By this point, everyone in the modern world is aware of the health risks associated with being severely overweight, but that doesn’t make it any easier to take that important first step and start an exercise and diet regime. Not a lot of people feel comfortable with making huge and sudden changes, particularly when they have gotten used to doing very little in terms of physical activity. This is why it is incredibly important to focus on the psychological aspect of fitness in the beginning stages of your body transformation. Motivation is a huge issue for those new to training, and it can be quite difficult to convince yourself to push on past sticking points, so we will be looking at some effective ways of boosting your morale.
1. Start doing the research right now, and keep learning about fitness as you go along
It is always good to see people who have decided to change their life for the better, but procrastination can stop even the simplest tasks dead in their tracks. Don’t think of it as some big ceremonious moment when you leave your old ways behind you, an event that has to be scheduled at the start of the week or month to symbolize a new beginning. Start planning things right now. Find all the information you can on different types of exercise, and healthy dieting, and focus on the options that best suit your lifestyle – you don’t have to become a vegan and start running marathons to get in shape.
2. Define your goals, write down your plan and put it on the wall
When you have gathered enough information to know when and how to start, and what kind of results to expect from different types of training, you can begin to define your goals. Ask yourself what it is that you want to get out of training, and how it can improve your life. Some people want to be lean with a visible six-pack and don’t care much about muscle mass, others want that strong athletic look, and some just want to fit into smaller clothes. Don’t go along with the latest fitness fad – define your ideal look and fitness level, and work on making it a reality. It’s best to have your end goal, as well as several smaller milestones written down and displayed on the wall, as sort of a reminder.
3. Find the right idol and role model to draw inspiration from
The best way to stick with the program is if you have someone to look up to. It can be a movie star, professional athlete, a character from a comic book or movie, or even someone you know. In fact, you can use an actor like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as your primary source of inspiration – picture him cheering you on before a workout or looking at you disapprovingly as you reach for a doughnut – and a more experienced lifter at the gym as a secondary source of inspiration. You can put motivational pictures up on the wall next to your fitness goals, so that you can get psyched up about training as soon as you get up in the morning and take a look at it.
4. Keep workout and diet journals
Doing things by feel may work for athletes and people with several years of serious training under their belt, but for someone just getting into fitness it is important to keep track of all the little variables. This will force you to be honest about the amount of effort you are putting in and help you gradually increase the intensity, and keep improving your strength and or endurance. You can have a simple notebook where you jot down the details of each workout, as well as the things you ate and their nutritional values, but there are also lots of fitness apps available that help track everything from the amount of walking you are doing to your macro nutrient intake.
5. Use multiple tools to track progress and take regular pictures of yourself
We’ve already mentioned apps as great tools for monitoring your progress, but you will need some additional help to accurately assess how well you are doing. Just looking at the scales is not the best indicator of progress, as you will gain some muscle mass which is much more dense than fat, and you can have slight weight fluctuations based on your water intake. This is why you should take pictures of yourself on a weekly basis, in addition to using the mirror, measuring tape and body fat calipers for the most realistic estimation. You can also look for feedback from friends who you haven’t seen in a while, as they often notice the smaller changes better than you can.
6. Find a workout partner with similar goals
There is nothing that will get you to the gym faster on those days when you feel like child who doesn’t want to go to school than a friend who had to get up early or change their plans so that you can train together. Just try to find someone who has the same goals as you, so that you help push each other during training. It is also nice to have another perspective on training, and someone to spot you during difficult workouts.
7. Remind yourself of the rewards you’ll reap from all your hard work every single day
Even if you’ve got everything set up so that your motivation is quite high most of the time, there will be days when you just don’t feel like doing much more than sitting in front of the TV with a huge pizza and a few cans of soda. These are the moments that will either help you forge an iron will, or slowly eat away at your resolve and cause you to give up on training. When you find yourself wanting to skip training or cheat on your diet, walk up to a mirror and remind yourself why you are doing this – i.e. the health and psychological issues that you want to avoid, as well as the benefits that you wish to achieve.
When all’s said and done, getting in shape is all about developing the drive that gets you off the couch and into the gym. Consistency is key for long-term results, and you need to find any way you can to motivate yourself to stick with the program. These are some useful guidelines to get you on the right track, but feel free to experiment and find your own unique ways of staying motivated.