by Ann-Marie Stephens
Whether you are trying to lose weight or simply trying to stay in shape, finding motivation to do it is often easier said than done. This article will not only show you how to stay motivated long enough to achieve your goals, but how to find motivation for all your future goals and ambitions.
Pre-Requisites to finding motivation
Finding motivation to achieve any goal in life is like finding that all elusive secret. After all, motivation is the key ingredient to success. Have it, and you can achieve anything. Without motivation, even the most mundane tasks seem impossible. However, motivation itself requires two key ingredients; the will to adopt new approaches (having an open mind), and the need to succeed.
Step one to finding motivation – replay!
Most of us feel the need to get back in shape because someone important enough has taunted us a few times about our current shape or we have read some article about the effects of being out of shape.
If it was a taunt, replay it in your mind again and again until you feel the anger growing within you and the need to do something about it. If it was some article you’ve read, think about the effects of being out of shape that were mentioned in the article.
The very fact that you are on this page means you already have a reason to get back in shape – focus on it.
Step two to finding motivation – get past the first week!
Depending on how out of shape you are, your physical capacity and lung capacity might be severely limited. But know this: the body is very good at adapting. The second day is easier than the first and the third easier than the second. Day after day you will notice your capacity increasing. To begin with, concentrate on doing your exercises daily for one week. Start small and each day increase it by just a bit. By the end of the week you will be seven times better than when you started!
Step three to finding motivation – Forget the past, start small
Motivation often falters when we miss our initial targets. For example, when you last exercised, you might have been able to do 10 laps of the pool with only a mild sense of exhaustion. After a long break, start with one lap of the pool. The next day do two and the day after, do three laps and so on. You may think you can do three laps on the first day itself but don’t go for it.
Step four to finding motivation – Pace yourself
Remember to increment your exercise routine by tiny amounts. It may take you a tad longer to reach your goal but that is infinitely better than dealing with failure mid-way.
Step five – Know where the peak lies
In the example above, I wrote about increasing the exercise volume by a bit on a daily basis. Once you reach (say) five laps of the pool, continue doing only five laps for the rest of the week and then ask yourself how you feel. Do you feel confident you can add one more lap and sustain it?
Too many failures result from over-reaching ourselves. On a good day we might be able to do 7 or even 10 laps but that does not mean we can sustain it over a period of time. Knowing your limits is not only the key to staying motivated, it is the key to preventing injuries.
Step six to finding motivation – Methodology
Achieving a goal usually requires more than one step. Getting back in shape usually requires us to exercise and replace foods that contribute to the flab with foods that don’t. Measure your success by the completeness of your achievement.
Step seven – Reward Yourself!
Achieving all your targets for the first week is a major achievement. See that you give yourself a small reward. The reward will make you feel good and also remind you of your success.
Step eight – Sustain your activity
Successfully achieving all your goals for the first week makes it much easier to continue because you now have the ‘know-how’ to achieve your goals. Remember, tiny increments or if you have reached your target, innovate and make your exercise routine more interesting. Reward yourself at the end of each successfully completed week or month.
Ultimately motivation comes from the mind and our mind is extraordinarily powerful. To stay motivated, you must want your target bad enough.
Some readers had written to me previously saying that they do not think about the exercise while exercising. Instead, they concentrate on thinking about solutions to problems at office and before they know it, they have reached the end of the exercise routine for the day. Experiment around; discover what works best and helps sustain your activity.
Ann-Marie Stephens is a co-founder of the Precise Portions, a dietitian-designed portion control dinnerware system that makes it easy to eat well. Taking the guesswork out of healthier eating; retraining you to eat the right amounts of the right foods, in the right proportion; improving chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. You can find healthy eating information & practical tips on Precise Portions blog.