“They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.”
Today’s post is going to be all about workout motivation, and how to stay inspired to exercise! By far one of the most common questions I get asked on my YouTube channel, Tumblr and Instagram, is how I stay motivated to eat healthy and to exercise regularly. I decided that each question needed its own blog post, so here’s part 1: Exercise!! Look out for my eating healthy post within the next few days.
So, I have to be honest here. I am not always motivated to work out. I do not wake up each morning thinking, ‘boy I CAN’T WAIT to get my butt out into the freezing cold and go run for half an hour’. No, quite frankly, most days I’d much rather stay underneath my huge, warm duvet and sleep for an extra hour before I have to go to my lecture. However, I’ve been doing this healthy lifestyle thing for quite a few years now, and I’ve managed to learn some ways to help myself out in this motivation department, and today I’m going to share them with you.
Eat Enough Food
The first tip that I have, is really important, and I’ll expand on it much more in my next blog post, but it is to eat enough food. Eating enough healthy food is so, so important not just to having a healthy body, but also to actually having the energy and motivation to exercise. When I say eat healthy, I am not, in any way shape or form saying to eat less fats, or to cut carbs, or to eat lots and lots of protein and nothing else. That is not healthy.
What I mean when I say eat enough healthy food, is eat enough calories to keep you satiated and satisfied throughout the day. Make sure that you’re not under eating (in my humble opinion, anything below 1800 calories is under eating). You see, when you’re not eating enough, a few things happen. Two of these things are:
- You lack energy. Of course you do. Our bodies need to be getting an adequate amount of calories per day in order to function optimally. So, when you’re under eating, every single calorie that you eat will go straight to keeping you alive, to keeping your heart beating and your organs functioning, and you will have no energy left over after that to make you feel good, to make you productive, motivated, energetic, happy. You’ll be irritable, bored, always thinking about food and always just wanting to go and do anything other than exercise.
- You suppress your metabolism and prevent yourself from getting fit and healthy. Your body will put the energy that you’re giving it to the most important parts of your body first, in order to keep you alive. It’s like a hierarchical structure, which means that other, not so important things, like your hair, nails, skin, teeth, energy levels, etc. will suffer as a result of under eating. When you’re not giving your body enough calories, it has to be sparing with how it uses the energy you do give it. So, your body is likely to want to hold on to as much fat reserves as possible, so that it can use them as energy further down the line when this famine gets worse and worse (your body does not care about your ‘goal weight’, your body cares about keeping you functioning as a living, breathing human being, as keeping hold of reserves for future periods of starvation is part of this, triggered by any current or past periods of starvation you have put it through).
Definitely, definitely make sure that you’re eating enough calories to allow your body energy left over after keeping your internal organs healthy, otherwise you just won’t have the energy or drive to exercise.
Eat Healthy Food
As well as making sure that you’re eating enough food, you need to make sure that you’re eating the right kinds of foods. That means lots and lots of healthy plants; eat the food from the earth!! It’s not about eating clean, it’s about eating the food that our bodies naturally will be able to most efficiently digest and take up energy from. It’s no secret that the more fruit and veg you eat, the better!!
I’d say as a rule, have at least half of each plate that you eat be taken up by fruits and/or veggies. Foods like potatoes, rice, beans and squashes are also amazing energy foods. When you’re eating healthy, and you know you’re eating healthy, you’re going to have enough energy left over to exercise, and you’re going to want to exercise, because you’ll be in that mindset of healthy living, and you’ll want to honour the kinds of foods that you’re putting into your body!!
Choose an Exercise that you Enjoy
There is absolutely no point in forcing yourself to run if you hate running. It’s true that running is hard at first and gets easier the more you do it, but if you dread your morning run, if it sounds like the worst idea ever to you, if it hurts your ankles, shins, knees, or if you just would rather be doing anything else but running, then it sounds to me like you are not a runner, and if you’re not a runner, don’t force yourself to run.
This is important because if you try to commit to an exercise that you hate, then you’re going to struggle on a daily basis to go through with it, and thus staying motivated to work out will be all the more difficult for you. Instead, have a think about what your goals are, what you enjoy doing and what motivated you. If you really want to get that strong, tight, toned look, then try out weightlifting. If you’re super self-motivated, then you can go it alone and watch yourself improve. If (like me), you need that extra little push, then find a workout buddy (preferably someone who already regularly lifts weights, so that they can motivate you to go to the gym rather than convince you to skip sessions).
Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, be that team sports, dancing, hiking, running, cycling, boxing, yoga, cheerleading, gymnastics, swimming, martial arts, parkour, do that. If you’re doing something that you enjoy anyways, you’re much more likely to be motivated to work out. In fact, a lot of the time you won’t even see it as a workout, but just a hobby that you enjoy doing, you’ll probably even look forward to your sessions!
Set Some Goals
I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to set yourself goals! Get yourself a lifestyle planner, or a bullet journal or something similar, and write out a list of goals and when you want to achieve them by. Make sure they’re realistic, but also just big enough to keep you on your toes, keep you pushing yourself, and keep you progressing. When you hit your goals, reward yourself and set new ones.
We all work best when we have something to work for. Setting yourself goals is a great way to give each workout a purpose. When each workout has a purpose, skipping that workout will not be an option, because you know that it’s an important part of you reaching your goal!
Make a Plan
This is especially useful if you’re going to the gym or running, or doing anything that is self-motivated and not part of a class or organised sports team. If you’re just ‘going for a run’ with no particular mileage or time plan involved, then you’re probably not going to be getting the most out of your workout (and hence you’re not going to be able to actively see your progress, either). The same goes for if you’re just going to the gym with no particular plan, maybe just trying this machine then that machine for x minutes or x reps.
When you have a plan, you can start your workout with that goal in mind. Knowing what’s next helps you to get through the difficult parts, because you know it’s either going to end or change in some way soon. You’re more likely to put up with a particularly difficult exercise for longer knowing that you’ve planned to do it, and you know what’s coming next.
Also, if you make a plan and track your time or your miles or the weights you’re lifting, it’s easier for you to set realistic goals and watch yourself meet them, as well as being able to actively track your progress with each session.
I hope that these points have in some way motivated you or helped you out when it comes to decided what exercise regime fits best for you personally. I have tried many different ways to motivate myself and I have come to the conclusion that I need a mixture of self-motivated sessions (e.g. a morning run) and some group exercise (I attend pole fitness sessions, and I’m a cheerleader) in order to keep things fresh and interesting.
I’d love to hear about what you do to stay motivated to exercise, and what your favourite ways to get active are! It’s always helpful to learn from others 🙂
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace”