1. Find Something You Enjoy Doing. Let’s face it—if you hate something you aren’t going to do it. It doesn’t matter if it is the best exercise program on the plane; if you are dreading every minute you won’t stick with it. Find an activity you will enjoy and look forward to doing, even after your most stressful and exhausting day at work. Physical activity doesn’t have to take place in a gym or have to involve running or weightlifting if those things are unappealing to you. If you are moving, you are exercising—so do what you love: tai chi, dance, hiking, badminton, baseball, yoga…whatever activity keeps you coming back.
2. Make It Social. We will easily break a commitment we’ve made to ourselves. We will make excuses to bail on our own plan. You say to yourself, “It has been such a long day, maybe I’ll skip the gym tonight and go home”. However, we hate to feel like we are letting someone else down, so exercising with a partner or being part of a team increases the likelihood of follow through. If you think someone else is counting on you, you are more likely to show up—even on those days when you are feeling tired and less motivated. If you are part of a fitness class or a running group, get to know the other participants. Adding a social component makes the activity more fun. You look forward to seeing your friends, and you enjoy exercising together, chatting and laughing along the way. If it is fun and social it will feel less like work. and keep you excited for the next session.
3. Feel Good About You Right Now. Sometimes we set a big long-term goal, whether it is aesthetic or performance related, with the notion that we will feel good about ourselves or our bodies once we achieve that goal. We need to shift that focus to feeling good about who we are right now. Embark on this new journey believing in yourself, feeling confident, loving yourself, and embracing your body exactly the way you are. The strong, amazing person that will be there when you reach your goals is the same strong, amazing person you are right now. Feeling good and confident about who you are is going to help you stay motivated and on track, especially through the hard days and the plateaus. And it will make you kinder to yourself along the way.
4. Celebrate the Small Successes. Waiting to reach those long-term fitness goals can be a frustrating and tedious process. Even with hard work and determination, there are times when it feels like the process is occurring at a glacial pace. The key to staying motivated is setting small, step-by-step, performance-based, measurable goals. If your goal is to run a marathon and you can currently only run for a total of 10 minutes, don’t focus on the length of a full marathon, just set a goal of running for 12 minutes, then 15 minutes, then 20 minutes, etc. If you are working on strength training and want to do push-ups you may have to start with kneeling push-ups. If you can do three, that is great—make the goal to get to four. Writing down your mini-goals is a great way to track your progress, and to remind yourself that even when that big goal feels far away the process is working. You can look back on how far you have come and feel good about what you have accomplished. This will inspire you to keep pushing through.