Name: Abby Huot
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Education: St. Mary's University of Minnesota (2004)
Occupation: Athlete, writer, fitness model, bikini/figure competitor
The year is rapidly drawing to a close, and many of us are still uncomfortable from the Thanksgiving and Christmas gorging we did. During the holidays, people are notorious for brushing off unwanted weight gain with the "I'm in a bulking phase" joke. But with a little laughter and a bit of pudge often comes a loss of fitness motivation!
As the temperatures drop we—yes, me too—are tempted to skip the gym and stay inside. Sure, the holidays are a time when all of your favorite goodies become a part of the daily spread, but that doesn't mean you should use them as an excuse. Those cookies are delicious, sure, but once you set all of the insulin-spiking glory aside, it's easy to see how even a month of unchecked overindulgence can derail you from our goals.
Motivation isn't something that's always easy for people to find, and I'm no different than anyone else. I tend to thrive in the spring and summer, but as soon as the days get shorter, I just want to sit in sweatpants and eat pasta.
In order to succeed, you have to keep your flame burning strong even when the light goes down. Here's how!
Establish Your "Why"
Many entrepreneurs are familiar with TED Talks and a writer-speaker named Simon Sinek. He speaks to something called "The Golden Circle." While this is typically spoken about in terms of business goals, it applies equally as well to fitness goals.
The Golden Circle teaches that your "why" should be at the center of all your actions. Your "why" dictates your decision making, your drive, and ultimately, what sets you apart. We all know that it's important to work out and eat well, and if you're reading this, you know where to go to get the basics on how to do it. But no matter how much information you have, it's not until you create a strong, solid foundation of why you're doing these things that you'll actually stick to them.
Your "why" could be a variety things. Maybe you're looking to meet a specific weight goal you set last year, maybe you want to be more active with your children, or maybe, just maybe, you want to stop feeling like crap and live a longer life. If your ultimate goal is to step on stage, that's great—but that's not your "why"—it's your "what."
Your "why" is tied to the parts of your heart and soul that really get you going. If you're unclear of why you started in the first place, you need to sit down and reassess. It's very possible your "why" has changed from when you started, and it could very well be part of the reason your motivation is waning. Some soul searching and self-development books can go a long way to give you a timely kick in the pants.
For now, forget the "how" and "what"—they only come into play once you're core reason is established. When you're looking to rev up your motivation, you have to start with "why."
It's much easier to stay motivated when you've got some variety in your training routine. The average person seems to use the same exercise and lifting routine that they've had for years. We get lazy, we get complacent, and we don't even seem to realize it.
If you're in a workout slump, take the extra step and hire a coach or research some new training techniques to give your routine a jump-start. It sounds so simple, but something as little as learning 3-4 new exercises or modifications can make you feel like you have a brand new training routine under your belt.
Invest in yourself and get a trainer or coach to guide you when you don't have the self discipline to get yourself to the gym. If that's too pricy an option, consider finding a training partner to help give you extra accountability and motivation.
A change of scenery can also help. One of the smartest decisions you can make is to train at two different gym locations throughout the week. With as many national chains as there are for gyms now, it's fairly easy to find two different ones that are close to your home or job.
A mere change of a gym layout and some new faces can be enough to shake up the monotony of what you've been doing.
Experiment in the Kitchen
It never ceases to amaze me how people can be 3+ years into fitness and still eat canned tuna and boiled chicken as the main staples of their diet. Most of us have easy access to a host of delicious foods, so there's no reason for your meals to be joyless.
You don't have to spend five hours preparing a gourmet meal; in fact, you can find several nutritious meals in the Bodybuilding.com Recipe Database that are simple, easy, and delicious. Stop waiting, and try one today!
Realize That You're Not a Victim
I hate to sound like your mom, but nobody is going to live fit for you, and no amount of whining is going to get you any closer to attaining your goals. Sounds harsh, but tough love is still love.
I personally don't give a crap what people do. Be in shape or be out of shape, but make it your own decision. I would be rich if I got paid for all the "woe is me" emails and texts I get from people who seem to think they'll magically stumble upon a dump truck filled with self-motivation someday. Alas, it just doesn't happen that way.
So ditch the "I'll start Monday" attitude. I'm telling you this from a place of love. Yes, you have kids. Yes, you have a job. Yes, it's difficult to find balance in the midst of a busy daily routine. But if you really want something, you'll go after it. If you're scared to enter the gym after a hiatus—or for the first time ever—for fear of being judged, don't be.
I hate to burst your bubble, but unless you're shrieking, or doing something horrifically noisy or dangerous with the equipment, nobody's paying attention to you.
Stop letting your fear get the best of you.
Find and Keep Accountability
After you've got your "why" absolutely nailed, figure out what and who motivates you. Partner up with a spouse, friend, or family member. Write your goals down and ask someone to join you. Take your pictures and measurements. Cry if you need to, but make it happen.
Are you extrinsically motivated? Find a transformation challenge with a cash prize, or try this simple trick with your friends: Every time you go to the gym, put a small amount of money in the jar. Every time you decide to skip the gym on a day that's not scheduled to be an "off" day, add three or four times more than the decided amount to the jar. At the end of a few months, whoever has made the most progress wins the cash!
This is a quick and easy way to get some skin in the game, but remember to stay honest! Your added motivation doesn't have to be monetary, either. Figure out what motivates you best and helps you stick to your guns and goals.
Pump Up the Jams
When was the last time you updated your playlist? Honestly, one of the best tips I can give you is completely free: Swap music with friends so you have some new tunes for training! Make sure your playlist is loaded with songs that amp you up—maybe skip the Adele when you're saying "Hello" to the weights, unless that really gets you going.
When it comes down to the core of all of this, you must love yourself more than you love the fuzzy warmth of your comfort zone. Excuses are excuses: Yes, it's cold and gross outside, and yes, it's easier to eat out, but nothing worth having in life is easy. Love yourself enough to train and eat well anyway.
To be successful and maintain motivation, you absolutely must love yourself no matter how much you screw up, cheat on your diet, or skip the gym. If you don't love yourself, you're never going to follow through on anything.