Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Figuring out to stick to your training program is tough. Crushing your goals, one step at a time like a champion you are.
1. Focus on simply getting yourself to your workout.
Instead of worrying about the actual workout—how hard it may be, or how tired you think you’ll feel afterward—concern yourself with the sole logistical task of getting there.
“Once you are there, you will feel so much better just in the fact that you make the effort to get there,” says expert. This mini boost will more often than not give you the mental push you need to then start your workout.
2. Be patient and play the long game.
You put in hard work at the gym for a week and are then bummed when you can’t yet do a perfect push-up. In reality, though, depending on your current fitness level, perfecting the push-up may take weeks or even months of hard, consistent work. This disconnect between expectation and reality can be seriously demotivating.
A better approach is to acknowledge that lasting changes don’t come overnight, and that by being patient throughout the process, you will see results in the long run. Remind yourself of this any time you start to feel antsy for results. Good things take time, especially when it comes to fitness.
3. Ditch your all-or-nothing mind-set.
The all-or-nothing approach to exercise is common, Stephanie Mansour, Chicago-based certified personal trainer, tells SELF. People either believe that they have to do a workout exactly how they imagined it—a full 60-minutes of high-intensity work at 6 A.M., for example—and if any element of that plan falls apart (they wake up at 6:30 instead of 5:30, for instance), they’ll throw in the towel completely.
The problem with this black-and-white thinking is that having impossibly rigid standards doesn’t allow for any adaptation when life gets in the way. And it’s going to. When our too-high standards aren’t met, it leads to “a lot of discouragement and feeling overwhelmed,” explains Mansour.
4. Accept that fact that you won’t always want to work out. And that’s totally normal and OK.
Even the most motivated of exercisers will have days when they just really don’t want to hit the gym, Mark DiSalvo, NYC-based certified strength and conditioning specialist, tells SELF. On those days, avoid judging yourself and/or reading too much into your waning motivation. This aversion is completely normal, adds Scantlebury, and understanding that up front can help you embrace those difficult feelings and move past them, rather than internalizing them or viewing them as signs of weakness.
5. Start with something easy.
Another trick that helps on days when you’re struggling with motivation is to lessen the intimidation factor by telling yourself that you’ll start easy. Do a longer warm-up, suggests DiSalvo, and then slowly build from there. If you want to run on the treadmill for 20 minutes, for example, tell yourself you’ll just do 1 minute to start, and then after completing that quick goal, reassess how you’re feeling. If you’re up for it, try another minute. From there, reassess again and try for another minute. Continue this pattern to build confidence in your abilities and ease yourself into a workout.
6. Try not to compare yourself to other people.
Don’t compare yourself to other fitness freak and gym enthusiast. Why ? It’s easy to watch someone bust out a set of single-leg deadlifts with ease, for example, and then feel resentful, intimidated, and/or discouraged over the fact that you can’t yet do one. But you’re likely not considering the fact that they too were new to single-leg deadlifts at one point, and probably put in a lot of hard work to get to their current fitness level. Plus, there are so many other factors that can constitute a person’s fitness level that it’s never productive to make assumptions.
7. Embrace the small wins.
Maybe your goal is to hold a plank for two minutes, and two weeks into your new workout routine, you’ve improved your ability from 20 seconds to 30 seconds. Even though you haven’t yet achieved your goal (and perhaps your goal still feels a long ways off), take pride in reaching this mini milestone along the way.
Jenny McCoy, SELF. 2020