Following on from last week’s blog post – “Barriers to Exercise” – I feel it’s important to cover the topic of self-motivation… We can sometimes find ourselves stuck in the same old cycle; wake up, exercise, eat, work, eat, sleep, repeat. We can hit a plateau or feel like old habits are just getting us nowhere, which may not always be a bad thing if you're happy with where you are, but it’s also good to keep moving steadily along in order to notice a positive change.
My sister and I were recently talking about next stages of life – our own business’, our studying, our exercise and lifestyle choices, but we came to the idea that whatever it is you’re working towards, it’s important to ”invest in order to progress.” Setting up our own business’ we had to invest some money in the first instance in order to get ourselves started and to be able to see things grow. It’s the same concept for health and exercise – in order to be the best version of yourself, you seriously need to look at what you invest your time and/or money into, and as much as someone else can give you suggestions and guidance on how to best do this, it ultimately comes down to you and your choices.
Being a personal trainer admittedly can be challenging when someone comes to me wanting to make a huge difference to their weight, appearance or strength, for example. I can provide as much guidance and information on how best to train, or what food choices are better for you to create a healthy lifestyle – this doesn’t make much difference however if you’re not willing to make the changes for yourself. This doesn’t mean that you’ll change all your bad habits at once and everything will be perfect within a week; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. You need to be willing to make these healthy choices continuously until they become part of your lifestyle and something that you’re happy with. Depending on your starting point and the end goal, it could be a month, or it could be a year down the line – the one connecting factor, however, is SELF-MOTIVATION.
Self-motivation in the sense that you’ll have good days and bad days, but for the majority of that you make good choices that outweigh the few bad ones. Self-motivation in the sense that you’ll have knockbacks, but you get back up the next day and hustle again. Self-motivation in the sense that no matter how tough it can feel, you still have that end goal in mind and the feeling you’ll have when you achieve the goal.
A lack of any of the following can create setbacks from our goals; low self-esteem, lack of confidence and a lack of understanding for exercise or nutrition. Personal trainers are trained to help with all of these things, which in turn can help you to find your own self-motivation to continue the journey, with a PT’s support along the way. My most successful clients are those who have their regular sessions (and very rarely cancel!), join a class or two each week and ask questions as often as possible to help them along on their journey. They’re also successful because they take this knowledge and apply it to each day; adding in extra walks or home workouts, meal prepping or calorie counting and generally just being more aware of how they feel after each of these choices have been made.
This isn’t to say that all of these clients never drink, or never eat a takeaway – I encourage it occasionally because it’s a natural thing to want to do, and it’s important to be able to enjoy yourself every now and then too. They’re now just far more aware of their body and how it responds to cheat meals or a few days of not exercising; all of their choices are informed – it’s like one day a switch just flips. I could quite honestly say that once this switch flips for my clients, you start to see other things fall into place for them too. They’re on top of the things that they’re able to control, so the nutrition, sleep, hydration and exercise just becomes one less thing to worry about. All of the things that may still be out of our control, such as work – or a pandemic – don’t seem quite so scary or unmanageable.
With this being said, work out what exactly it is you’re working towards and break down the steps that you’ll need to complete in order to get there. Not all steps will be clearly mapped out along the way, but more often than not they’ll become clear as you continue to work on yourself. Asking for help can be really useful too, so don't think that you have to go about this alone. Personal trainers can help you to make informed choices, and having an "accountability partner" is a great idea too - someone that helps you work towards your goals by agreeing to workout with you at the same time, or suggesting a new healthy meal that they cooked recently for example. The physical and mental benefits that come from achieving your goals are limitless… trust the process, put the hard work in, and remember that self-motivation is what will get you to where you want to be.