We all know that having an active and healthy lifestyle is good for your mind, body, and your spirit. But it turns out it is also good for your skin tone! Researchers have found after just 12 weeks the skin tone of active people aged over 65 closely resembled that of 20 to 30-year-olds. Amazing right!
Appreciating your body and all of the amazing things it does for you day in and day out is something we all need to do more of. So, the challenge really is with our minds? How many times have we said, “I don’t have time to exercise today”? Or “I don’t fancy a run so I am skipping it and I will just run longer tomorrow”? We need to stop trying to convince ourselves that we are worth it because we really are worth the investment of time and effort. Finding that deep connection with yourself, that level of self-respect and kindness, and start putting yourself first so we can maintain a good level of health, fitness, and well-being.
So maybe the trick is to try and understand what is driving you? And change the narrative? Try and set realistic goals you can achieve and slowly introduce change with your diet and your workout schedule so you can turn these new habits into a lifestyle change that will last longer than 21 days.
Remember, building body confidence takes time and comes from staying motivated, consistent, and believing in yourself. So, we’ve compiled a list of 12 practical ways to help you stay motivated and on track to meet your fitness goals.
1. Sign a commitment contract
We all make promises to ourselves day in and day out, especially the classic New Year resolutions which never really last. But, research has shown that we are more likely to follow through with commitments when we make them in front of friends and family. Perhaps agreeing to pay a fine to a friend or family member every time you skip your workout? So this is a great start but what if we upped the ante even more and signed a contract?
In studies of people who created online contracts via the site stickk.com, found they ended up exercising more than those who didn’t sign a contract and they maintained their new routine. Getting past the initial experience of displeasure helps us to recognize the longer-term benefits of exercising regularly and making it a part of a daily routine without giving it a second thought.
2. Positive thinking
The power of a positive mind will show you the roots of success lie in the mind. Changing your thoughts will change your attitude and in turn, will help you to become a more optimistic person who defeats worry and negativity. People with a positive mind also see multiple solutions to problem-solving and have more energy, self-confidence and are more likely to achieve goals set by themselves.
Start by expecting the best, not the worst. Believe in yourself and use your strength of mind to restore your energy levels. Don’t be afraid to stop what you are doing even for just 10 minutes and take that walk! Replacing negative thoughts with positive statements such as “I can do this” and “I’m not afraid to fall because it will make me stronger and better next time”. By decluttering your mind and conditioning it to expect positive results will teach you to think positively about every situation.
3. Find your tribe
What will ultimately inspire you to get up and start moving is a strong, supportive community. The laughs, high fives, and words of encouragement from the bonds people make are things money simply can’t buy. You don’t necessarily need to join a gym to find your tribe. Asking your friend or colleague to join you in a home HIIT workout, or a walk or run in nature will help you to stay committed and connected.
4. Mix it up
One workout plan can work temporarily, but it won’t work forever. To keep your motivation running at top speed and recondition your body you need to periodically change your workouts. It’s also a smart idea to try different types of cardio workouts and resistance training within the week. For example; Try this:
2 x HIIT workout
1 x long walk or a run
1 x swim
1 x yoga or pilates class
Variety really is the spice of life!
5. Create your space if you work out at home
Designating an area in your house for exercise can help you get in the right mindset and minimise distractions that could be a real motivation killer. Leave your phone in another room, you don’t need the distraction for the next 30-45 minutes. Spare bedrooms, basements, or even partitioning off the corner of the living room will give you a sacred space to practice yoga or bust out a round of burpees.
6. Use an app or free YouTube workouts
There are literally hundreds of fitness apps and YouTube workouts ranging from Yoga and Pilates to high-intensity interval training and bodyweight circuits. Choose one app and schedule daily workouts that focus on different fitness goals. Some workouts might require investing in some kit, like dumbbells, etc, but others will simply use your body weight and cost you nothing
7. Set your goals and visualize the outcome
Visualization techniques have long been used by professional athletes. By imagining a scene, complete with images of a previous best performance or a future desired outcome, the athlete is instructed to simply "step into" that feeling. While imagining these scenarios, the athlete tries to imagine the detail and the way it feels to perform in the desired way.
Another technique is called “mental contrasting.” In one study of 51 female students who claimed they wanted to eat fewer junk food snacks, researchers asked each woman to imagine the benefits of nibbling on better foods. Those who identified the trigger that made healthful snacking difficult for them, came up with a plan to reach for fruit when cravings hit. Most of the students were successful at sticking to their goals by implementing this technique.
So how can we apply this to our commitment to exercise? Perhaps you feel too tired to go to the gym after work? “After you imagine the obstacle, you can figure out what you can do to overcome it and make a plan,”. For example, you can switch to morning or lunchtime workouts or go straight to the gym instead of stopping at home first and pack an energy-boosting snack to prevent tiredness from kicking in.
8. Short on time set a 3 x 10 rule
If you are time-poor try taking a 10-minute walk, three times a day. Swap out the evening walk for a few squats, pushups, and crunches, and you’ll have a total-body workout. All of these mini-workouts add up quickly and make a big dent in your overall exercise minutes for the week.
By taking 3 x 10-minute breaks during your day is also an excellent remedy for reducing stress, giving your mind the chance to reset and gain perspective on a situation. Furthermore, researchers have found that walking as little as 10 minutes a day increases the size of your hippocampus (the region of the brain responsible for memory and creativity) so not only will your brain process and store memories but you will be thinking of bright ideas!
9. Give yourself a reward
Try making the benefits of working out more tangible by giving yourself a reward. Such as treating yourself to a delicious smoothie or an episode of your favourite Netflix series after your workout.
By creating a neurological “habit loop,” provides a trigger to the behaviour (like setting out your spinning shoes next to your bag), the routine (making it through spinning class), and then the reward. An extrinsic reward is so powerful because your brain can latch on to it and make the link that the behaviour is worthwhile. It increases the odds the routine becomes a habit.
10. Make sure you rest
Working out every day can take a toll on your body so make sure at least one day is devoted to rest and self-care. Ensure you have adequate recovery time between workouts and always stretch after exercise. Stretching large muscle groups should take around 5 minutes. Please ensure you hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds so the brain can register the correct length of the muscle and help it relax.
Too much of a good thing can lead to overtraining, which can land you flat on your backside and potentially out of your new routine for weeks to come. Signs of overtraining include decline in performance, deep soreness, strain, and pain which can lead to injury. Reduced appetite, irritability, and agitation, fatigue, sleep interruptions, and illness.
11. Don’t forget your plate
Unfortunately, you cannot out-train a bad diet. Ensure you eat a well-balanced diet containing 5 daily portions of fruit and vegetables. Protein, fibre and some dairy or dairy alternatives. If you’re not seeing the results you want, think about your stress levels as this can lead to weight gain. Read here for tips on managing stress. And try to make sure you’re getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night as sleep deprivation can lead to bad eating habits. You can read more on our sleep tips here.
12. Do what you love
Building a healthy relationship with your new exercise routine will ensure you maintain the motivation and stick to it long-term. So choose activities and workouts that you enjoy and look forward to, this also includes exercising at a time of the day that suits your schedule. Schedule your workout like a meeting, the same time every day is the best way to ensure you stick to it.
After all, we are here to find joy in our lives and be kinder to ourselves. You’ve got this!