Written by: Chris Huffman, Certified Personal Trainer
Keep Moving Forward. It’s a phrase of which I often remind myself. I love it because it relates to all facets of life: mind, body, and spirit. This mantra can be a helpful reminder when our motivation to exercise is waning.
Exercise & Motivation
Exercise (when performed safely and properly) can have a positive impact on every system of the body.
The benefits of exercise range from weight loss to easing the symptoms of depression. Really it’s quite amazing! And yet many of us struggle with exercising on a consistent basis. Why? Of course, there are a lot of reasons. One reason may be that most people are not intrinsically motivated to exercise. For the blessed minority that are, exercise is connected to positive emotions and they enjoy exercise for the sake of it. Don’t worry if that’s not you. It could be in the future!
Most of us though are more extrinsically motivated. An example of this would be wanting to lose weight to fit into your favorite dress or that skin-tight [insert favorite superhero] costume. You get the idea. Extrinsic motivation comes from some external source, and that’s not a bad thing! These motivating factors can be strong. Ride that wave, but know it may be difficult to sustain over the long haul. When the goals are met, or exercise seems burdensome, it may be easier to give it up altogether if you don’t inherently enjoy your exercise program.
There are also some people who have had bad exercise experiences. (Inability to climb the rope in P.E. anyone?!)
Anxiety, guilt and frustration may be the words that better suit your feelings. The thought of sweating may cause you to break out into cold sweats. If this is you, starting small is key. Even doing some exercise once or twice a week is a good start, and anything is better than nothing. Plus, do something you don’t hate…and maybe you’ll even find that you enjoy it!
How do I stay Motivated?
Set small goals
One of the best ways to stay motivated is to start with achievable small goals. You’re not selling yourself short here. You’re just being realistic. You may be looking to lose 20 pounds or more but start with a focus on 5 pounds. As you achieve your small goals your success will fuel your motivation. Realistic small goals add up to big goals in the end.
Be honest with yourself
Pick a form of exercise that is right for your level of conditioning. Be honest with yourself. If you haven’t run in a few years don’t go run a 10K the first time out. Sure, that’s an extreme example, but the point is it’s important to pick a sustainable exercise program. If you go too hard you may get burned out pretty quick. And don’t be ashamed of walking! Walking is a great exercise with so many benefits. Whatever it is that you want to do, take that first step and get started.
Once you get into a rhythm of exercising regularly you’ll naturally look forward to it. The release of endorphins during exercise can help improve mood and boost energy. That little boost might be the motivation you need to keep at it. If you miss your scheduled exercise you may notice a difference just like missing out on that daily cup of coffee (that is, if you’re a coffee drinker). After a week or two of consistent exercise you’ll start to feel some benefits. The scale may not change, but hey, your overall outlook on life might!
Keep Moving Forward
Let’s talk about setbacks…
Some days you may just not be feeling it. Ice cream and Netflix may be calling out to you in a loud voice! That’s OK. It happens to everyone. It can be tempting to just give up when we run into setbacks. Negativity can rear it’s head. “Welp, I failed. I’m a failure. Exercise isn’t for me. I’m not like those fit people.” Whatever the negative self conversation may be, try to reframe the conversation in a positive way. “I didn’t exercise today. So what? I’ll get back at it tomorrow.”
The mantra Keep Moving Forward is helpful in keeping a positive outlook and pushing through setbacks.
Imagine your fitness journey as a line on a graph. Does your line have a positive slope? You may have many peaks and valleys like a roller coaster, but what is important is having a net improvement over the long haul. The goal is to Keep Moving Forward. It doesn’t matter if you are back to square 1, or square negative 1 for that matter, any movement in a positive direction is a victory. Take one step forward and then another…Keep Moving Forward.