The Power of Motivation


Motivation is a powerful tool. When it comes to fitness, it seems that the people who are most successful are those who really know how to motivate themselves. Motivation means really understanding how YOU work: What is really going to make YOU make a change in your life? What techniques are going to resonate best with you?It is also important to really sit down and ask yourself, why am I not exercising? What is getting in my way? Identifying your roadblocks is the first step to eliminating them.

Carla Sottovia works for the Cooper Fitness Institute in Dallas as their assistant director. WebMd published an article in which Sottovia was interviewed about fitness motivation.“We may have had a bad experience in school, or maybe we’re afraid we’ll hurt ourselves,” says Sottovia. “Maybe they’re even afraid to sweat.”Everyone has their own reasons for skipping exercise. This is where motivation comes in. Knowing an effective way to get yourself moving is the best way to help you stop making excuses. There are several things you can do to help yourself move past this.

WebMD also interviewed Gerald Endress, fitness director of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N.C., about effective motivation techniques.

“Another pitfall is all-or-nothing thinking, a perfectionist way of looking at life that leads to giving up when you miss a day or two or your workout doesn’t go well,” says Endress. “If you accept going in that there will be some sidesteps on your fitness journey, you’ll be better mentally prepared to deal with setbacks.”

The first thing to keep in mind when trying to motivate yourself is that you need to be realistic. Perfection is impossible and setting unrealistic goals will just frustrate you even more.

Jennie Wojtas is a student at the University of Illinois who runs for her school’s club triathlon team. Wojtas agreed that it is best to work at your own pace.

“You cant go fast all the time,” says Wojtas. “It is important to remember to take slow days because otherwise you can get injured.”

Wojtas agrees that those who tend to stick with a workout plan are those that don’t beat themselves up over the small stuff.

“So what, you missed the gym once, or a few times, this week,” says Wojtas. “What matters is that you are consciously working toward a healthier and better you.”

Nicole Janik is a student at the University of Illinois as well. Janik has completed a half marathon and uses goal-oriented thinking to motivate her exercise habits.

“I make a list of goals that I want to achieve at the end of the semester and post them right above my desk so that when I wake up in the morning I can see what I am working for and that drives me to accomplish a little of that each day,” says Janik.

Look to families and friends you admire and let them be your inspiration to work hard toward whichever goal you have in sight.

“I look at my parents and know that someday I can achieve all they have if I have the right mind-set,” says Janik.

It’s also extremely important to forget about comparing yourself to others: your friends, your family, other girls you see at the gym. You do not have the same eating habits, the same genes, the same time commitments; you will never look just like them. Focus on you, and you will save yourself a lot of time.

“Don’t compare yourself to them,” says Endress. “Forget about them, forgive them, but do not let them deter you from your goal.”

Turn to your family and friends (your good friends) for support. These should be people whom you love and care about who will do their part to make sure you stay on track. The people you spend the most time with will be most crucial to your success.

Another factor that will be crucial to your success is how much you enjoy your current fitness activity. Do you hate running? Do you despise the elliptical? Then don’t do pick those workouts!

There are so many fun ways to exercise and there is no need to hate your workout. You are also much likely to lose motivation when you are dreading your workout.

Do yourself a favor and find something that you love to do. Try out yoga, group fitness classes, join a running club, try at-home workout videos, use free weights, just get moving!

“I also think that working out in a fun way or training for something can provide motivation, too,” says Wojtas. “If I feel like I need a little extra oomph in my workout routine because I’m starting to get too bored with it, I sign up for a fun class.”

Setting goals that are ambitious, but realistic, can be a strong incentive for you to get more out of exercising.

“Signing up for a fun race, like the color run, or a warrior dash, or if you are feeling extra ambitious a MARATHON, are also great ways to keep yourself motivated and working towards a goal,” says Wojtas.

Not everyone can exercise for an hour straight, especially those of us that get bored very easily. Good news: you don’t have to.

“You can make it easier on yourself by splitting your exercise session into two or three sessions,” says Endress.

You can exercise every day for 30 minutes. Spend more time working out on days when you have more free time to make up for your busiest days. Break down your schedule in a way that works for you.

“Do whatever you can to remove obstacles to exercise, and make it as convenient as possible,” says Sottovia.

This means you need to prepare for your workouts. Lay out your workout gear, set your alarms, create a workout schedule and figure out how you’re getting to the gym.

These things may seem pointless, but when you have less reasons NOT to go to the gym, you’re much more likely to actually end up following through with your commitment to workout.

Once you do get into an efficient schedule, it is important to chart your progress. Keep track of how much you are working, how the exercise moves are affecting your body. When you acknowledge the changes your body has made, you are much more likely to continue putting effort into maintaining that change.

Reward yourself! Buy some new workout gear, take a bubble bath or share your progress with others.

“Reward yourself for making the effort to exercise,” says Endress. “Not with a piece of chocolate cake, but something such as a movie or flowers.”

“I find that I am just a happier person overall if I manage to get my workouts in,” says Wojtas. “I am more alert, awake, organized, retain more from my classes, make better choices throughout the day, and am more positive; I think that is my greatest motivation.”

Still lacking the motivation you need? Just sit back and remind yourself WHY you are working out in the first place.

It boils down to this concept of productivity.  All successful people realize that time is the most precious commodity that’s out there.  It’s the one thing you can’t buy or ever buy back.  Going through the motions is the most disadvantageous thing you can do.  You can say to yourself: I went to the gym today and I’m better off because of it.  But the question you have to ask yourself is what did I do in the gym today and how did you do it?

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