Ever find yourself hunting for that desire to go and workout? Searching for a reason to get up early and go for a run? Longing for that kick that will get you into a gym routine? You and 100% of the population feel that way sometimes. Here I’m going to talk to you about that shiny buzzword known as motivation – the electricity that gets us out of bed and on the pursuit of our goals. How do we get hold of it? How do we use it to our advantage and most importantly, how do we keep it if we find it?
It all starts with you. Your motivation process is going to be completely unique to you. That glorious motivation that you want lies within you already. To find it we need to observe and become aware of what we see and what we hear to reprogramme our thoughts, away from any negative ones, towards positive ones.
So, let’s go looking for it.
We are going to use own sense, our vision and our hearing to cultivate the best motivational vision we can.
Firstly I want to tell you that I have been there. I have been where you are when you have zero fire to get up and go for what you want. After some upsetting medical news, I formed a complete rebellion against all things health and fitness. Fitness was something I had previously built my career and my hobbies and my own personal philosophy around, but somehow I had found myself in a place where I refused to exercise and I stayed away from all healthy foods.
You can imagine the changes to my body, my personality, and my self-esteem. When I tried to get myself back together, back in the gym, I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have the fire to get myself to stick to it, to even show up, or to finish a workout if I did show up.
I had filled my head with a need and want to ‘get away from who I was now’. This was always going to set me up to fail. Driving your motivation from a desire to get away from something is only going to remind you that you are currently in pain with the way you are, the way you feel or the way you look, whatever your goal may be. Trying to grow long-term motivation from a negative soil is only going to give you motivation like a sugar rush – a powerful surge that fizzles out sooner than it arrived. The key to longevity of motivation is growing it from a positive space, from the desire to be what or whom you want, from a state pleasure.
Realising that motivation needs to come from a place of self-love and not self-loathing can be a really difficult challenge. So first, we need to really make sure that you know what that desired state looks like.
This is a powerful tool in creating a motivating and inspiring image of yourself that you can picture whilst working on that fitness goal. Use a notebook, maybe create a physical vision board, or just some daydreaming, whatever your method, take your time, really picture and ask yourself, “who you want to show up as?” What do you want to look like, how do you want to feel, what do you want to be capable of? What does your goal state look like to you?
Visualise that idea, see that baddass person and keep that picture in your head. Refresh this every single day; personally, I do this part while I am having my early morning wake up foam roll (that’s a story for another blog though). But, finding a small window of time in your day to just focus on creating and honing that image is a really nourishing thing to do. Enjoy visualising your dreams. This way, when you set foot on the path to your ultimate goal, it’s coming from a really positive place, you know that what you’re about to do is exactly what you need right now to get you closer to that visualisation becoming a reality.
After we have designed a visualisation of our dreams we need to see what else is being put into our mind's eye. All day long we see images that can either feed or steal our motivation. We are blessed to live in a time when we can have these images at our fingertips anytime we want. Social media – love it or hate most of us probably spend more time than we’d care to admit scrolling through images every day. What we need to workout though, are you filling your minds with positive and inspiring images or the opposite?
When I took a long hard look at my daily feeds, there were so many pictures of clearly over filtered, photoshopped, probably plastic surgeon given, naked bums. An awful lot of women just standing in active wear in the mirror and a lot of photos of women in the gym with a full face of makeup and not a drop of sweat on them, all just standing there. How motivating does that sound? Exactly, zero.
So I reprogrammed my feeds, remove all the accounts from your social media that aren’t constructive, helpful fitness tips or inspirational stories, real-life examples of people working for their goals, similar to your goals, beyond your goals – anything. But, anything that is making you feel like crap (there’s no sugar coating it, you can admit it does) then it needs to go. Don’t allow yourself to fill your visual mind with negative, motivation detracting images and pictures. Especially now you have your image of your desired future self well and truly imprinted in your mind.
Then a fun part, it is time to fill your daily feed with constructive and inspirational accounts. Ones that are going to help you get where you want to be (use my blog on the most inspiring insta accounts to help you here, I’ve already done all the hard work for you!) It’s such a basic step but it can really do wonders. We can have everything we need to get started and become a complete gym pro right there any time. There are so many people out there who work really hard at giving you great workout ideas, technique tips, positive vibes, quotes, all sorts – these are constructive ways of starting and improving your workouts. These are the things you should be seeing every day. So, whatever the people or the accounts you find truly inspiring are, fill your eyes with them. Turn your social media accounts into a vision board.
Reprogramming what our mind's eye sees, what images we plant in our brain on a daily basis is the first step in creating a really positive mindset to start growing our motivation from. Remember, long-term motivation needs a positive base so take your time with this part, really see that future self-image and visit it every day.
What we hear, and what we think we hear, plays a large role in our motivation levels and, just like what we see, we can use our hearing to power up that motivational spark to get us to and through any workout.
We can’t always have Mr. Motivator next to us cheering us on (and not just because all that luminous Lycra would probably blind us) but a regular positive dialogue can change not only our workouts but our entire outlook on our journey. And, we can create it all for ourselves.
