People are motivated by different desires such as to be fit, lose weight, make friends, and finish a particular distance/race. Most people’s motivation is not fueled from just one source either, it’s a combination of various desires.
Underlying these desires are the core needs of people everywhere: to survive, be accepted/loved, and accomplish goals. These basic needs are what you are tapping into to keep your fire going.
The more of these underlying needs that are wound up in your motivation, the stronger your motivation will be and the less likely you are to become burned out.
You have to be able to stick to the program long enough to feel your needs being met. This usually takes about four weeks of consistent exercising especially if the need is survival AKA weight loss and other health benefits.
People who have never exercised or stuck to an exercise program start with goals, which are too big and they get discouraged when their progress is slow. Or they become exhausted and can’t keep up the program. Goals must be achievable and measurable to help maintain motivation. Start small, starting is better than not starting, so even if your goal is to run one lap at the elementary school without stopping it is better than doing nothing. You can’t start too small.
Find a way to track your progress. There are a million apps for smart phones that will help track fitness. You can also get a notebook and track your speed, distance, and weight. Watching these numbers change is encouraging.
Let go of any slip-ups. If you miss a day, don’t just give up. If you miss two days, so what, get back on the wagon. If you have a hard day, that’s okay everyone does. Guilt is not very motivating, progress and change are, build your foundation on progress.
Don’t compete with other people, only with yourself. That way you always win. Focus on doing better than you did the week before. This is critical in the beginning. If you start looking around the gym at the people who have been exercising for years, you will get discouraged. Let it go and be ok with where you are starting because at least you are starting.
Hang out with people who are supportive of your exercise program, your cheering squad. Stay away from Debbie downers. Your internal critic is enough to deal with, you shouldn’t have to deal with external critics too.
Exercising is hard. You have to find the fun in it one way or another. There are lots of ways to add to the experience such as finding a partner in crime, listening to music, playing games with yourself, and rewarding yourself when you have completed your weekly goal. Try to not make rewards sugary treats, instead go for a nice pair of socks, new songs from iTunes, or a sweatband with a funny saying.
Make exercising as convenient as possible. Eliminate excuses of being too tired or not having time. Twenty minutes is better than zero. There are a bunch of exercise videos for free online. Youtube has a bunch as well. It’s too cold/hot outside, stay in and do around of kick boxing or yoga. Too tired, get up a little earlier and go to bed at a reasonable hour. You have to make exercising a priority.
If you can do these things and stick to the program for four weeks, you will start to see changes in your body and your attitude. Exercising will become a habit and easier to maintain. Your desires for weight loss, fitness, friends, and running a marathon get closer. Your needs for survival, acceptance/love, and success/accomplishment begin to get satisfied.
Exercise becomes the best addiction you have ever had.