There are many reasons why people may begin or continue a training routine and these reasons may change as time goes on. Whatever the reason, I believe it is crucial to be in touch with what your inner motivation is and use this to keep you well on track.
Motivation is a huge factor in making long-term lifestyle change. Without it, we can find ourselves hitting a wall or even bouncing off that wall and regressing. Making positive changes to our lifestyle can require effort, but if we find ways of enjoying the changes we have made, we may end up not even needing to think or worry about the effort needed.
Sometimes, one’s inner motivation is not burning too strongly and this is where one of the benefits of having a Personal Trainer comes in. To support, motivate and encourage. At the beginning, perhaps the decision to exercise has come not from within but from what one thinks they should do or what they have been told to do. In these circumstances, finding a sustainable approach and long-term engagement with exercise won’t be impossible, but will be difficult. The goal is known but the move towards true ‘action’ and commitment is not quite there yet. They are still in a phase of ‘contemplation’.
We’ve all been in these circumstances at some point, where we know what we need to do or what we should be doing, but something just stops us from getting on and doing it. From my experience as a Personal Trainer some of the factors that really seem to move someone from a ‘contemplation phase’ to an ‘action phase’ within their exercise or nutrition programmes are:
- Health repercussions – They have identified or have been told that their overall health is being impacted
- Having a specific target – For example a fitness or social event they are preparing for
- Enjoyment – They enjoy or are beginning to experience enjoyment in what they are doing
- Seeing progress – They see progress in their health and fitness and begin to believe that positive change will happen
I’d like to focus on two of the above in a little more detail.
I believe that if I can support my clients to not only complete training programmes but to enjoy them too, then the chances of their continuing long beyond their personal training sessions with me will be far higher, leaving a sustainable and habitual approach to exercise that changes their overall lifestyle. If we can approach exercise from an angle that is based upon wanting to get out there and train because it makes us feel good and we enjoy doing it then the chances of that onerous and lethargic feeling just before we tie our laces for a run or enter the gym door for a weights session will soon disappear. We are engaging in exercise for the enjoyment rather than because it’s the thing we need to do to get the end outcome.
Seeing results can be a massive confidence booster and a great feeling. I often set fitness tests with my clients to allow the numbers to confirm the progress they have made in their health and fitness. It’s often the case that when someone identifies that positive changes made to their nutrition or exercise habits have resulted in ‘x’ body fat percentage loss or a reduction in their BMI score, they are filled with a new level of motivation. When we know something works, we have more confidence in it. But without the experience of this, how can we truly believe that the effort we put in will yield anything? Most people like to see the proof and once they have the proof they can fully get behind the process.
To conclude: Stay motivated and be in it for the long term
- Be realistic – Know what best works for you, your lifestyle and time availability.
- Mix things up – Aim to change up your exercise routine from time to time and don’t stay stagnant with your weights for resistance training and times for cardio training. Set regular targets to measure progress.
- Enjoy – Know what training you enjoy doing and do more of it.
- Review – Remember to check in from time to time on what your true inner motivation is. Why are you doing this? Knowing what ‘fires you up’ will give you that extra push to train that little bit harder.