Motivation can be tough. It can be hard to find your way to Motivation-land, and once you get there, it can be even harder to stay. It takes at least a month to turn a behavior into a habit, and that month will typically be rife with challenges. Because, you know, the minute you decide to give up sugar or beer the next three social outings your friends plan are a baking pot luck and outing to your favorite craft beer bar…
On top of that, some research suggests it can take up to 3 years to reset your body’s homeostasis (sense of balance) at a new weight. What this means is, if you lose 20 pounds, it can take 3 years before you body recognizes this as its new and healthy weight.
But all that aside, there are a few tricks you can use to help you get motivated and stay motivated. These include:
Set a short-term goal
Setting a goal can really help with motivation. Especially if that goal has some incentive or costs you something. If your goal is to run 6 miles by Christmas or PR your 5K time by the new year, you’re better off signing up for a race. Races cost money, so you lose something if you don’t follow through. If you’re trying to get in shape or eat a little better, challenge a friend to do it with you. Set a goal, make some rules, and put something up for grabs. You might think twice if eating that doughnut or skipping the gym might mean you have to buy your best friend dinner, give them your favorite shirt, or wear a tutu to work.
Make yourself accountable
This is one of my favorites. Set goals for the changes you want to make in your diet or training routine, and then TELL EVERYONE. As a bonus, often this will generate interest and even motivate others to eat a little better. It also helps to make changes with someone. Start eating Paleo with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Join a running club. Set a regular date to meet a friend at the gym. Check out the November Project going on in Boston. Most people do better in sports and in life when there are expectations from others. So get others to expect something awesome from you, and then go do it!
A great example of this is my friend Joe Kennedy. We met in college (go gators) and had a common interest in nutrition and fitness. Since college, Joe has been traveling the world and working as an engineer, with jobs taking him to places Alberta, Canada and Saudi Arabia. His work hours and frequent moves have often made things challenging. What I’m saying is, he has a couple of good, legit excuses about why he can’t workout or eat healthy. But he isn’t making ‘em. Instead, when he moved to Saudi, he created a website to log his fitness and nutrition routine. He’s keeping himself accountable and sharing what works for him in order to help others. I love reading his posts, so go check him out for a little motivation at http://joesdiet.com/.
Train with others
Other people are one of the best motivators out there. This is why group exercise classes, running clubs, and CrossFit work so well. As any CrossFitter will tell you, you just push harder when there’s another athlete next to you going through the same workout. I know I run a little faster and harder when I’m running with someone. Having a training partner allows you to compete a little, and both push each other beyond what you might do alone.
If you live in Boston and like (or want to try) rowing, the Renegade Rowing Club is a great opportunity to train with some other athletes this winter. Athletes in the Renegade Rowing Club will be training to compete in the CRASH-B’s in February. For those not familiar – CRASH-B’s are an indoor 2K erg sprint held in Boston. Rowing is a great full body workout and will help you build cardio endurance and power. As someone who never rowed before last year, it is pretty tough for me to get motivated to hit an erg workout, especially if it’s by myself. But last spring I started rowing with my friend Monica from CrossFit Boston. These rowing dates help me improve my technique and build endurance while healing from a nagging stress fracture. So if you need a short term goal, want to try a new and different workout, like rowing, or plan on doing CRASH-B’s, you should check it out here.
If rowing isn’t your thing, try a running club. CrossFit Boston members can join CFB’s Running and Endurance club and others in Boston can check out one of City Sports’ many running groups. If you don’t live in Boston, Google the name of your city and your fitness hobby of choice. Chances are you’ll find something!
Find a personal “cue”
Having positive thoughts and self talk are always a good idea. The better you feel about yourself and your results, the more likely you are to stay motivated. So develop a cue that will motivate you towards your goal. It can be a short statement, a well placed sticky note, or a daily reminder. At my gym, there are white boards placed around the gym where people can write down their goals. The boards are visible, and you see your goal every time you’re working out. Another great example is Olympic gold medalist Tim Mack (pole vault, 2004). He used his email address as a personal cue. A few years before the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, he changed his email address to “goldnathens” to remind himself daily of his goal, and to motivate him towards the things he needed to do to achieve it.
What to stay motivated? Set goals. Talk to other people about them. Stay accountable to others and yourself. And remind yourself regularly that you can, and will, get where you want to be!
So, what motivates you?