How to get motivated for fitness
By Fahad Maniar
“So, what do you feel is stopping you from achieving your ideal physique, Bob?”
“I just don’t have the motivation to go through with a fitness plan…”
That seems to be a pretty typical conversation I have with people calling into the Team Fighting Fit HQ. People want the results but the motivation to do the work required is where they become unstuck. So, I thought I’d address that issue with a few tips in this blog post.
And, at the risk of going all Tony Robbins on you, I am going to go all motivational guru on you (well, almost)
Below, I’ll outline 7 things that will help you get motivated but before we go into motivation, let’s have a quick chat about why it’s so hard to get motivated in the first place!
The mind is a complicated thing and there are two main components to consider. You have a conscious mind, that’s the one where you have say over, the part that has to think then act. You know, you go for ice cream and you decide between Vanilla or Chocolate. You have to make a conscious decision and be aware of what you want to a certain degree.
The subconscious mind is the part of your mind that does things without you having to do any thinking or prompting. It’s like a computer’s operating system. It stores the vital programs that keep you alive. For example, in your operating system is a program called heart beat. You don’t consciously have to remind yourself every second for your heart to beat, it does that automatically.
In between the two though is a bodyguard. It’s a part of your brain that makes sure you survive. In Prof Stephen Peter’s hit book, The Chimp Paradox, he calls this part of the mind, the Chimp. It’s strong and will fight you to keep you alive. Try it, go to the kitchen now and set your hand on fire, you won’t do it because your chimp is strong.
The chimp likes safety, it likes familiarity and it doesn’t like change. We’re creatures of habit, good or bad, and the chimp feels safe and comfortable in that routine. Implement something new into the routine, like going to the gym or eating healthy and the chimp will fight you again. It’s the chimp that talks you out of going to the gym… but you’re a smart human being, you’re going to let a chimp run your life?
Below, you’ll find 7 tips on overcoming this resistance and help you get motivated!
Step 1 Focus on Why
Ever ask yourself How? How do you get fitter? How do you make more money? How do you find the man or woman of your dreams and get them to agree to do all the kinky stuff you’ve been watching online? You’re asking the wrong question!
Right, I’m going to challenge the status quo here but contrary to popular belief, Knowledge is NOT power. You can go to google right now and find out how to be a millionaire or even how to become Batman (seriously!) and let’s be honest, if you’re neither a millionaire or batman, it’s not the how to you lack (Thanks to the internet) – it’s the desire or knowing WHY you want it. When you know why you’ll find out how. You’ve got to get clear on why you want to get fit, what it will mean to you, what it will mean to the people who you care about, what it’s going to cost you and ultimately cost those you love if you DON’T achieve your goals. This will give you an internal motivation, a fire from within and that kind of motivation is far more powerful than the external motivation of a guru or a coach talking to you or making you feel good with quotes and stuff.
Step 2 Set Smart Goals
Setting goals gives you something to work towards but remember, the mind is a very complicated thing and we need to get both the chimp and the subconscious mind on board so simply setting a goal that’s vague like “I will lose weight” will not create enough internal drive or motivation. You need to use a method that works. One such method is the popular SMART system for goal setting. SMART Is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Agreeable, Realistic and Time Bound.
Check out the video to find out more:
Step 3 Have a plan
You’ve got the goal but now you need to know how to get the goal and that’s what the plan is for. It’s the blueprint and the detail on achieving the goal. You see anyone can set a goal but in order to get the goal you need to take some action, and sometimes you’ll need to take massive action. But most people become stuck because when it’s time for the rubber to meet the road, the don’t even leave the driveway.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably need a detailed step by step and fairly simple process mapped out in front of you to show you how to achieve your goals. That’s how I succeed at anything. I have my big goal mapped out and break it down into incremental chunks or steps and attack them one by one with vigour.
This is where it’s a good idea to get a coach or an expert who can help you plan out your goals and then help you achieve them by holding you both accountatable and helping you achieve the steps in the process.
Step 4. Measure Everything
There’s a great saying, “If it can be measured, it can be improved”.
Keeping track of your progress and having hard data can not only help you course correct yourself when things are not going according to plan but can be a great reminder for you on how you’re making progress when you forget.
Let’s face it, when it comes to a goal such as losing body fat and building muscle, it can be disheartening to not get the visible results you want straight away but if you keep the data of weight loss, workout data showing improvements and strength gains and even things like nutrition logs, you’ll know you’re making progress and it will keep you determined to see the process through!
Step 5. Make it fun
Culminating a new habit isn’t easy, especially if there’s hard work involved but making the activity fun enhances your chances of adherence to a plan. If things are hard and boring all the time, you’ll not want to carry on and you’ll soon give up but if you look forward to something and have fun doing it, the dopamine hit you receive from doing the good stuff will be magnified and you’ll find working out is more enjoyable and as a result, you’ll look forward to it.
One way to do this is to not look at working out as hard, activities such as team sports or even dancing which some find very enjoyable can make great exercises. We’ve seen a huge rise in the popularity of exercise clubs such as Zumba, 5 a side football clubs and various combat sports such as BJJ, MMA and Muay Thai all of which will give you a calorie burn and help you lose weight (although, if a body transformation is something you’re keen on, you’ll need to add resistance training into the mix)
Step 6. Don’t be a loner
Let’s face it, training alone isn’t for everyone. In fact, it wasn’t untill very long ago that I didn’t really like weight training and bodybuilding. I found it boring and lonely, I much preferred the buzz of training for fights with others although now, I have come to appreciate the science and art of bodybuilding and as someone who is very motivated to enhance my body and work towards goals, I can grind out workouts on my own like a champion.
But not everyone can do that, not even some of my top clients who much prefer to work as a group. Working with a training partner or a small group of people who you get along with makes training fun, competitive and keeps your levels of adherence high as you don’t wish to let the team down or be seen as the one who’s always absent.
This is why our semi-private training programmes are so popular.
Step 7. Pump yourself up
Finally, although intrinsic motivation such as goal setting and “Finding your why” are far greater motivators than external motivators, it doesn’t hurt to go for some external motivation from time to time.
This could be watching motivating clips on youtube (my favourites are watching fighters and athletes train to some epic music) or it could be to watch motivating movies (The Rocky anthology was my favourite, especially Rocky 4 the night before a big fight!).
You could just listen to some upbeat music that pumps you up too and there are even certain supplements that can enhance your mood and help you get focussed. Caffeine is one of these and a cup of coffee can really help as can L-Tyrosine (Found in many focus based pre workout concoctions).