Motivation; it’s a funny thing. It seems to come and go on a whim, and it’s something I’ve been struggling with recently. The trouble is, I have very clear longer term goals that I know I’ve got to work hard for in order to achieve, but recently I’ve just been finding the daily gym grind difficult to stick with. And I don’t think I’m alone in this experience. When you’re at peak motivation it feels fantastic; that gym streak is effortless, meal prepping is a breeze and adding in cardio seems a cinch. But when motivation dips suddenly that 5.45am alarm clock is your worst enemy, and the idea of a healthy packed lunch seems dull, dull, dull. We’ve all been there right?
So what do you do when you’re in one of those motivation dips? Beating yourself up is obviously never the answer, and in my experience leads to a further spiral into complete lack of inclination to do anything. Turning to Pinterest and the so-called ‘fitspiration’ posts on there don’t help me all that much either, again just making me feel guilty for not having that drive again. In fact, it’s more prudent to remember that in reality, motivation is fleeting. And that’s ok. It comes, it goes. What’s more important is how you deal with that and how you keep yourself going in spite of it all. So here’s a few things I do when I’m dealing with lack of motivation to keep up that get up and go…
1. Change it up
Sometimes I think my motivation drops purely because I’m a bit bored. I’m currently running a really good, challenging programme, but it is the same thing each week. Fortunately, the programme changes every eight weeks, and even though I know I haven’t been being as consistent as I should be, I decided the best thing was to move on to the next eight week phase. Having different movements to perform has been a good little boost, providing a new challenge and some extra mental stimulation again so I no longer feel like I’m just going through the motions.
2. Reassess and modify goals
I’ve really been taking time to analyse my goals. As you may recall, I set a bunch of goals at the beginning of the year and I’ve actually come a long way in the last six months. When I truly think about it, some of those goals have really changed. Not necessarily because I’ve met them, but more because they’ve evolved. For example, my goal of achieving a ‘fitness physique’ has now become ‘let’s get on stage and compete in a bikini competition in 2018’. You can see how these two goals are intrinsically connected, but it’s taken really drilling down to having something more specific that’s reignited that drive for my aesthetic goal.
3. Check progress
I am really hard on myself when it comes to my own personal fitness progress, and yet the biggest cheerleader when it comes to anyone else. I’m really guilty of convincing myself that I’m not seeing any improvement, so I’ve recently been going through my workout logs to remind myself of the improvement in my lifts, rather than continuing to tell myself I’ve stalled. And what have I seen? Since January my bench press has gone up to 30kg, I’ve progressed from dumbbells to the olympic bar for my overhead press and I can now do three chin ups in a row, just to name a few achievements. I’ve also been taking more progress photos because, quite honestly, I’m terrible at objectively seeing how my body is changing. Progress photos have also been super helpful in showing me what I need to work on too. I know that I need better quad and back development if I want to compete from looking at photos. Rather than beat myself up about this, it gives me something to work towards. There’s always room for progress and I can’t wait to see those improvements in my photos over the next 10 months!
4. Ask for help
It’s ok to ask for help. I know it’s tough, I’m terrible at it personally. But if you’re struggling it is perfectly ok to reach out to someone to either vent to or to help guide you. After going it alone for a few months, I’ve decided that I need some guidance and an extra push to help me get to where I want to be. I’m therefore meeting with a bikini fitness coach next week and am hoping to get started on her programme in July. Hopefully giving me plenty of time to prepare for competition season in April! Sometimes a steer in the right direction and a little extra accountability is all we need.
5. Take a break
And then there’s the fact that motivation can disappear on your simply because you’re just pushing yourself a little too hard. We all hit a wall at times, and sometimes, rather than continue forcing it you need to take a little break. Last week I took my training down from my usual four of five days to just a two day full body split, and gave myself some extra lie-ins for a bit of a mental boost. This coming week I’m away enjoying the tennis in Eastbourne. I’ve got gym kit with me and I’ll try to fit in a couple of morning HIIT sessions down on the beach, but I won’t be going out of my way to find a gym as I normally would. I am going to enjoy having a little headspace for a week. Just that anticipation of having a break is making me super excited to get back in the gym again next week. Funny how it works like that.
Obviously there are so many ways that you can kick that motivation back into gear, but for me personally, it really all just comes down to learning how to be a little more kind to yourself. Taking stock, re-evaluating and having a break is not failing, it’s just good self-care. And we could all do with a little more of that really.
What tactics do you use for keeping up motivation levels? Have you tried any of my little techniques? Let me know!