"I'm pumped all day to exercise, but when I finally leave work and get ready to train at night, all my enthusiasm is gone. It's frustrating! Any ideas?"
I totally understand where you're coming from. Luckily, there's a relatively simple fix: You need to start thinking in terms of "motivation" rather than "enthusiasm." Motivation is the reason you have for acting or behaving in a particular way; enthusiasm is simply your energy or eagerness to do something. Allow me to explain with a quick story about my wife, who was in a similar scenario for a long time.
My wife is originally from a small town in Northern Canada, where winter temperatures can drop as low as minus 70 degrees C. It's the kind of weather that makes you want to never leave your house, let alone wake up to exercise at 3 a.m.
Still, every morning my wife would wake up, scrape the ice off her car, and shovel snow off the driveway just so she could squeeze in an hour of cardio before work. In the evenings she'd come home, put on her parka and boots, and head to the gym again—this time for weight training.
My wife's determination and enthusiasm were impressive, so I had to ask her: "What's the key to staying motivated?" Her answer was exactly what I suspected. Day to day, depending on how exhausted she was, or how bad the blizzard was, her levels of enthusiasm would fluctuate. Some days it would be higher than others. The key here is that motivation, not enthusiasm, got my wife to the gym.
She wasn't enthusiastic about packing on multiple layers to brave the cold and hit the gym, but she was motivated. She was training for a purpose. She had a specific goal with a specific deadline. Her specificity was essential to her success.
At the time, my wife was competing in fitness competitions, which required her to be in peak shape. If you only have 12 weeks to prepare, then every single day counts. Her motivation to never skip a workout stemmed from that. Would she have put in that same effort if her goals weren't as specific, or if she was driven only by enthusiasm? Not a chance. She might have worked out occasionally, but not with the same consistency.
While this might be an extreme example, it makes a clear point. You can't rely only on your level of enthusiasm to get you to the gym. More important, you can't rely on it to force you to train hard once you're there. You need a good plan to stay focused and committed.
Here are some tips to keep you on track:
Get Motivated By Your Goal
Motivation comes from the goal-setting process, so make sure you have a very specific goal with a hard deadline. Stay away from buzzwords and set a detailed goal you can actually picture.
Check out my article on goal setting to gain a better understanding of the importance of this step.
Make Exercise A Priority
We all have the same number of hours in a day. Use yours wisely. In order to succeed, you have to make training a priority. When you wake up in the morning, make a to-do list.
Don't let a lesser priority bump your workout from today to tomorrow. Procrastinators are always about tomorrow. People who create change are all about today.
Make A Routine
Create a routine that will help snap you into "workout mode." I have a trigger that tells me when it's time to hit the gym. Before my workout, I walk into the break room and make my pre-workout drink.
Not only does the pre-workout give me additional energy and focus, it also kicks off a little routine that switches my mind into workout mode so I know it's time to leave all else behind and hit the iron—hard.
A pre-workout is also my built-in timer because I know that it takes about 15-20 minutes for it to fully kick in. It's that first step in initiating my "workout countdown."
Change Your Body Language
Just as your mind influences your body, your body influences your mind. Standing slouched, dragging your feet, and looking down all the time only makes you feel more tired.
Practice perfect posture. Stand up straight, lift your chin, take a deep breath, and say to yourself: "Let's do this." If that doesn't psych you up, do whatever it takes! Heck, beat your chest like King Kong if you want.
Flip The Mental Switch
Stop thinking about how tired and unmotivated you are. If my thoughts centered on kicking off my shoes and sinking into the sofa, it'd be hard to feel amped for my workout. Shake away weary thoughts.
Instead, think about how good you're going to feel when you've crushed your workout and are one day closer to your goals.
Don't Get Ahead Of Yourself
Focus on your workout, not all the things that you have to do after your workout. When you jump ahead like that you mentally wear yourself out before you've even begun.
Push back thoughts about making dinner, paying bills, helping the kids with their homework, or whatever else you have to do that evening. Instead, shift your attention to the specifics of your workout.
Go through your plan of attack in your head, and then execute it with intensity.
Know Your Rhythm
Some people are "morning people" and some are the opposite. It's a fact of life. If after employing all these strategies, you still find yourself struggling, consider rearranging your schedule so you train in the morning when you're more energetic.