The Need For Motivation
Hence lies the need for motivation - sometimes, a whole lot of it. For me the biggest pool of motivation is the inner and outward feelings of living a healthy lifestyle. Eating unhealthy makes you feel sluggish. Not exercising, which is a great reliever of stress, doesn't allow for a good night's sleep. There are so many great reasons to exercise regularly, so the examples could go on and on. Most places I go people will stare at my arms or shoulders, the brave ones will actually ask me if I work out. Compliments, especially from strangers, about the condition or shapeliness of your body can probably be ranked as the number one form of motivation.
But what if you are just starting out? First and foremost, let me tell you that a proven formula for disaster is a lack of knowledge and a good plan. Bodybuilding.com is a great source of information to help you learn and develop a plan. I have seen many new gym members come and go. They exercise for several weeks and then one day vanish, never to be seen again. Where did they go? Did they have a well thought out plan? Or were they too unrealistic with their expectations. Unrealism will dry out your motivation pool in rapid fashion. The boys and girls you see in the magazines are extremely dedicated to their craft. This is our job and what we love to do the most. Unless you are gifted genetically, plan on working out for many, many years if you want to come close to some of these physiques.
Ok, so now we have the foundation set with knowledge and a good plan chocked full of realistic goals. Your plan needs to be structured around short and long range goals. Short range goals shouldn't require a tremendous amount of effort to be accomplished. Getting to bed a half and hour early on Sunday so you can get up earlier on Monday to hit the gym is a good example of a short range goal that can be easily accomplished. Short range goals can and should also be created each and every day! Long range goals take a little more thought and planning.
To simply say that you want to get in shape does not constitute a long range goal! For this goal, you need to be much more specific. What exactly does getting into shape mean to you? Is it being able to climb 3 flights of stairs without being winded? Is it to decrease you waist line or drop a dress size? Or is it to tighten the muscles in your arms or to lose a few pounds from your thighs? Remember, be specific and be realistic and most importantly - write down all your goals!
The Workout Journal
One of my best friends in the world is my workout journal. And honestly, I have come to learn the value of keeping one. In the beginning I would just go to the gym and lift weights, run on the treadmill and try to eat healthy. Like most people my memory is limited in its ability to recall how much I squatted last week and for how many reps I did it for. My portable workout journal, which travels with me to the gym each and every time I go, is an IPAQ with a simple spreadsheet broken down into the days of the week. Believe me when I tell you that the times I do forget to bring it, I am lost and never feel that I worked out as hard as I should. Here is a great place to talk about an "on the fly" short range goal.
Let's say that the last time you did dumbbell presses your heaviest lift was 20lbs at 4 reps on the 4th and final set. Now here you are in the gym, workout journal in hand and you just wrote down your rep count for your 3rd set.
A sudden rush of energy overcomes your body while you reach for the 20lbs dumbbells and you set out to beat your last week rep count of 4. An "on the fly" short range goal! 1 press, 2 press, 3 press, 4 press and… 5 press! It's simple accomplishments like these that will continue to fill up your motivational pool. Journals can be simple or complex friends. They may contain daily information on workouts, the way you feel when you wake up in the morning, aches and pains, times to eat your meals, supplement information and anything else that you feel is important to write down. As the days go by your journal will contain a wealth of information. Sometimes I look back a year ago and see what my best squat or curl was. I can see how far I come as well as it helps me set more realistic goals down the road.
Another helpful hint is to take full body pictures of yourself (front, back and side shots) each month. Don't be over critical by what you see as the months go by. Changes are often subtle but you should see some positive results.
When the motivational pool runs shallow the excuses not to exercise start to amass and take priority, so what do you do?
1) Look at your journal and re-read the reasons for why you started to work out in the first place. Did you accomplish some of your goals? Do they need to be more realistic?
2) We all go through stressful situations in our life - remember one of the best stress relievers is working out.
3) Sometimes a simple thing like a buying new workout outfit will do wonders.
4) Make friends at the gym. Your gym should be a place where you feel comfortable, a place where you have someone to say hello to - and trust me, your hard work and dedication will pay off. Fellow workout-er's are quick to realize and pay compliments.
5) Find a workout partner that can help keep you motivated. When you may be low in motivation your partner may be high and vice versa. Also you now have an additional commitment to go to the gym. It wouldn't be fair to leave your partner hanging, would it?
6) Take a week off. Sometimes a simple re-charge of the batteries will do wonders! If you do decide to take the week off then do exactly that! Don't let the guilt of not hitting the weights pull you back into the gym early. By the time the week passes your motivational pool will probably be overflowing.
7) Get your hands on a fitness related magazine. I constantly find gallons of motivation by looking at my competition in the magazines.
8) You are not alone. We have all been there...burnt out, fed up, tired, hurt, or what ever you want to call it. There are hundreds of obstacles and set backs that lie in the wait. Keep your chin up and stay the course - you will be successful!
9) Find a role model - someone who you may be able to communicate with via e-mail or written correspondence. There are many wonderful athletes out there that fully understand what you want to accomplish and just how difficult it can be.
10) Read 1-9 again!