Written by Imane
Image by @Melissaswardrobe
Winter is here and it is getting harder to pretend that it is not cold outside. We’d all rather stay indoors binging on junk and watching Insecure, knowing that doing just that is the most insecure way to achieve our dream body. I have learned throughout the years that relying on motivation alone fails you at some point because it’s just a feeling, often short-term. You cannot be motivated all the time nor do you even want to be, because who has time to be motivated every single day? Sounds exhausting! When all odds are against you (i.e. the cold, fatigue, and the 10,000 other things that adulting involves), strong habits will get you going.
Ever wondered why those fitness “freaks” are able to stay consistent at all times? Because they reach a point when they don’t rely on motivation alone. They’ve changed their mindset to make workouts non-negotiable parts of their day. They’re clear on their “why” and have developed strong habits around it. With this being said, building good habits requires motivation at first, and there are things you can do to make that happen.
Build a routine
When starting your fitness journey, it’s key to build a routine around your schedule, preferences, and other commitments. Plan and stick to your workout days/times as much as you can (regardless of the pandemic), even if you have to punch them into your calendar, but make sure to schedule them at times that work best with your lifestyle. For example, don’t plan to exercise in the morning if you aren’t a morning person; instead, aim for evenings or lunchtime.
Making it to the gym is one thing, but actually doing the work is another. Be clear on the exercises you want to do beforehand(if you don’t have a personal trainer) so that you don’t find yourself scrolling through the ‘gram whilst you’re supposed to be working out – we all know how that ends! As the saying goes, “fail to plan, plan to fail”.
Key questions when designing your routine:
– What time of the day am I most likely to workout?
– Should I workout at home or at the gym?
– How many times a week can I realistically workout?
– Where am I going to source my workouts from? (Books, social media, YouTube, personal trainer)
– Why have I failed in the past? What can I do differently this time?
Find a point of accountability
Build a system of accountability; whether it’s a workout partner or even someone who tells you off if you snooze your alarm – accountability partners force you to show up. Having someone to answer to on days you can’t be bothered (especially if you work out together) can be critical for your consistency because who wants to leave a friend hanging after agreeing to a workout date? Plus, it makes the workouts fun, puts someone at your disposal to rant to, and makes it more affordable to get a personal trainer by splitting costs.
No workout partner? Don’t you worry! You can stay accountable by giving yourself pep talks and documenting your fitness journey in a journal, crossing off the days you’ve trained, writing down the workouts you did as well as mark down the progress you’ve made and how you felt at each point. It’s great to keep a record so you can look back and see how far you have come.
Start small and build up
Start small and be realistic about your goals. It’s better to start small and build up than try to be extra and give up. For example: if you have the bandwidth to workout 4x a week, set up three non-negotiable days and one day as a bonus. This will prevent you from beating yourself up when life gets in the way. No one likes to fail, and failing affects motivation. Set yourself up for success by celebrating small wins, and building up from there.
Make it fun
Find an activity that you love and gets you excited. Let’s be honest, I know the pandemic has got people acting brand new, but change is hard and fitness should be fun (as much as possible anyway). Do you love swimming and want to work out 3x a week? Incorporate a swimming workout into your routine so that you have something to look forward to. If you don’t have a preference to begin with, try out different activities until you find the right one. In short, get away from any motivation killers until your habits are as hard as Kola nut.
Find what gives you energy. Is it food? Is it Netflix? A massage? Reward yourself with whatever matters to you, so you have something to look forward to and to help keep your motivation on 100% (or more like 80%). I particularly will do anything for food, and therefore have a cheat meal planned every Sunday. Be honest enough not to reward yourself if you have not been consistent.
Be patient and realistic
We are all humans and things happen. Get back on track as quickly as you can if you fall off the wagon. I stick to an 80/20 rule because I strongly believe life is about enjoyment, happiness, and balance. Being super strict is definitely the way to go if you want to give up as quickly as you started, which is why crazy diets and routines are a scam in my opinion as they don’t bring sustainable change. You want that cookie? Eat it, but eat a smaller one and get back to eating healthy immediately. Diet is a huge part of your fitness journey, and it goes hand in hand with exercise. Without a good diet, you can spend your whole life at the gym and not see the results you want. Go easy on yourself and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Allow for at least 8-12 weeks of consistency to see change.