You worked so hard this summer, but now those baggy sweaters and jackets are back in, it can be difficult to stay motivated and to maintain your swimsuit bod. Individual influences, including demographics, perception of health status, as well as social and environmental influences, all contribute to the ultimate success or failure of adherence to your healthy lifestyle. Check out the following tips to stay consistent this season!
1. Find your “Why?”
Why is adhering to your training program important to you? Typically, those who seek out exercise due to enjoyment of the activity or skill acquisition (internally motivated) are more likely to adhere to a program than those motivated to achieve a certain external appearance (externally motivated). In other words, if you train to acquire a new skill, like the ability to do proper pull ups, then you are more likely to stick with your program than if you are trying to look like a Hollywood celebrity. That being said, working out for superficial reasons isn’t a bad thing. Everyone wants to look good, and looking good is definitely a part of feeling good. Figure out why your training program is important to you, and write it down to remind yourself of it every day.
2. Set Goals
Additionally, those who participate in self-monitoring and goal setting are much more likely to stay consistent with their training than those who don’t. For instance, someone who tracks goals by taking monthly body measurements, recording increased energy and documenting reduced medication use is setting themselves up for success. They won’t be derailed by environmental factors such as seeing unrealistic photo shopped bodies that contribute to poor body image or a spouse that does not have the same lifestyle goals. By tracking your progress you can recognize unhealthy patterns in order to correct them. You know where you’ve started so you can see how far you’ve come. You’re getting positive feedback through goal attainment. Over time, these things may lead to increased self-efficacy (the belief one has in their ability to accomplish the task) and internal motivation. Write down what you’re working towards, figure out how you’re going to measure it, and track your progress.
3. Become Self-Reliant
It won’t matter if the gym is closed or you are snowed in, because you’ll find a way to fit in a workout. Those who allow external factors to dictate their motivation level are setting themselves up for a difficult road to reaching their goal. These folks are more likely to seek support from their social group and their environment will be a greater determinant of their health behavior and ability to achieve change.
Due to the fact that externally motivated people will be more likely to be derailed if their environment does not support their health behavior change, it will be important for them to make decisions that limit exposure to such unhealthy situations. Ideally, you want to do whatever you need to do in order to motivate yourself. This might mean reminding yourself of your “why,” planning out when you will work out that week, or setting a bedtime reminder to assure plenty of sleep before leg day. If you are truly self-reliant and intrinsically motivated, then your best friend bringing over a batch of brownies or your workout partner being a flake will be less likely to derail you.
4. Prepare for Failure
One of the most important aspects of staying motivated is preparing for failure. Adhering to your program is not easy, and chances are that at some point something will go wrong. List out potential roadblocks in your training (for example, a family event, forgetting your headphones, a friends birthday, sustaining an injury etc), then consider how you will deal with these challenges. What actions will you take? What thoughts will you think? Will you resort to negative statements like, “It’s impossible to find time to exercise?,” or will you restructure your thinking to, “I’ll make the changes I need to in order to succeed?”
Changing your way of thinking by changing negative self-talk into positive self-talk takes practice. The key point is to recognize what individual, social, and environmental factors may hinder your motivation. Learn how to deal with things that you cannot change so that they become less of a barrier to you.
Take Home Message
This season I urge you to continue to keep up your progress or to start working out consistently if you haven’t already. By remembering why this consistency is important to you, writing down a specific goal, becoming self-reliant and preparing for failure, you are sure to stay motivated. Do not delay and wait for the New Year to get motivated to train. The time is now for you to become driven and it will make it even easier for you to get in shape for the summer months.