Monday, March 21, 2011

Motivational March!

          Okay, I know that was a cheesy title for this post. :) It's very ironic that the vote was cast and motivation won. I'm having an extremely hard time staying motivated to update this blog frequently which has forced me to think about motivational techniques that can be applied to our every day lives and not just to fitness (though I promise these tips work super well in the fitness area as well). 

          There are basic things we need when starting out with something new (fitness routines, blog updates, home projects, and so on) to keep us going and I've found that these things are vital to success. Sure there may be some of you out there who are super good at keeping yourself motivated and can plow through whatever it is you're trying to achieve. Most of us are not so lucky and we need help! I've got a list of things we need to help us and bear in mind that these are in no particular order. I couldn't come up with a good order to do these in since it really depends on you, but here are some things that can help you stay motivated:

1. Be accountable to someone! Every day I have a list of things I want to do (yes, exercise is on there) but no one is checking up on that list to see what I've done everyday but me and it's really easy to come up with excuses about why I didn't do things. I can't always make myself do things but I can let other people know what those tasks are and have them ask me how I'm doing on my list. My husband frequently asks how the list went and I always want to report something good (so he knows I don't sit home all day and do nothing) so I'm extra motivated to get things done. When I joined Weight Watchers for four months last fall I joined with my sister-in-law, We both chose the online program and we chose the same weigh-in day. Every Friday we would sent a text to report how much we had lost that week (or gained,  heaven forbid). I never wanted to report weight gain so I made sure I stuck extra close to my routine in order to always report a weight loss. (And I'm super competitive and I didn't want her to lose while I gained haha.) My husband recently wrote out some fitness goals of his and was having a very hard time keeping to them. He asked me to remind him every day that he had some exercising to do and he was able to stay more on track with his goals.
Having someone there to remind you (even if they live far away, they can still call you) that you have some work to do, or to ask you how well you've done this week helps you to keep pushing through those tough days because none of us want to report anything bad!

2. Get feedback! This one goes a little bit with number 1 simply because a great way to have feedback is through the people you have made yourself accountable to. If you had a bad week, tell them why you think that is and don't be afraid to ask them for help to avoid those problems you had. You can also get feedback from yourself. Sit down at the end of each week and write down how you felt throughout the week. Did you have more energy this week after exercising more? Did you slip up some days? Were there things that kept you from doing your workout? What were they? Write down everything you felt about your goals and then divide that into things that went well and things that didn't. Take some time to find ways to make those things that went well a habit, and find out how to make things that didn't go well disappear.

3. Take measurements! Whether you want to lose weight or tone up, taking measurements is a great way to see if you've stayed on track. It's also a great motivator. When your measurements improve, you get positive feedback and it makes you want to keep doing well. When we slip up and our measurements plateau or regress, it gives us negative feedback which causes us to have a deeper resolve to do better next week. Keep in mind that taking measurements every day is not a good idea. These things take time so only measure every week or even every 2 weeks. Some ideas of things you want to measure are: chest, waist, hips, thighs, biceps, calves, neck, shoulders, and of course, the weigh-in. You don't have to take measurements for all of those things. You can pick and chose which parts you want to measure but be sure to be consistent. Always measure the same things at the same time of day (I like to do my weigh-in and measurements in the morning before breakfast), and the same amount of time apart (I weight every week and measure every 2 weeks).

4. Give yourself a pat on the back. If you're constantly too hard on yourself you're going to give up. Recognize that no one is perfect. The only reason our favorite celebrities look the way they do is because they have constant access to personal trainers, nutritionists, planners, and massage therapists. If we could afford what they do and if our careers depended on having a perfect body, we could do that too. Any success needs to be rewarded (though preferable not with pigging out all weekend because you did such a good job out your workout this week, that's a little counterproductive haha) and realize that even small successes should be rewarded. Back before I lived off student loans I would reward a certain amount of weight loss with a shopping trip, or new fitness equipment (or yes, sometimes eating out, but only one meal!). Let yourself feel good with what you've accomplished even if you haven't reached your long-term goal just yet. And enjoy the journey! We learn a lot about ourselves through our successes and our failures. Give yourself a pat on the back and if things don't go your way, try, try again!

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