If you’re like most people you likely made a resolution to improve yourself or your life in 2013. The top resolution this year is no surprise: People vowed to get in better shape.
A recent study showed that these commitments to self-improvement generally last about one month before motivation begins to tail off and nearly 80% end in failure.
Why does this happen? And more importantly, is there anything we can do to be a success story?
Why Staying Motivated For Fitness Is So Difficult
Staying motivated to “get in better shape” is challenging because it’s a never-ending process. While saving for a tropical vacation or learning how to knit a scarf are finite goals, “getting in shape” is not a something that ever comes to an end. This can make it difficult to stay motivated.
Recent research showed that motivation is also directly tied to the reasons we want to change:
“Most women start exercising to drop weight. But this can backfire; it can actually decrease motivation and worsen body image by fostering unhealthy ideals of thinness and creating unrealistic expectations. Not only does that set women up to fail and feel bad about their bodies, but it turns exercise into a chore, and that undermines staying motivated.” (SHARP Centre For Women)
Another reason for fading motivation is a lack of patience. A sustainable goal for weight loss is usually 1-2 pounds per week, but sometimes this does not seem like enough. It ca be hard to think of the long-term progress that will be made when the immediate results seem insignificant.
How to Stay Motivated to Get In Shape
Anyone who is serious about getting fit this year will need a plan of action. Use these suggestions for improved motivation and a better likelihood for success:
1. Start simple.
It can be tempting to try to do it all. Striving to exercise every day, eat just broccoli and broiled chicken, and get to be by 9pm might yield significant results, but this is unrealistic for most people. Instead, pick 1 or 2 small changes that can be used as a starting point for future changes to build upon.
2. Create a strategy.
Willpower alone is not enough to make a fitness resolution stick. That’s why it is so important to create a system that makes it harder to fall off track. Try scheduling workouts with a friend. Set an alarm that tells you it’s time to take a walk. Cleanse your house of all junk food (out of sight, out of mind!) Or, enlist some online help to create healthier exercise and eating routines. Strategies like these provide a framework for fitness that will strengthen motivation to stick with it.
3. Make it fun.
If you hate running then don’t choose to run your way to fitness. There are many forms of exercise (e.g. swimming, fitness classes, resistance training, playing a sport, cycling, hiking, playing outdoor games with the kids, etc) that can be fun and effective.
4. Recognize your progress.
While your end-goal may seem far in the future, there are many milestones that will be reached along the way…if you recognize them! Try writing down mini-goals that can be accomplished every 2-4 weeks. Seeing those goals happen is exciting and will help you stay motivated to push on.
5. Reward yourself.
If your fitness goals are worth attaining then they are also worth a reward! Take a trip, buy new shoes, go to a special restaurant, or set up another reward that will keep you in the hunt. Choose something that is big enough that it will make you think twice about skipping an exercise session or picking up a donut on the way to work.
Now Get Started!
There’s no reason to wait for 2014 to roll around before implementing some of these fitness motivation strategies. Choose a simple action to be done this week that will get you moving towards your fitness goals. Next, get accountable by telling a friend – Instantly you will feel more motivated to stick with your plan and you might even recruit a fitness buddy in the process!