I’ve been exercising consistently for years now, with no more than a two week break during the holidays, before I get right back at it. I’ve had my fair share of struggles along the way, but I’ve developed a core set of strategies to overcome those days where I want nothing more than to laze on the sofa.
Something I see regularly with my clients is them being harder on themselves than they would anyone else around them. Negative self talk is a real issue among the best of us, but the problem is, we think our struggles are exclusive to us. News flash; YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We ALL struggle with motivation, even personal trainers and fitness fanatics! Here are some of the toughest struggles I’ve had to overcome to stay consistent:
Poor mental health: This one is a serious vicious cycle. I know that exercise is a key foundation to good mental health. When I’m consistently active, I’m able to override down days much more effectively and I feel a noticeable difference in my mood. But if I’m already feeling down and having feelings of anxiety, I mainly want to curl up in bed, snack, or snuggle on the sofa watching pointless TV shows. (FYI, these days are okay too! But there are occasions when I KNOW that what I really need is a good sweat)
Tiredness: Working lots of hours or running a business is mentally and physically draining. Sometimes it’s a real slog to do things that we know are good for us.
Time Management: Most days I’m up at 6 training clients throughout the day, and doing admin tasks in between; this leaves small windows of time to workout. Most people will either work or have family commitments that reduce their leisure time.
Bad weather: this feels hard to admit, but let’s face it, the weather can really affect your motivation. And that’s okay!! Looking out of the window and seeing grey skies and rain hardly fills you with excitement to get out and run or go to the gym.
Lacking in confidence: It takes a certain level of confidence to enter a new group class, walk into the gym, or train in public. Many of us feel self conscious at times, and this can be quite a big barrier when having a tough day.
There’s no doubt that on some days, it’s important to go easy on yourself and enjoy that day on the sofa, read your favourite book, or have a nap! I don’t find value in pushing yourself to extremes or feeling guilty when you don’t work out, but being able to overcome certain barriers when you know it will actually help you is a great skill to have.
5 Tips To Help Your Workout Willpower
Embrace rest days
Skipping rest days can be tempting when you’re in the swing of things or if you let guilt set in. If you’re just starting out, you will need more rest days - perhaps three a week for four weeks. If you’re a seasoned trainer, give yourself at least one recovery day per week.
Your muscle’s don’t actually build when you’re training, it’s when you’re resting that the magic happens. Rest days reduce your chance of injury and can actually help drive your gains.
Reduce your workouts to 30 minutes
Time is one huge factor that gets in the way of multiple people’s workout regime. Whether you’re working a 9/5 or you have children to take care of, setting aside over an hour each day might not be realistic. Reducing your workouts to 30 minutes takes the pressure off and you can still make a lot of progress with a well planned session.
Download an app to track your progress
I worked out consistently for around two years and then I started to get a little restless. I needed something I could easily look back on and track my progress; something that didn’t involve writing things down or paying too much attention.
I downloaded Strava and invested in a fitness watch. Both of these together track runs, swims, walks, strength training, and cycling workouts. This means I can look back and feel good about my consistency, plus, I have a barometer to help me continue to push past my own limits and get fitter, faster and stronger.
Sometimes the best way to cultivate mental strength is to ‘just start’. Just start it and see how you go. Dive into your usual stretching and warm up routine and see how your body feels as you go. If you decide that’s all you’re doing today, then fine! If not, you might just end up enjoying it and continuing..
Get a workout buddy
This is one of the most solid ways to help me get moving. Start working our regularly with a friend, colleague or family member, and their motivation will drag you along on days when you’re lagging. It goes both ways; you can also help motivate them when they need your energy. It’s a great way to stay accountable, create deeper bonds with people close to you and it often spreads into other areas of your relationship. Before long, you’ll both be encouraging each other to eat healthily when you meet for lunch… It's a win win.