There are many days I come home after class, and the weight of the day pulls me to my bed. I lay down, and I say, “I’ll workout after I nap.” My eyes drift shut, and I hope to only sleep an hour. I sit up suddenly and look at the clock. Darn… Did I really sleep two hours? My day has shortened, and I no longer have time to work out. My priorities have shifted to doing school work.
“I’ll workout tomorrow,” I say… but didn’t I say that yesterday too?
When rushing from class to class, studying, working, and finding time for sleep, many students like myself find it difficult to stay committed to working out regularly. Many desire to be active and healthy, but many say they “don’t have the time” or that they are “too tired”. I have told myself these things many times, and quite frankly, I know that these are excuses. Let us face it, if there is time to no-life Netflix, there is definitely time to sneak in a moderately-intense workout.
Although often easier said than done, you have to find motivation. You have to make yourself want a healthier body. Not only do you need to find the motivation to start, you need to find the motivation to continue, because without commitment and consistency, there will not be any results.
Here are 9 tips to help you find the motivation and to continue to have it.
- Changing your mentality
Shia LaBouf in his infinite wisdom said, “Yesterday, you said tomorrow!” This can be applied to school, to paying bills and to your health. But know that when you are saying, “I don’t feel like working out today”- it is actually the best day to work out. Allowing yourself to become lazy becomes a gateway to continuously skipping workouts and becoming less active. This means that there is a lack of consistency and a lack of dedication.
To help change your mentality, you can watch motivational Youtube videos such as Mindshift- Motivational video, Motivational Speech~ How Bad Do you Want It?, and other speeches by speakers like Les Brown and Eric Thomas. These videos can help you hunger for your goals. They help you visualize what you want. They help you realize that your dreams can become reality. The videos truly point out that “if you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.”
- Creating simple, realistic goals
Many look at fitness models on Instagram and immediately want that body, but they do not understand that it often takes several months to several years to achieve muscle separations and mass. Not every girl can get a butt-shelf by squatting for only a month, and not every guy can get built like Dwayne Johnson by benching twice a month. If you are beginning weight training or any other physical activity, it is important to start slow and formulate a realistic goal.
If you are confused on how to create a goal, the CDC’s SMART Principle is a good place to start. In order to make positive change, you need to identify what you would like to accomplish, create a plan, and carry it out. For example, if I was applying the SMART Principle, I would like to specifically increase the mass and strength of my biceps within a month. I can measure my progress before and after by taking a circumference of my bicep and recording the weight I was able to lift. This is attainable, because I am not injured. It is relevant, because it would help me be stronger. It is time bound for I have given myself a month to make progress.
If you can create a plausible goal, there is no stopping you from attaining it!
- Tracking your goals
When you create simple, realistic goals, you are able to track your progress. This is a great form of encouragement, because you can see the physical changes occuring. You can track your goals by writing down the workout and recording the number of sets, reps, and the weight you were able to accomplish. If you think pen and paper are too old-fashioned, there are phone apps like Strong and Gym Hero that accomplish progress tracking.
You can also have a bi-weekly progress tracking of your circumferences. It is important to measure circumferences at a specific time of day so that the tracking is consistent. The morning before you eat is typically best, because you have not broken your fast. Our bodies can change dramatically throughout the day due to variances in diet. Because you most likely will not be consuming the same foods every single day, the assortment of foods can affect your body composition in different ways. This leads to a less accurate and precise measurements.
Take pictures of yourself in the beginning, and take pictures of yourself after your bi-weekly checkpoint. If you do that continuously, you will see how much you have progressed. You can even track your goals just by seeing if old clothes fit you. For me, I wanted a squat booty. After about a year of weightlifting, I noticed that my legs had become thicker and more muscular, and I had to struggle-dance into my jeans. Although I was sad because I had to spend money to buy more pants, it encouraged me to strive for that squat booty, because I knew that all the hard work I was putting in was working.
- Educating yourself on what you’re doing
Not all of us can take classes to learn kinesiology, but you can take an active role in understanding what you are doing. This can be anything from teaching yourself proper lifting technique, to teaching yourself the benefits of warming up, stretching, and rest days, and even searching for ways to shock your workout. Educating yourself on the physical activity engages you, and can motivate you because you know how and why you are performing certain movements. Now you understand it- go do it!
I use resources such as bodybuilding.com, the CDC, personal trainers on Instagram, and various Youtubers like ATHLEAN-X. Bodybuidling.com and ATHLEAN-X are great for finding videos regarding the mechanics and movements that can be integrated into your workout.
- Setting a Regular Workout time
Even when you think you do not have time to be physically active, you actually do. The CDC identifies ways to overcome barriers such as lack of time. It recommends identifying at least three 30-minute available time slots for physical activity by monitoring your schedule for a week. After setting that regular workout time, make it a top priority instead of an event that you just brush off. Set an alarm to remind yourself to workout.
