Motivation; Hard To Find, Harder To Keep

The idea of getting fit, losing weight and eating better is always wonderful as a concept in your mind but requires something that most people are unwilling to sacrifice; time. The problem with any health and fitness goal you set yourself requiring time to reach fruition is that very few people have the mental fortitude to maintain self motivation throughout the process and for a sufficient amount of time to see that success. Motivation is often huge, positive and encouraging within the first few days and finds itself somehow dwindling as that “honeymoon period” reaches its natural conclusion. The challenging thing is managing your mental attitude, retaining focus and finding that motivation internally.

“Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.” – Les Brown

Motivation; Hard To Find, Harder To Keep – Starting Point

A problem that I, as a personal trainer and boxing coach, often recognise in clients is that their motivation seems to be externally derived and without that external pressure, inevitably their motivation lowers and disappears. Pressure such as this can come from your partner, your family, your work, your job or even something simple such as a holiday, a party or an important meeting. The real key to retaining motivation is to genuinely desire to reach your goal for your own benefit; for your own health, wellness and well being, physically and mentally. It is incredibly important to understand that your starting point must stem from your own mind and a genuine enthusiasm and desire to achieve your goal – whatever it may be. Here are a few great ways of maintaining motivation for longer when it comes to health and fitness:

  1. Training/Nutrition Diary – It sounds simple and, perhaps to some, long winded but with physical evidence of your training and diet you will be far less likely to cheat yourself and find it far easier to keep track of your progress towards your goal. Often a loss in motivation can stem from you plateauing in pursuit of your goal and finding it difficult to make progress – the diary gives you an opportunity to track every action you are taking to achieve your goal and therefore consistently improve upon them with smarter and more effective strategies and the knowledge of where and how you may have been going wrong. Diaries are also a great tool to bring to trainers and dietitians because it gives the professionals an understanding of your current physical state and routine enabling them to work from a position of knowledge.
  2. Progress Photos – I understand that to many people the idea of a “progress photo” is horrendous and humiliating and immediately brings to mind bikini clad women and boxer clad men shown all over Instagram making enormous improvements in what seems to be a matter of weeks. First and foremost, forget that idea – these people have the advantage of editing, lighting and most of the time are working with professionals to achieve their goals.Secondly, it’s important to realise that progress photos don’t have to be naked or barely covered. Progress photos can be taken wearing your largest pair of trousers or biggest top and then watch as your shape changes and the fit of the clothes change. Progress photos can also be used to track other things such as the food in your cupboards and fridge – take a photo at the beginning of your diet before you choose healthy options and then take a photo 30 days in when you’re sticking to the plan and seeing the benefits. Then remind yourself that the way you were eating in the past left you unhappy with how you felt or appeared physically and was, potentially, causing you health difficulties.
  3. Intelligent Goal Setting – It’s genuinely challenging to set a goal that doesn’t exceed potential, is realistic, achievable within a time frame and yet still leaves you feeling like you are actually achieving something. That being the case, it’s important to set your goals from the start (the integral starting point) correctly and as intelligently as possible. I suggest that you separate your goals into short term, medium term and long term with a strategy in mind to reach each of those goals within a selected time frame. Creating a goal without a plan of action for achieving it can cost you motivation and leave you feeling frustrated – figure out how you’re going to do it before attempting to start. another essential factor in setting goals is ensuring they are measurable. Whatever your goals may be, you have to have a way of measuring your progress towards those points and ensuring you are on the right track eg. body weight, BMI, body fat percentage (my personal favourite), cholesterol level, maximum dead lift, sprint speed, distance covered.

“I think it all comes down to motivation. If you really want to do something, you will work hard for it.” – Edmund Hillary

Motivation; Hard To Find, Harder To Keep – Honesty

Another problem that my time in personal training has opened my eyes to is how often people will lie to themselves in order to avoid accepting blame for their actions or to lay the blame at somebody else’s door. If you have read the sections above and you are in a position whereby you genuinely want to achieve your health and fitness goals for your own sake then the ability to honestly analyse and analyse your actions as well as accepting culpability and responsibility for those actions can be the difference between retaining motivation and not. When you are consistently blaming others for your own errors in judgement (such as bad food choices or missed training sessions) then motivation can often be more difficult to regain as, inevitably, by laying responsibility for your mistakes at the feet of others instead of yourself you will find yourself utilising those excuses more and more, convincing yourself that they are perfectly reasonable and acceptable and that you really are “trying your hardest” but things just keep getting in the way. “If you really want to do something, you will work hard for it” – avoid excuses, accept responsibility for your actions and don’t berate yourself for a mistake, just resolve yourself to correcting your error and aiming to do better in the future.

Motivation; Hard To Find, Harder To Keep – Sacrifice

Probably the greatest of problems people face when looking for motivation is a blatant unwillingness to make any kind of sacrifice in their day to day lives. This unwillingness to sacrifice can only end one way – abject failure. All success, throughout history, has required sacrifice to be achieved. Whether that sacrifice be in the form of takeaways, alcohol and chocolate or time, effort and laziness. When you are setting your goals you have to understand the level of intensity and focus required to make them achievable and, from the outset, be honest enough with yourself to recognise whether you’re genuinely willing to make the sacrifices required to follow the required strategy and structure.

“Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice…” – Napoleon Hill

Hopefully you have found some information here that will help you to maintain motivation and stay on the long and winding, obstacle ridden, challenging and painful path leading to success and achievement. From the beginning, accept that it won’t be easy, accept that it may not always be fun and remember that you’re doing it for your own reasons and your own motivation – something inside your mind that doesn’t require any external coal to fuel the fire, something that burns perpetually.

“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” – Carol Burnett

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins

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