what."
Tip #10: Be Flexible
Although this is the last tip in the article, it is one of the most important. Being flexible with your routine is extremely important, and it applies to all areas of your health such as diet and exercise. This is true because life can throw curveballs at you every single day. You can only control your environment to a certain extent. Let's say something happened and you had to miss your 90 minute resistance training session at the gym, but you have 30 minutes to go on a run or ride your bike. Use the 30 minutes to get some physical activity. Let's say that you are over your daily allotted grams of fat, but the event you're at only offers red meat and no chicken. Eat the red meat. Don't become a crazy person with your regimen. Stay as consistent as possible, but be willing to break the rules. Additionally, excessively stressing out about your food and exercise can cause your stress hormone to spike, affecting your physique.
Well, there they are. My ten tips for success when it comes to staying consistent. You don't need to apply all of these, but I recommend trying out at least a few, and seeing what works. If there isn't anything you can take away from this article, remember this. You know yourself better than anyone else does. You know your body and you know how it operates. Play around with different strategies, and find what works for you. I hope you enjoyed this article, and I hope that it brings a positive impact to your health and daily life.