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So, a few weeks or months back you decided to take on a new diet and exercise program. Your motivation started out super strong in the beginning. You looked forward to your workouts each day. You were doing more and harder exercise than you thought possible. You were able to keep to your diet with near perfect resolve. You felt fabulous and it seemed like it would never end!
But then a strange thing occurred. Your motivation just sort of waned. Maybe a little injury got in your way. Or a vacation interrupted your flow. Or you stepped on the scale and noticed you’d hit a plateau. Whatever the reason, suddenly you’re just not quite as gung ho as before. Maybe that lack of excitement has you working out a little less. Or eating a little more. What happened to that motivation?? Is there a way to get it back??
When we first start a new fitness or nutrition regime, there’s often a definite honeymoon period where our motivation soars. The subsequent dips in our motivation are a completely normal part of life, and part of the fitness journey is figuring out how to get beyond them. Below are a few tips for picking your motivation back up when you’ve hit a low point.
1) Renew Your Goals
Often a dip in motivation can simply mean it’s time to reevaluate our goals. At the beginning of our program, our goal might have been broad – to exercise 5 days per week or to eat 5 small meals per day. If those things are now an automatic part of our day, it might be time to add in a new challenge focusing on a specific aspect of our plan. Ask yourself what you can do to challenge yourself at this stage in your diet and exercise program. A simple challenge can help switch things up and boost your motivation.
Some examples might be challenging yourself to eat 5 whole servings of vegetables per day for two weeks or adding an additional high intensity interval workout into your week. You could also consider upping your weight in your current exercise or committing to getting more sleep. Goals are all the more powerful if they are measurable – if there are numbers attached. Consider creating your goals in the following format: “I will eat 5 servings of vegetables per day for two weeks,” or “I will go to bed by 11 pm and get 8 hours of sleep every night for 2 weeks.”
2) Stay Away From The Scale
If your lack of motivation has anything to do with numbers on the scale it might be smart to weigh yourself less often. The scale isn’t the most accurate way to measure success, and it certainly isn’t the only way. Your weight in pounds can be affected by a host of factors on a day to day or even hour to hour basis. These include foods you’ve eaten, water intake, waste elimination, hormones, muscle growth and other factors.
Instead of focusing on weight, begin to shift your focus to other measures of success. Focus on how you feel now as opposed to when you started. Do you have more energy? Do you feel stronger? Do you have more stamina? If you need to link your goals with changes in your physical body, take circumference measurements once per month or take note of changes in how specific items of clothing fit on your body.
If you do choose to weigh in, consider stepping on the scale just once a month. Your month to month weight variation is a more reliable measure than day to day or week to week.
The act of writing down our goals for the day, week and month and then tracking them will help make them a reality. This is something that pretty much every self improvement guru from Brian Tracy to Stephen Covey to Anthony Robbins agrees upon. Writing goals helps you focus on what you really want, gives you direction, serves as a reminder and helps keep you on track. Looking at your own goals on a daily basis can also be a great motivator.
In addition to your goals, consider keeping a food and exercise journal. Writing down the foods you eat each day, your workouts, hours of sleep, number of glasses of water drank or any other goals you are tracking will help hold you accountable. Since many of us move throughout our day eating on autopilot, the food piece of the journal can be crucial to you keeping tabs on your nutritional goals. It can also help us spot problem areas that might be keeping us from achieving our weight loss goals.
4) Reap the Rewards
Incentivizing ourselves with a reward can be very helpful in getting us to our end goal. The key to creating a good reward is that it shouldn’t be linked to pounds, but to behaviors. The reward should be something that allows us to nurture ourselves but that doesn’t involve food. A great example might be to reward yourself with a massage or a spa day if you can log 20 workouts in a month. Or buy yourself a new cookbook for each week you successfully eat according to your nutrition plan.
In addition to linking rewards to behavior, make sure that your rewards aren’t so long term (several months or a year away) that they seem unattainable. Be sure to make the reward something that you would really enjoy but that you might not otherwise splurge on. If the reward reinforces part of your healthy lifestyle (such as a sports massage, new workout clothes or a healthy cookbook) all the better!
5) Have a Heart to Heart – With Yourself
When you find your motivation waning, have an open heart to heart with yourself. Ask yourself what might be causing the lack of fire, and what you might do to get it to burn bright once again. The key is to be open and gentle with yourself and not to criticize yourself. Then, find whatever it is that will get you just to stick with it and not give up on yourself during this tough time. This regular communication with yourself is a big part of what make nutrition and fitness become a lifelong habit rather than a periodic quick fix.
The truth about motivation is that it’s something we need to work on every single day. Each day is filled with new challenges that have the capacity to get in the way of our goals and progress if we let them. Part of our fitness journey is to accept that those challenges are part of life and work WITH them rather than letting them work against us.
One of the biggest motivating factors for exercise is having a routine we really enjoy doing day after day. Our ladies on Team Athlean report that they really enjoy both the Athlean-XX for Women DVD and “Girl on the Go” Cards gym workouts because they are fast-paced and involve types of movement that are actually fun! There are also 3 different workouts per muscle group to choose from so that you’ll stay challenged and motivated. Athlean-XX for Women also has built in challenges to help you track your progress using your own physical strength and stamina. We provide you with a tape measure so that you can take your measurements once per month rather than focusing on numbers on the scale. If you’re looking for a fitness and nutrition program that will keep you challenged and motivation, we invite you to join us on Team Athlean!
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