When I said that motivation to improve needs to come from a place of self-love, I mean it. If you are not your own Mr (or Mrs) motivator then that is your starting point. We have to make friends with the dialogue in our minds. If you ever catch yourself saying things to yourself (yes we all talk to ourselves from time to to time don’t be afraid, that will definitely help you here), or about yourself that you wouldn’t say about a friend, or wouldn’t allow a friend to say to you or would not stand for anyone saying about your friends, then you most certainly shouldn’t be saying it about yourself. You must be your number 1 fan in order to find everlasting motivation for, and joy in your journey.
We may not say everything out loud but that doesn’t stop our mind from hearing it. We need to talk and think like our future self as well as imagine them. No longer will we talk about our body, fitness level, image or anything in a negative way, we need to replace this dialogue with positive and affirming words and sentences in a planned and structured way.
Think and talk like this future self that you want to start showing up as and they will begin to appear in the mirror.
Talk your Day Right:
One positive thought to start your day will have you jumping along the right path from first thing in the morning. I’m talking about affirmations. One positive and goal-related sentence said to yourself each morning just a couple of times. Whether you say this to yourself in the mirror, in your head or shout it at full volume from your balcony, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you say it, with confidence and feeling.
Personally, I’m a 5-time girl. For me, my daily affirmation changes weekly so for 7 days it’s exactly the same and I say it quietly to myself in the mirror first thing in the morning 5 times through. I may also remind myself, just in my head, throughout the day if I start to lose my positivity or my energy. Think about what you have going on this week, think about your future self and your goals and come up with a sentence that means something to you. There’s no need to share this, it can be an incredibly powerful personal experience just for you.
This can feel a little strange at first, if you aren’t used to talking positively about yourself it can take some adjustment to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say positive things, but stay with this, it can really change your mindset and your outlook for the day. Start with something open if you struggle with the self-cheerleading e.g. “I am capable of making positive and healthy choices today”, “I am strong enough for anything I may face today”, “I am going to workout and enjoy it today because I love my body and my body loves the movement”. Try it yourself and each week try to become more positive and specific.
This positive self-talk is what I use to get me to and through all my workouts. Being your own Mr. Motivator through every single repetition in the gym can help push you even further through a difficult session, and keep you motivated before, during and after as well.
Be your own PT:
I am obviously fairly biased, being a PT myself, but I really believe it’s a great investment, especially if you’re new to exercise or really struggling with your motivation. However, it’s not always accessible to everyone so there are ways for you to be your own PT. Create your own ongoing motivational dialogue in your head during your workouts. Positive self-talk is a mega weapon in your arsenal against dwindling motivation. With the image of your future self firmly planted in mind's eye, you need to cheer her on as you work towards it.
Now, this is definitely some self-talk that’s best done in your own head as opposed to out loud but telling yourself your own inspiring phrases while you workout will alter your whole mindset while you train. If you were listening to my thoughts while I train, I can be caught telling myself that I love this workout, that I was made for this and that I’m an absolute queen at it!
On the outside I may be red-faced, sweating like crazy and moving slower than a snail on Sunday but, what I’m telling myself in my head is what keeps me going, what helps me to really make the most of those natural happy hormones, endorphins, and what pushes me to try harder and believe me, I do enjoy it more. I do keep going longer and I do feel better for it.
Positive results cannot come from a negative mindset, so stop telling yourself that it’s hard or it hurts or that you can’t keep going. See how much further you can go when you tell yourself you can do it, you were born for this, you’re enjoying it, you feel great. You need to be the best cheerleader for yourself that you could ever hope for.
Three Little Words:
Before you get to be your own PT and wow yourself through your sessions we have to make it to our sessions first. And that’s the hardest bit right, getting started? Not anymore...
I use three simple words to get me to every single session. Whether it’s at the end of a long tiring day at work, or first thing on a cold morning, telling myself these three simple words never fails to get me through the gym doors.
Just Show Up:
When it comes to it, that’s really all you have to do, just show up, and how easy does just showing up sound? Think about it for a second, just show up. Don’t think any further past showing up at the gym, or the park, the studio, your own living room, or wherever. Teach yourself that all you need to do is show up. Simple. Nothing past showing up comes into my mind.
Then, if all you have to do is just show up there’s really nothing to fear or dread or be worried about. Once you’ve shown up we’ll tackle the next steps and this is where it can really help to be showing up to a coach, PT, class, video or something that plans and delivers the next step for you. You’ll soon turn your “just show up” affirmation into a “just keep showing up” and shortly you won’t even need to remind yourself to go.
Now, we’ve set ourselves up from first light with positive self-talk and affirmations, we’ve got ourselves simply through the doors of the gym and we’re going to cheer like hell for ourselves all the way through - positive thoughts and words really will flow through your entire body and create positive results. Be your own best friend, be your own PT, be your own cheerleader and most of all, don’t be your own worst enemy.