It’s 2 weeks into the New Year, and if you’re struggling with sticking to a fitness-focused resolution, we’re here to help. But first, we want to challenge your way of thinking on it.
While we love the energy around the new year and positive mindset of setting healthier goals, actually maintaining a healthy lifestyle has nothing to do your New Year’s resolution. Living a healthier lifestyle is not a once a year decision, it’s an accumulation of daily choices.
A different way of approaching your fitness goals
We’re fans of James Clear’s rule of continuous improvement when it comes to this topic. He says:
“Optimize for tomorrow—as in, literally, one day from now. Save to be a little richer tomorrow. Exercise to be a little fitter tomorrow. Read to be a little smarter tomorrow. 1% better every day.”
When you think of that way, it all becomes a bit easier. You can do just enough today that gets you closer to your goal tomorrow.
And that brings us to the most common New Year’s resolution: to exercise more. If this is one of your goals, we challenge you to adopt this ‘continuous improvement’ mindset. Instead of imagining yourself working towards a fitness goal to be realized by the end of the year, focus on the goal you’re achieving one day at a time. It can be hugely helpful in approaching your fitness goals and building habits for the long term.
That said, there’s something this doesn’t fully address, and it’s actually the hardest part of any exercise routine: maintaining motivation.
Why exercise motivation matters as much as exercising itself
We’ve all been there before; our workout clothes are packed in our gym bag, we’ve remembered to pack sneakers AND socks, and we’ve even made a plan for when we want to workout. Yet somewhere in the day we find a momentarily satisfying excuse for not doing it.
That initial decision to pass on exercise can taste like sweet relief, because honestly, it’s a lot easier to not work out. But usually, that feeling sours quickly, and we start thinking “I should have” or “could have” exercised today. The worst part about this is that it leads into a negative thought generating cycle that can be hard to break, making the motivation for exercise even harder to find.
But the only way to reach your fitness goals, is by putting in the time and hard work; and in order to do that, you need the motivation to stick with it. That’s why exercise is as much a mental fight as it is a physical feat.
And it’s why we want to talk about exercise motivation today – so you can set yourself up for a healthier fitness habits all year long.
3 Tricks To Maintaining Motivation For Exercise
1. Practice, Practice, Practice:
This is effectively the continuous improvement rule in action. Consistency and sustainability are everything in building routines. What’s important to remember is that this doesn’t mean you need to do an intense workout every time you exercise, and your workouts don’t have to look like everyone else’s. It just needs to work for you.
A 15 minute morning walk around your neighborhood counts. A 10 minute ab circuit before sitting down for dinner counts. An easy yoga flow on the weekends counts!
Mix it up, find what makes you feel good, and make that your thing. Even if the workouts are short, it counts towards your progress. Practice leads to progress over time, and that’s what feels good. As soon as exercise starts feeling good, that’s when it gets really hard to stop.
2. Respect Your Time Off:
We talked about making a choice every day to meet your fitness goals, but don’t forget that time off is equally as important as time on. Recovery and rest days are a really important part of your fitness routine and maintaining your motivation.
Think of it this way: if you’re not resting and recovering properly, you’re effectively sabotaging future workouts. Asking too much from your body without giving back to it can lead you to start associating exercise with bad feelings, which won’t support exercise motivation.
Additionally, skipping your rest and recovery days increases your risk of injuring yourself. Injuries harm exercise motivation because they require you to break the habits you’ve built until you’re healed, at which point you have to start all over again. Don’t skip the rest days.
3. Be Your Own Biggest Cheerleader:
Positive reinforcement goes a long way: are you recognizing your exercise efforts? If you’re waiting to applaud yourself for your hard work once you’ve reached some elusive ‘goal’, you might be waiting a long time. Then you start to question, “why am I doing this?”, or “what is it really giving me?”.
It’s important to recognize your efforts and reward yourself after every workout. And we mean every workout: even on the easy days where all you got in was a 10 minute stretch, always on the good days where you crush a tough workout and finish with an endorphin high, and especially on the hard days where exercising just didn’t feel good. Never stop cheering yourself on.
How are your fitness resolutions going? Let us know in the comments below! For more fitness guidance and motivation support, be sure to download the Baby2Body iOS app.