Work out, burn out, give up, repeat. If you’re anything like I used to be, you know how it feels to kick yourself for giving up yet another workout program.
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You also know the thrill that comes with starting a new routine. We crave novelty and quick results, and every new “commitment” to an exercise regime is an exciting opportunity to reinvent ourselves.
Of course, things don’t always go according to plan, and it’s easy to give up when the going gets tough. Here’s a three step technique to staying motivated to work out.
Step 1: The Reason You Burn Out
Building a new habit is hard. When you burn out, it’s usually because you’ve taken an overly optimistic approach to working out.
If you don’t already have a workout routine, you probably aren’t going to suddenly start running 5 miles a day. Starting out, it’s easy to set lofty goals because of excitement, but it’s also easy to bite off more than you can chew.
Being overly optimistic is one problem. The other is that you don’t plan for when things go wrong. If you want to run every day, what will you do when you feel exhausted after work, need to go grocery shopping, or just get sore?
Step one is setting reasonable goals. You don’t need to start big; you just need to start.
Step 2: Identifying Roadblocks
Anticipating the challenges that you’ll face on the way to getting fit is incredibly important. If you aren’t prepared for the times that “life gets in the way,” it’s easy to convince yourself that it’s ok to make exceptions and skip workouts.
On the other hand, if you know exactly what your key challenges will be, you can plan for them. Instead of saying “I can make up this workout tomorrow” (and then never making it up), you can put your plan into action and stay on track.
In order for this to work, you have to get very specific about the roadblocks you’ll encounter. It’s not enough to say you skip workouts when you’re tired. Add details; the solutions might be different if you’re tired after work compared to being tired in the morning.
One useful question to ask is: when you skip workouts, what do you do instead? The answer is usually a roadblock to overcome.
Take 10 minutes and brainstorm as many roadblocks you can think of.
Step 3: Overcome Roadblocks
You now have a list of your biggest challenges. All you have to do is overcome them!
Easier said than done, but you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is than you might think. I used to be exhausted after work, and it was affecting my workouts. Having an afternoon coffee and pushing my lunch to 1pm instead of noon solved the problem.
Think of at least two ways to solve each roadblock. When a roadblock appears, you’ll be ready to beat it.
If you understand that lack of motivation comes from too much optimism, it’s easier to find solutions. Use these three steps to stay motivated and get fit.
Consider what could go wrong. Optimism and positivity are good, and you should strive to maintain them throughout your workout routine. At the same time, preparing for when things go wrong is what really keeps you going.