Keeping Fit – Staying Motivated

So, how are you all doing, no doubt many of you started a fitness regime in the New Year and now its crunch time. Have you kept to it? Are you still motivated? How can you keep it up?

It can be difficult, work and family commitments get in the way, the weather isn’t great, the days are still short and you have learned to live with the extra few pounds put on over Christmas, but don’t give up now. Staying motivated is difficult, but you’ve put in a month of work to develop a base to work from so stick with it. Hopefully this article will provide you with a few tips for staying motivated.

Record your Training
Athletes record their training so that they can track their progress and find out what works for them. Now, i’m no athlete and you might not be either so you may think that recording your exercise sessions isn’t necessary, but it all helps with the motivation. It is all too easy to miss a run because it is pouring with rain or not go for a swim because it is cold and dark outside and there is something on TV that looks interesting. Such things are fine, but before you know it you haven’t done any exercise this week, and then that becomes none for two weeks and that’s it, game over your new exercise regime has ended. Keeping a record of what you’ve done makes it easy to look back and see just how good you have been. Lazy weeks are fine, but knowing you have had a lazy week means you can make up for it the next week. Seeing lots of entries in your training diary is a boost and helps keep you motivated to do more.

It is up to you how far you take this, you can use sophisticated fitness training software to analyse your performance, track distances, times, heart rate, diet and much more, or you can just make a note of each session you do in a simple diary / notebook, but keeping some sort of record is a great way to stay motivated.

Spice things up
Fitting training into our busy schedules often means a quick run around the block or local park and doing the same route time and time again can get monotonous. Try to spice things up a bit, plan a run or bike ride somewhere you haven’t been before. Not only will it make you look forward to it, but the new sights will take your mind off the training and make you enjoy the experience.

Alternatively, do something different. if you always just run, then go for a bike ride or a swim. Go to the gym, play squash, anything really. It’ll break the monotony, motivate you and will also work different muscles and maybe teach you new skills. After all, if you can enjoy your exercise then you are going to stick to it.

Spend some Money
Always a good one for me. if I spend some money on a new toy; new running shoes, new bike, heart rate monitor, then I feel compelled to use it. I do of course love gadgets, so getting a new one motivates me to get out there and use it. Once again, it adds a new dimension to the monotony of training and helps me stick with it. It doesn’t have to be a new toy either paying for a gym membership can work just as well.

Train with friends
Training with friends can be a great way to keep you motivated. Once again, it doesn’t have to be full-on training, just taking a friend out for a nice bike ride is enough. First, if you make arrnagements to meet someone to go for a run, bike ride or for a game of squash etc. then it isn’t so easy to just not bother. They are relying on you to be there so whatever the weather and other excuses that may have persuaded you not to go on your own, you;ll still turn up. You’ll enjoy it more with company, and often the comnpetition element will spur you on to work just that little bit harder.

Training with people of varying abilities is good too. If they are a little better than you then you are motivated to try a little harder and being a bit better than someone ele is a great morale booster.

Learn to enjoy it.
It is all to easy to think of your exercise sessions as a chore. But why? No doubt once you are out there doing it you are actually enjoying yourself and the sense of acheivement afterwards makes you feel great. So, why is it a chore. More to the point, however reluctant you are to get out there, it has to be better than work or slobbing in front of the TV. Spice it up, do something you enjoy and excrcise becomes something to look forward to rather than dread.

Join a Club
There are clubs out there for all sorts of sports, joining one can provide you with motivation, new training partners and the ability to learn new skills. Almost all clubs cater for and welcome beginners, so don’t worry about being the slowest. In fact you’ll probably be surprised as there is almost always other beginners, some of whom may be less fit than you, which can be a great motivation boost in itself. And even if you are the slowest then you will be welcomed with open arms/

Think of the benefits
I’m not going to go into the health, weight, physical or physcologial benefits here. We all know them and we are all exercising for one reason or another. But remind yourself of these now and then to keep yourself motivated. It felt worthwhile doing it when you started, so it is still worthwhile now.

Think of the downsides
For some people thinking of the benefits is enough motivation in itself, but thinking of the downsides can be more motivating. Don’t just think of the health risks of not exercising but think of the work you have put in until now. Stopping now will undo all of that just as you are getting to a point where it is starting to do some good. Progress can be slow, especially to start with and building a suitable base takes time, but once you have done the exercise sessions become more enjoyable and the improvements really begin. Don’t stop now and undo what good you have already done.

Set yourself an aim
Your first aim was probably just to do some exercise. Now that you’ve started why not challenge yourself. maybe you could enter a race? Its not as mad as it sounds, most races have entrants with all levels of abilities and having something to aim for can keep you motivated and training hard. if racing isn’t your thing then just set yourself goals to run for a certain distance or time, to cycle a certain number of miles in a week. Having an aim can make it all seem more worthwhile and the feeling of acheivement when you fulfill your aims keeps you going for the next challenge.

So, there you go. No excuses now, get out there, get fit and ENJOY IT.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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