Written by Jennifer Birch Staying motivated in a fitness journey can be challenging in the best of times. And between COVID-19 and the winter season, it's about to be that much easier to lapse on fitness. It's an understandable impulse right now to want to hole up, sip sweet lattes and binge Netflix. But this is no way to approach the season, or really any season when it comes to fitness! The key to good health and personal fitness is to find ways to motivate yourself consistently, so that you always have something to turn to that will get you up off the couch and into a workout. These motivating factors can of course look different for everybody, but I have some tips that might just get you started. Watch You Own Results — Not Others’ Finished Products This first tip is my personal key. You may have read a few notes on fitness in another piece her about what’s different now, in the time of COVID. Those notes concerned the idea that looking to elite models of perfect fitness (Zac Efron and Kelly Ripa) can be… well, almost more defeating than motivating. And that’s why I try not to do it! It’s easy to start a fitness routine wanting to look like your favorite shredded celebrity. But that’s longing — not motivation. You’ll be more motivated if you focus on your own results (even that first half a pound you shed) than on perfect, existing specimens. Establish Go-to Home Workouts A lack of motivation often comes from a lack of will to get out on a running trail or hit the gym. That’s particularly true during the winter (not to mention COVID has closed the gym option down anyway). So, to stop yourself from letting “I don’t want to go out” become an excuse, figure out a few go-to home workouts you can rely on. These can involve yoga, strength training, app programs, YouTube instruction, or just a few push-ups and sit-ups. But if you have simple, at-home workouts, you’ll be less likely to skip exercise altogether. Hire a Personal Trainer I know, I know…. Personal trainers can seem a little high-end. But the truth is this is a more common step toward more consistent fitness than you probably think. Plenty of gyms offer personal training services that many take advantage of, and during COVID there has bee much talk of people turning to socially distant or virtual training. Furthermore, thanks to a growing number of online education and certification programs focusing on fitness, the profession is actually growing a lot more common. According to one overview of programs for online exercise science degrees, we’re in the midst of a 10-year stretch expected to bring about 10% growth in personal trainers. In other words: Educated, experienced personal trainers are all over the place, and it’s completely normal to hire one! Give it a shot, and you’ll be ensuring you have help staying motivated. Give Yourself Small Rewards It may be the oldest trick in the book, but giving yourself small rewards works! The idea is to set up achievable, integral milestones along your fitness journey: five pounds lost, a run that lasts half a mile longer, a certain number of push-ups in a set, etc. You don’t want to overdo it, but by setting these milestones up you can draw up a sort of roadmap of tangible achievement. Reaching and celebrating those milestones will show you that progress is happening, which will motivate you to keep going. Compete! My last tip is to compete! And it’s not just my tip. This sort of thing is actually researched and analyzed regularly, and university studies on workout motivation have shown that competition can be extremely beneficial. Simply put, these studies show that when people are trying to out-perform one another — even good-naturedly — they are more diligent in their fitness efforts. So, the takeaway is simple! Find friends or possibly even strangers online to compete against in one routine or another and you may just find you have all the motivation you need.
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