If you’re like most people, you likely have a love-hate relationship with exercise. You know it’s good for you, but it can also be tough to find the motivation to keep going. It’s easy to get into a fitness rut, especially if you’ve been following the same routine for a while. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for both your physical and mental well-being. But, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. If you’re feeling bored or unmotivated, then it’s a good idea to take a closer look at your current routine and figure out what isn’t working for you.
I had a hard time finding a sport that I was good at.
After trying many sports, I found one that fit my interests and needs—rowing. I was pretty good at sitting down and going backward for long periods. My body seemed to get better the more I invested in it, so this became an integral part of my life. Fitness has helped me both physically and mentally for work and school experiences. Crew was the perfect sport for a two-left-footed athlete. It propelled me into college where I found a path to SEAL Team—another perfect fit. The byproduct of my training for rowing and SEAL Team was that I naturally developed muscles. This is what many folks make as their focus when they join gyms: smaller waists, bigger arms, or toned legs (depending on their goal). My results happened from something that had a greater purpose than looking good or getting a smaller waist. I focused on developing a better functioning body.
I struggled to find a fitness focus that kept me motivated.
After I left the SEALs and started my next career as a civilian in software sales, I struggled to find a fitness focus that kept me motivated. I packed on 25 pounds in no time flat, and my training focus shifted from one of “function” (a better-functioning body) to one of “form” (a better-looking body). I tried to convince myself, “It’s okay, I’ll get my body back in time for next summer.” Well, that summer came and went, but the extra weight stuck around. It was not until I decided to leave software sales and start my own company—a fitness company—that I found a new fitness focus. The way I saw it, I “had” to be in better shape if I wanted to run a fitness company, and that purpose helped me lose over 30 pounds. I realized that the more I connected my fitness focus to the people and purposes in life that matter most, the more successful I was at achieving my fitness goals.
Running a fitness company helped me stay motivated for a while.
But even running a fitness company couldn’t ensure perfect health. Here I was the inventor of the “Perfect Pushup” and once again I was packing on the pounds after a while. The problem was that I was getting burned out using the very products that we invented. The idea of staying in shape because I ran a fitness company didn’t keep me as motivated anymore. So, that’s when I found mountain climbing, which was another perfect fit for me. I didn’t have to run, but just walk slowly and steadily, and be willing to suffer for long periods. Not only that, there were other people involved which gave me an added boost of staying fit. I didn’t want to be the one that could not summit because I was too out of shape—or worse, be the one that held the team back.
Starting to work out and staying motivated are the hardest parts.
Here’s the thing, it’s easy in today’s world to postpone a workout or two and fall into the routine of saying, “I’ll start next Monday.” The fact is fitness is work—it’s hard, and it’s supposed to be if you do it right. But the benefits are irrefutable, from living better and longer to being stronger and healthier. Our bodies are built to move and crave it once it becomes a habit. But the rub is, just like all other things, starting and staying motivated are the hardest parts. That’s why it’s important to find your “why” to do the work in the first place. My purpose in writing this is to remind you that if working out has become boring, or the mere thought of going to a gym conjures up negative thoughts, then switch your focus altogether and connect it to the people and purposes that matter most to you.
Here are some suggestions for getting started and staying motivated with your fitness focus:
Consider what you loved about working out in the past: There are many reasons why people like exercising and staying fit. Some people enjoy the challenge of working out, while others appreciate the way it makes them feel both mentally and physically. Still, others enjoy the social aspect of working out with friends or family. Whatever the reason, there are many benefits to be had from regular exercise and fitness.
Mix up your routine with different types of workouts: If you’ve been struggling to keep your fitness routines exciting, you’re not alone. Most people find it difficult to stick with a workout program for more than a few weeks at a time. The key to avoiding this pitfall is to add variety to your routine. This will help keep your workouts interesting and prevent them from becoming stale. Here are a few ways to add variety to your routine:
- Try new workout classes: One of the best ways to mix up your routine is to try new workout classes. This will not only help keep your workouts interesting, but it will also allow you to meet new people and make friends.
- Switch up your exercises: Another great way to add variety to your routine is to switch up your exercises. If you usually run on the treadmill, try swimming laps instead. Or if you typically lift weights, try using resistance bands or body-weight exercises.
- Do outdoor workouts: If you’re tired of working out indoors, try taking your workouts outdoors. Many great exercises can be done outside, such as running, hiking, and biking.
- Work out with a friend: Another great way to add variety to your routine is to work out with a friend. This will not only help you stay motivated, but it will also make your workouts more enjoyable.
Create a plan and set realistic goals to stay on track: Creating an exercise and fitness plan can be a daunting task, but it’s important to set realistic goals to stay on track. The key to setting yourself up for fitness goal success is devising them with the SMART method in mind. This tried-and-true approach creates goals that are:
- Specific: The goal is clear and defined. For example, “workout three times a week” rather than “exercise more.”
- Measurable: There’s a way to track your progress, which could be logging the weights you lift or the distance you run each week.
- Attainable: This goal can be feasibly reached within the set time frame. Very few people could train for a marathon in two weeks, but many could over a couple of months.
- Relevant: There’s a “why” driving your motivation to reach the goal. Maybe you want to feel stronger, more flexible, or manage an underlying condition.
- Timely: The goal has a deadline whether it’s four weeks or six months.
Reward yourself after completing mini-goals along the way to your ultimate goal: One way to reward yourself after completing a fitness goal is to treat yourself to a well-deserved massage. A massage can help soothe tired muscles and can be a great way to relax after a tough workout. Another way to reward yourself is to indulge in your favorite healthy snack. Whether you’re craving fruit, yogurt, or a protein-packed smoothie, allow yourself to enjoy a healthy treat that will help refuel your body. Finally, take some time for yourself and relax in a sauna or steam room. This can help your body recover and can be a great way to unwind after a long week of working out.
Get to work, one day at a time, using your newfound fitness focus to do something fun while you get stronger. That’s exactly what I did with my “swim buddies,”—we’ve picked a new mountain to climb next year, the hardest one yet. And that’s the beauty of pushing yourself, once you conquer one goal, you’ll find yourself eager to tackle a bigger one (we’ve climbed six mountains together, and counting), and that’s a recipe to Be Unstoppable. Check out my Resources and Courses sections for more ways to build success habits and take goal-driven actions to improve your overall well-being and reach your full potential.