For many of us, getting motivated is easier than staying that way. We get an idea in our heads, it seems worth pursuing, so we rush off to put action to it… only to have our enthusiasm fade after a while. This can happen for a number of reasons: boredom, frustration, difficulty or self-doubt.
Actually, I think the most common cause is probably simply losing sight of our original motivation. Conviction can fade when we forget what motivated us to begin with. This is often the problem in any arena… fitness is no different.
Since motivation is purely a mental thing, we can fix it, right? No need to just “power through it” with pure willpower. Sure, that works for some, but wouldn’t you rather be motivated? It makes tasks a lot more pleasant.
Here are some tips to help you keep your motivation high. They’ll work in just about anything, too – not just fitness.
- Set clear goals
Your goals need to be clear, precise and realistic. It’s no good saying “lose weight” or “get buff”… those aren’t goals. Try “reach 5% body fat” or “add 8 inches to my chest”, instead. Those can be measured and you’ll be able to tell when you reach them.
- Break goals into bites
If you’re trying to get from 13% body fat to 5%, it’ll be a lot easier to keep yourself motivated if you break that up into smaller bites, like 11%, 9%, 7% and 5%. Then you’ll feel like you’re accomplishing something as you hit each milestone. You might even want to make it 1% steps each week. For the same reasons, if you’re out to lose 100 pounds, break that into increments of 10 pounds per week. Each week’s goal will be closer, and the ultimate goal won’t be so intimidating.
- Track your progress
I can’t stress enough how important this is, for many reasons. If you aren’t keeping a detailed journal of your diet and workouts, you’re not taking your fitness seriously, no matter how hard you think you’re working at it. Seeing your incremental progress is also very important to keep your motivation alive. Plus, it’ll help you spot, and quickly work around, plateaus or setbacks.
Dr. Michael Gerrish, a well-known psychotherapist and fitness coach, said “Monitoring your progress will help you determine when and how to make adjustments over time. It will also give you clues about where you might be sabotaging your success.” So keep a detailed journal of your diet, your workouts, your recovery and even how you feel – it’ll come in very handy later, believe me.
- Shoot for excellence
Don’t be satisfied with doing “enough”… making excellence your target for every task will go a long way toward keeping a high level of motivation, not to mention speeding your progress. If you miss a milestone by a little, it isn’t the end of the world. Just put a little more into your efforts. So what if your final muscle building goal takes 12 weeks instead of 10? The important thing is, you achieved it. Little hiccups in our training are normal, so don’t let them get you down… just work through them.
- Take a break
Just as your muscles need a break to recover, your head does too. Make it a point to rest your mind along with your body now and then. Giving yourself a while to focus on something besides your goal will let you get back to it more refreshed and enthusiastic. There’s no sense in burning out either your body or your motivation.
If you put the five tactics above into practice, you’ll find it a lot easier to stay motivated, especially if your goals are really ambitious. They’ll help you get past the little roadblocks and speed-bumps that can shake your confidence and resolution. That gives you more confidence, so it just gets easier and easier to stay motivated.
One method that I used to use when I was starting out in bodybuilding was a friendly competition with a workout buddy. At first, we tried to see who could do the most reps or handle the heaviest load, but we quickly realized that was a bad idea. We started measuring results instead, such as the most body fat lost in a month or the most inches added to our chests.
Since we usually had a bet riding on the results, we both worked mighty hard to beat each other. That’s when I first realized how much your confidence is bolstered by remembering what you’ve accomplished before. It tends to make even the most ambitious goals seem a lot less intimidating.
Vince Del Monte holds an Honors Degree in Kinesiology from the University of Ontario and is a WBFF Pro fitness model. Known as the skinny guy savior, Vince developed the No Nonsense Muscle Building techniques that changed him from a skinny guy in to a national champion fitness model. He shares his muscle building exercises, diets and inspirations on his blog, Vince Del Monte Fitness.