We’ve all done it. Taken a day off the gym and all of a sudden the weeks are ticking by. At one point you’d be exercising religiously, missing a day was almost a sin, but now? Life happened and you’re sat on your sofa feeling guiltier and guiltier over your lack of fitness routine. Perhaps you haven’t given up just yet, perhaps you’re on the verge of sacking your exercise routine in all together, lack of motivation and boredom are usually the biggest culprit, so I’ve compiled my top ten tips on how to kickstart your exercise routine and get back on that treadmill.
Take it a week at a time
Get your diary out and plan your week in advance. Can’t make a particular day? Make a note of it and plan to exercise the day before and after. Avoid skipping two days of exercise at all costs (unless you really don’t have a choice). I always find that having a one-day break every now and then is okay, but as soon as I start extending that to two or three days, I really have to push myself to get back to the gym. If you’re into strength training, plan out which days you will train particular muscle groups, or if you like running, plan how far you’ll run on each day.
Buy yourself some new gear
This is my favourite thing to do when I’m lacking motivation for the gym and need a little shove to get back to full-steam. I’ll go out and buy myself new gym clothing, training equipment or some running accessories. There’s just something exciting about new stuff and wanting to show it off at the gym! I guess this can get costly if you lack motivation a lot, but if you buy something new, you have to go and flaunt it right?!
Try something new
Whenever I’m getting bored of the same old routine, or I dread going for a run, I’ll switch things up. Bored of weights? Try an exercise class, there are limitless options after all. Fallen off the treadmill bandwagon? Try cycling or swimming. If you don’t like being confined to the gym, get outside more, row on open water, run through the forest or climb that hill you’ve always seen in the distance. There’s so many different things you can do instead, you just need to find something that’s right for you.
Set a realistic goal
Don’t go giving yourself an unrealistic goal, because you’ll soon lose hope and give up. Set yourself small, but achievable goals with a timescale ranging from a couple of weeks to months. If you end up aiming for a goal and giving yourself a year, you’ll lose sight of it, or get in the “oh well I have an entire year to reach this goal so it can wait another month” mind-frame. For example, if your main goal is weight loss, aim to reduce your weight by 1kg per fortnight instead of 10kg by next summer.
If you lose motivation easily, rewards can help you feel focused. Back to the point above, why not treat yourself every time you reach one of your goals? Treat yourself to something small, like a slice of chocolate cake, or a new lipstick, or work towards something bigger after completing five self-goals. Even though achieving your exercise or weight goals can be enough of a reward for some, for others it can be quite difficult not necessarily seeing or feeling significant changes, so just perk yourself up with a small gift from you to you!
Forget about how fit you once were
If you’ve taken a break from exercise for an extended period, it can be difficult and demoralising accepting that you can no longer do what you once could. Accepting this is the first step towards getting fitter again so make sure you start with baby steps. For example, set the treadmill to a gentle run and aim to run for five minutes. When the five minutes are up, you often find you can actually go that little bit further, and after a week you’ll find yourself running a mile or two with no problems. Starting small will help you find your feet, and allow you to make realistic goals based on your current fitness levels.
Get a fitness tracker
When I felt my exercise routine slumping late last year, I finally invested in a fitness tracker. I wanted to see what my daily routine was like in terms of activeness and how I could improve this. To my surprise, I found I was far less active than I thought, and in terms of steps I was struggling to rack up the recommended 10,000 daily steps. Fast-forward a year and anything less than 15,000 steps daily feels like a failure. My fitness tracker has really helped with numerous things as it reminds me to get up and have a walk about during the day and it measures my heart rate so I can see how my body reacts to certain exercise. If you’re really interested in fitness trackers, see my review here. Overall, my fitness tracker has encouraged and helped me become more active and gone are those lazy Sundays where I’d only manage 4,000 steps.
Numerous studies have suggested that you achieve more when you work out with a friend. I love taking my friends to the gym, or on a run because I feel like I get so much more done. One important point is that you tend to have more confidence with a familiar face by your side. Take a friend to the gym so you can try all the shiny equipment or venture into the weights section, or even go for an outdoor run, experience the fresh air and beautiful scenery whilst chatting away (time passes so much quicker this way).
Find your inspiration
We all have different things that inspire us, and it’s important that you find yours. Ultimately, this could be your desire to feel fantastic on next year’s holiday or it could even be people in your own life that inspire you. Inspiration is what kick-starts our motivation, and without inspiration, I think most of us would end up sitting around all day.
Healthy eating = healthy mind-set
It can be far too easy slipping into bad eating habits, but we’ve all been there. Finding healthy foods that you enjoy eating is crucial to staying healthy and in a good exercise routine. You’ve probably noticed that when you eat healthy, you feel positive and you have more energy, and overall this drives your motivation. This isn’t to say that you have to completely limit eating chocolate or cakes, you’re allowed to treat yourself, and as mentioned earlier, rewards are extremely beneficial too!
These are the tips that I use when I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall, they may work for some of you, or may not work at all. What tips do you have for getting your exercise motivation back?