For those of you who think 30 minutes is too much, Hector Mallar, personal trainer at Lifetime Athletic in Atlanta and Athens Personal Fitness, recommends at least 10 minutes of activity to spike your heart rate and to get your heart pumping. In this time you can do a 10 minute circuit of squats, jumps, burpees, push ups and lunges. Using these exercises to target large muscle groups allows blood to be rapidly pumped through the body, causing your heart rate to increase.
While you’re trying to avoid “Netflix and Chill”, you can do a quick 10-minute workout! We all have 10 minutes at some point in the day, don’t we?
Have you ever surrounded yourself with certain people and discovered that you started to think like them? Find someone to workout with! Find someone who wants to be healthy just like you. Finding a workout partner who motivates you and pushes you will help you stay consistent. That person will help you better yourself, and at the same time you will help them. You can find someone who is at your level, so you can make the journey together or you can find someone who is more experienced so they can share knowledge.
Do not be intimidated by a more experienced person, because at some point they were just as inexperienced as you. Experience and muscled bodies come with time, dedication, and consistency. You should view those that are more fit than you as an opportunity to better yourself and learn from them. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions about their journey, and don’t be afraid to ask for their help.
- Finding something fun that you enjoy to do
I’ve heard from many people that they “hate exercise”. One way to keep exercise from becoming a chore is finding a way to make it fun and enjoyable. This can be done by finding an entertaining activity or a good instructor who motivates you or both. At Ramsey, they have Zumba, Boxing, Kickboxing and many other conditioning classes. If classes are not your thing, you can play ultimate frisbee and Quiddatch on the Myers Quad. If you love a sport, check to see when the Intramural Teams and the Club teams are playing and get involved!
Not only does this help you get physically active, it surrounds you with others who enjoy exercise! Your teammates, coach and people in your class can help motivate you (refer to tip 6).
- Keep moving!
Too many of us have tried programs like P90x or Insanity and failed to stay committed (I am definitely one of those people). Often we are too fatigued to commit to such program, and we would rather sleep on the couches in Snelling and hold down the fort in an MLC room than get up and move around. There are studies that have been done which show that sitting all day and without getting up leads to more fatigue than actually standing up and moving around. It is important to keep moving in order to maintain energy up throughout the day and to help prevent chronic pains from sitting. Take the stairs, fast walk up Ag Hill, stand up and do some squats after 15 minutes of studying. It is time to get moving so you can have energy in you to accomplish more throughout the day!
- Don’t get discouraged and don’t be afraid!
Doubt is a dream and motivation killer in any circumstance, especially strength training. Doubt can be fueled by two big things- people constantly compare themselves to another more fit person and they are often afraid. They are afraid of looking foolish and trying something new, they are afraid of hurting themselves, they are afraid or intimidated by those better than them, and they are afraid of failure. Fear-based decision making allows fears and worries to dictate decision making.
To overcome a fear of injury, learn how to warm up and cool down, learn how to exercise appropriately for your age and health risks, and choose activities with minimum risk. If you have back and knee problems, you probably should not be squatting extremely heavy, and if you are a beginner you should not be performing cleans and jerks without help. When in doubt, consult your doctor regarding your health and ask if certain types of activity are suitable for you.
Doubt and fear can also arise when you do not think you’re seeing progress. One thing that I have learned is that you should not base your progress off your weight. Weight is not an accurate indicator of progress especially if you start strength training. When strength training, you develop lean muscle, and muscle weighs more and is more dense than fat, so you may end up weighing more than you did initially. If possible, try to attain a body composition measurement. BuiltLean’s “5 Ways to Measure Body Fat Composition” provides pros and cons to the 5 ways to measure body fat.
When being afraid of failure, it is important to remember that everyone fails. But when you are pushed two steps back, can you overcome yourself and move five steps forward? Strength training and physical activity is all about progress and working toward a goal. Sometimes we fall short of those goals, but it is best to take a step back and evaluate what was wrong and what you can do to improve yourself.
Another thing that can decrease motivation is the sickness of comparing yourself to someone else and their body. I’m doing the same things they are, so why don’t I look like that? Why am I not cut yet? It is important not compare yourself to others who may progress faster than you. Genetics, diet, and dedication play a large role in determining and limiting body types. For example, some may have faster metabolisms, have a greater propensity to “get swoll”, and have a greater ability to retain water. Some may eat extremely clean by performing meal preparation and by counting their macronutrients (tracking how much fat, carbohydrate, and protein consumed in a day). Some may do two-a-days at the gym, train for hours at a time or they just might be pushing themselves harder. If your goal is to look more like that person, you should ask yourself if you are doing all you can to achieve that physique.
Now that you have read these tips, it is your responsibility to go out there and employ them! In almost all cases, the biggest obstacle is yourself. Ultimately, you are the only person preventing yourself from achieving a goal. Doubt and fear are barriers in your mind and you must visualize yourself beating that barrier down and taking charge of your health and taking that body you want. You can achieve the health and the body you want if you can develop dedication and self-discipline.