“How do YOU stay motivated?”

 In Blog

“How do YOU stay motivated?”, a client asked me after returning from a 3 week bout of bronchitis. I had commended her for completing the modified versions of her workouts, and for not giving up altogether as a result of her illness, as she might have done before she started training with me.

I think her question was recognizing the role a trainer has in keeping clients motivated. She was able to keep going. Her question was, how does the trainer keep going? Who coaches the coach? How do I stay motivated?

1. Results

This gets down to your “why”. For some, it may be to compete on a team sport or in a race, or to be able to do things they love like hiking, or to get out of pain. For me, I think I always have the motivation to want to be fit, to be strong and mobile, to have muscle aesthetically and functionally. Letting myself “go” is never an option. The motivation, as in having the desire, is always there. The motivation to actually do the work to get the results, that is more of a challenge.

2. Do Less

Just as I told my client to modify her workouts after she had the illness, I give myself permission to do less. This may be difficult for people who feel like they have to do it perfectly all of the time. But this all or nothing thinking is very detrimental. That is why people quit. It is not going to be perfect all of the time. Consistency beats perfection. It is better to do something, even if it is less, than nothing. I may feel like doing nothing, but then I tell myself, just do pull ups and shoulder press today. You may think, two exercises? That’s not a workout. No, but it is something. It is not nothing.

3. Maintenance is easier than building

Admittedly, it takes less effort to maintain than it does to build. All those years I spent 6 days a week in the gym building muscle have paid off. I am happy with my physique. It takes less work now to maintain it. Even if I did train 6 days a week now, I don’t expect I’d be able to add much more muscle, but I could end up with a joint injury.

Related to this is the natural periodization that comes with seasons. I do my major leg strength training in the fall and winter. I save my legs for cycling workouts in the spring and summer. This natural rhythm of the seasons gives many athletes longevity to train year after year.

4. Recognize what is holding me back

On days when the workout doesn’t happen, I ask myself: What is holding me back from doing a full workout? The culprits are usually time and energy.  If it is time, then I fit in a shorter workout or I have to make more time in my schedule. One can get still effective workouts in shorter blocks of time. I tell myself, it doesn’t always have to be an epic 2 hour workout. If it is lack of energy, then I have to put more focus on getting enough sleep and not skipping meals. In these peri-menopause years, sleep is definitely a focus. I know I now need a good 8 hours of quality sleep.

5. Prioritize

Fit people make fitness a priority in their life. Exercise does require intention. It doesn’t just happen. I used to do my laundry on Saturdays. But if I want to use my Saturday mornings to go for a 4 hour bike ride like my husband does, then I blocked off the time for it by getting my laundry and grocery shopping done on Friday nights. That mean I am not sitting on the couch staying up late watching a movie. But therein lies the priorities. I’m getting my chores done Friday so I can go for a long bike ride on Saturday. If you really make fitness a priority in your life, other things will have to move, wait or be denied.

6. Remember how good it feels

I do love the next-day feeling of waking up with muscles that know they were used the day before. I enjoy the feeling of “pump” immediately following a workout. And I also enjoy the benefits of cardio after hours on the bike. The internal furnace of the body is burning energy like crazy. My appetite increases and I sleep better. My clients also reinforce this when they tell me they feel great after working hard. The secret is just to start.

7. Accountability

While I don’t have a coach to keep me accountable, I do have the inspiration of a fit husband. He works out everyday, and often gets up very early to make time for his workouts. Because he loves cycling, he motivates me to go cycling. I want to be able to keep up to him. That motivates me to improve my cardio. You can read more about him in a book called The Fit Executive.

Of course, you can hire a personal trainer and coach to help motivate you! We plan custom workouts for you based on your goals, then continually assess and re-assess your progress and then modify your workouts to suit you. Healthy eating and lifestyle coaching is included. Just fill out the contact page to get started!

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