The art of fitness motivation.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that you can not get a mean, lean bod by solely slogging away on cardio machines, and navigating your way around the gym can be difficult if you're unsure of where to start. Getting yourself there in the first place can be trickier still if you are lacking in motivation, and when it comes to eating healthily, self-control goes a long way to ensure that you have those occasional treats in moderation and stick to a well-balanced, nutritious diet. The road to a banging bod is as much about nutrition as it is exercise, and including HIIT (high intensity interval training) and weights into my workout routine has done a hell of a lot more than just cardio ever could. Determination to succeed is a characteristic that manifests in many facets of my life, including improving my fitness levels and my body, but how exactly do I motivate myself? It boils down to several things: a positive mindset, setting goals, recognising that both exercise and healthy eating boosts energy levels and maintaining a vested interest in my health and wellbeing.
My relationship with the gym blossomed when I started feeling the benefits of exercising. An increase in energy helped me focus tremendously during my last year of University when essays and exams were coming out of my ears and I treated workouts as a well needed break from hours of revision. Getting a sweat on actually helped clear my skin as it flushes out your pores, whilst steady improvements in my fitness levels and what I was able to achieve boosted my self confidence and body confidence. The more I started seeing results and muscle definition, the more motivated I became to continue my journey.
Establishing a realistic routine was very handy initially and I aimed to get to the gym around four times a week. I'd start with 10-15 mins on the cross trainer to warm up, vary cardio workouts on the bike, treadmill or crosstrainer for another 15 minutes before hitting the mats to do weights and abs exercises. I used Pinterest to discover handy workouts that I could follow from my phone, and gained confidence and knowledge for which exercises could target which parts of my body, here are a few examples of the workouts I use when hitting the mats:
During exam time, I'd be revising for eight hours a day before heading to the gym for an hour to let off some steam, followed by cooking a healthy but filling dinner to fuel the whole process again for the next day - fajitas, stirfrys and quick cook bulgar wheat with fish or chicken and vegetables were quick and easy favourites. Drinking plenty of water is also essential and I discovered that green tea is also great for boosting your metabolism, whilst a hot lemon water in the morning cleanses your digestive system.
Occasionally I organised gym dates with my gal pals which was another way of ensuring I kept motivated. You can chivvy each other on and have a bit of a natter while you're working out. It can be super fun vacating the gym for a bit of fresh air outside too - why not run around a local park with your pal?
For longer distances, running outdoors is way more fun. A little breeze and varying scenery helps you to stay motivated and push on. My friend Lucy decided to roller skate one time to change it up a bit! Having been hitting the gym frequently for the best part of a year and staying fit for the best part of two years now - (I was doing YouTube workouts at home during my year abroad for lack of a French gym membership, pretty decent and totally free) - my motivation levels are now pretty high and I challenge myself to improve by noting down times, distances, weights and reps for all of my exercises.
I do find however, that pretty gym wear goes a long way in keeping you motivated! I needed to get some new trainers due to the fact that I'd worn my old ones out and so am happily now bopping about in these babies...
Set yourself a goal to swap some naughty snacks for healthier alternatives food wise - have a lime and soda instead of a glass of coke. Don't buy in hoards of junk food if you know you don't have the self restriction to limit yourself to sensible portions, instead reward yourself with a favourite treat now and again in moderation. Don't be scared of carbs - good slow release energy foods like the ones I have listed in this post are great and are necessary if you begin to workout a lot, remember your body needs fuel to keep it going!
Carry the notion of goals through to your workouts. These goals don't have to be groundbreaking but you should aim to build on them each time, increase your ten minute run to a twelve minute run for example. Before you know it you'll be storming a 5k.
First thing's first, get together a great playlist that will help you feel fierce and motivated at the gym - it helps me EVERY session, start slow and then build it up as you go, listening to your body and setting realistic challenges that are achievable. This will feel more rewarding once you reach them. Keep a positive mindset and learn to love your body, seek to improve it for yourself and not for others as body confidence comes from the inside out.