Staying motivated to get, be, and stay fit is hard enough. Now, in the middle of a global pandemic, staying motivated is that much harder. You want to work out. You want to make good food choices. But between working at home, kids remote learning, and your fridge and pantry staring you in the face, getting motivated to do all those things are nearly impossible. How, in the world, do you get motivated with all of this going on?
Let’s start with what motivation is. The dictionary defines motivation as ‘reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way’ or ‘the general desire or willingness of someone to do something’. There are also 2 types of motivation, intrinsic, and extrinsic. Intrinsic is the motivation that comes directly from within you. Extrinsic is the motivation that comes from an outside source. For example, going out for a run because you like how it makes you feel is intrinsic motivation. Working harder during a fitness class because the instructor is cheering you on and coaching you is extrinsic motivation. Since we are in the middle of a global pandemic, staying motivated is going to take more intrinsic than extrinsic motivation.
To make it simple, here are ten things you can do to stay motivated. Even in a global pandemic:
1. Find your why and refer back often
What’s your ‘why’? Why do you want to get, be, and stay fit? Do you want to be healthier? Do you want to have more energy? Or do you want to keep up with your kids? Do you want to look in the mirror and like what you see? Whatever the reason is, always keep it in mind. Refer back to it often, especially during those moments when you are feeling very unmotivated. Remember why you got started. Remember why you hopped on this journey, to begin with. Your why will help keep you going.
2. Set Goals
What do you want out of this? Do you want to lose 20 lbs? Do you want to run a faster 5k? Whatever it is you want, set both short and long-term goals for yourself. Make them measurable and attainable. Write them down and make them visible. Put them on your fridge or bathroom mirror, someplace where you will see them every day. Make new goals and adjustments to your goals as you go.
3. Plan, Plan, Plan!
Ever hear that saying ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’? You need to plan and you need to plan everything. Your workouts, your food, everything. And you need to plan every day. Plan out what you will do for your workout(s) and when. Plan out your menu and meals for the day. Then all you have to do is stick to your plan.
4. No matter what happens, always get back on the horse
Did you binge snacks while binging your shows? Did you buy some candy on your grocery trip? Do you keep running to your fridge mid-workday? Always get back on the horse every chance you get. And here’s the cool thing. Every month, week, day, hour, minute, and second is another chance. You can choose to turn things around any time you want. Step away from the chips and start again.
5. Find Your Tribe
Okay, I admit, this is a tough one in a pandemic. The good news is there are lots of online and virtual challenges going on so do some research and get involved. Seek out support from family and friends. Tell them about your goals. Maybe they have similar goals. Maybe you can make a virtual date with a friend to get a workout together over a video call. Lots of people are struggling right now and it helps to have support. Surround yourself with positivity and the journey will be that much easier.
6. Affirm Yourself
Positive self-talk is a very powerful thing, more powerful than we all think. And according to a study published in Psychology Today, referring to yourself in the third person is actually a form of extrinsic motivation. Speak positively to yourself and about yourself. And celebrate your victories. All of them, even the smallest ones.
7. Let the haters hate
Depending on who you are, this one can be really easy, or really hard. When you are on a fitness journey, like it or not, there will be comments. Friends and family may say things like ‘What are you, on a diet or something?’ or ‘You don’t need to eat that!’. Don’t let these comments derail your focus. Brush it off and keep doing what you need to do to stay on track.
8. Do What You Love
Ben and Jerry said ‘If it’s not fun, why do it?’. This goes for health and fitness too. Workouts and healthy eating don’t have to be torture. If you don’t like running, don’t run. If you don’t like broccoli, don’t eat it. Do workouts you enjoy doing. Eat healthy foods that you do like. This may take some trial and error. And remember that workouts don’t always have to be something formal in a gym. It can be as simple as taking a walk or a bike ride. Do what you like. Workouts aren’t effective if you don’t want to go back and do it again.
9. Just do it!
There are lots of things in our daily routines. Waking up, getting kids to school, going to work, making dinner, etc. If health isn’t part of your daily routine, it should be. You have 24 hours in a day. Simple physical activity only needs to take up to 1 of those hours. That’s not a lot. So just do it.
10. Ask yourself: How bad do you want it? This is you. This journey is for you. It’s your decision. You have to decide: How bad do you want it?
Staying motivated is not easy, especially in a global pandemic. Stay on track, keep your focus, and set yourself up to win!
Amy E. Magnan, MPH, CPT-NASM