Let me tell you a secret…
Sometimes, I just don’t want to lift anything. In fact, a lot of times, I want to do nothing at all. I feel sluggish, unmotivated, and generally uninterested in training anything at all.
It’s easy to assume that coaches are somehow immune to these feelings. We eat, sleep, and breathe fitness. We’re literally in the gym all day. But we lose motivation too.
The important thing isn’t that the motivation is lacking. The important thing is what happens next. How do we rediscover the motivation and get moving again – toward fitness goals or toward any goal?
Motivation is either intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic value is something that is personally rewarding all on its own. An intrinsic motivator for improved fitness might be that it feels good to move about the world with greater strength and independence. Extrinsic value involves an external reward (or the avoidance of a punishment). An extrinsic motivator for fitness might be a trophy or prize for attendance.
Intrinsic motivation is generally more powerful. But the reality is that we need a little bit of both to get us where we want to go.
Thinking about kinds of motivation, here are some tips to find, keep, and/or rediscover your motivation. (Note that these tips work for any goal, but for our purposes, we’ll focus on fitness goals.)
Find (or Rediscover) Your “Why”
Think about why you started your fitness journey in the first place. And not just the surface-level stuff. Was it for your health? Your family? Is there a specific activity or competition you want to do? Who, besides you, does the achievement of your goal affect? Often, reminding ourselves of why we started or want to start will help propel us forward.
Make It Fun!
Surround yourself with people who positively reinforce your efforts. Try joining a group class with recurring weekly activities to help establish relationships, keep you accountable, and provide an environment that is conducive to a positive mindset. We’re all more likely to stick with something when we enjoy it!
Take It One Step at a Time
You have a big goal, and it should be considered a long-term project. Sometimes that big goal causes us to feel overwhelmed or like we’re failing when we don’t give our perceived 100%.
Try to focus your attention on a number of smaller and more immediately achievable milestones. We say it all the time, but it bears repeating: Consistency is the most underrated fitness goal. Start by doing a tiny bit more or one thing differently than you’re currently doing. (Go for a short walk or eat some veggies.) Then do that thing over and over. Those little actions add up!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help with selecting these goals. When we rack up successes with mini goals, we tend to have a more positive outlook towards our overall goal.
Say Goodbye to “All or Nothing” Thinking
You do not need to be perfect. Have you ever thought: “If I can’t do it well, I won’t do it at all!” Yeah… us too. But when you look at your meal and exercise plan in this way it sets you up to feel like you’re frequently failing. Remind yourself that every workout, walk, or meal prep offers individual opportunities to improve regardless of how you perceive its quality. Remember that forward progress is a series of small repeated actions. Just keep showing up. On the opposite side, backward slides aren’t the result of a single “bad” choice. So if something isn’t perfect, don’t sweat it! Keep moving forward.
Track Objective Evidence
Maintaining an objective record – like how much weight you lift, or how long it takes to complete a workout – can provide you with evidence of your hard work. If you’ve hit a rut, look back at the progress you’ve made. Reminding yourself how far you’ve already come will give you a more positive attitude towards the future.
Reframe Negative Thoughts
Take a minute to scan through your thoughts. What messages are you sending yourself? When faced with a negative thought, you can REFRAME it. For example, “This is too hard! I am never going to be able to do this!” could be changed to “This is not one of my strengths, but if I keep practicing, I will get better.”
True Story: I have always struggled with squats. I hated every squat session. All my sets started mentally with some version of “ugh, I hate this and I suck at it.” Then, after many years, I decided to reframe that thought. Every single time I squatted, I told myself, “I’m a good squatter and I like squatting.” Literally every set. I didn’t even necessarily believe it, but that doesn’t matter. After a couple months of this… I hit my first squat PR (personal record) in FOUR YEARS.
It sounds silly, but your mind is a powerful thing! If you insist on positivity, your attitude will follow.
You Can Do It!
Just remember that no one is motivated all the time. We all – even coaches! – have days (or even weeks and months) when it certainly feels easier to throw in the towel. Pause. Reframe. Remember why you started.
We’re here for it! Just click the “free intro” button on this page to set up a free chat with a coach. We’ll help you figure out what’s really motivating you to create change in your life, and – more importantly – we’ll stick with you through all the ups and downs. Let’s do this thing!