Among all struggles we face in achieving a healthier life, motivation is the toughest to gain and the easiest to lose. This is especially true when it comes to going to the gym, exercising and working out. It’s a tough habit to break into, and most are often quick to quit because they do not get the results they want in the timeframe they want.
A good majority will start to wonder why they are not losing weight at the ideal rate or why their six pack isn’t visible. That often leads to a loss of motivation. However, the beauty of it is that you can gather willpower and you can get the motivation back. And there are scientifically proven ways to back that up.
#1. Avoid Unrealistic Goals
The first thing we are told to do is to set a goal for ourselves and use it as inspiration to maintain motivation to go to gym and achieve our target. The issue is that our ideal is often far fetched and not in a sense that we could never get to it. With the right preparation and will, we can. However, we won’t achieve it fast or easy. No matter how much we want our toned body in a few weeks, it will not be possible. So, setting realistic goals is one part of the trick. The second part, however, is to avoid unrealistic goals.
A study on female volunteers tracked the rate of their diet for one full week. They were asked to keep a count of what they ate. Half of the volunteers received a diary with a stick-thin model on the cover, while the other half received one with the run-of-the-mill diet-related image. By the week’s end, the women who had received the diary with the thin model on the cover ended up going for high-calorie snacks more often. In fact, they gained weight over the course of the study.
That determined the researchers to conclude that imagery of unobtainable goals actively discouraged women from making an effort at staying healthy and getting thin.
#2. Use Rewards
You can push yourself into a beneficial loop of effort-and-reward by setting a pleasant outcome after completing a more difficult task. If you want to become gym motivated to workout, you have to force your brain to connect it with joy. How you do this, is by placing a reward at the end and making a habit out of it. Essentially, you will create a neurological trigger by settling into a clear, simple pattern: behavior, routine, reward. These three steps will effectively boost your workout motivation to the point where it becomes natural, and you won’t even want the reward anymore.
For example, you set your workout gear in your bag (behavior), you go to the gym (routine), and then treat yourself to a smoothie (reward). Eventually, your brain will make the connection between the sweat and effort of a good workout to something delicious like a smoothie, and release those feel-good chemicals. Soon enough, it will make a clear cause-and-effect relationship between exercising and being happy.
#3. Think Positive in a Different Way
Positive thinking is a way to get motivation to got to gym, but it does not work for everyone. What does work is having a solid solution to each problem. It’s not just about thinking of the bright side of things, like the smell of fresh air in the morning when you’re heading for a run. It’s about finding the right formula that gets you past the obstacles.
A study in Rethinking Positive Thinking was conducted on 51 female students who stated that they wanted to eat healthier and less junk food. Researchers asked that they visualize the benefits of switching to a better diet.
The women who not only visualized it but found a way to surpass the obstacle keeping them back were more successful at sticking to the goal. It was done by keeping healthy fruit at hand and, whenever temptation appeared, they reached for it. This way, called “mental contrasting,” is very efficient at getting you motivated to workout. First, identify your obstacle and make a plan to work around it. Are you too tired in the morning to workout? Do it in the afternoon or at night.
#4. Use Social Media as A Tool
We may not like it, but there is something about the public perception that ultimately adds to our gym motivation tips. You can tell it to a friend or do it the modern way and share it on social media. Not everyone would be comfortable with detailing their progress on such an open platform, but it could be key to getting your motivation to go to the gym. It doesn’t have to be due to shame, but due to the potential support you will be getting from others who are following you.
A study conducted by Weilos looked through the multitude of people who share their weight-loss progress on social media and those who didn’t. On average, people who posted weekly pictures on Instagram to track their progress lost around 1.2 pounds per week. That was far more than the 0.26 pounds for those who didn’t post it. Perception of others can keep you on track and motivated. Never underestimate its powers along with that of the support of your friends.
#5. Add Money To The Equation
Perhaps “getting healthy” or “getting fit” is not enough incentive for some to hit the gym. So, there is a need for something slightly different. Research published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine saw that participants were more motivated once money was on the line.
Some were given the option of betting money on their progress. If they lost one pound per week, their contributions were matched by the researchers. If not, they lost the money. At the end of study eight months later, participants who put money on the line lost an average of 9 pounds more than those who didn’t bet.
Money is a strong motivational tool. It should never be taken out of the equation. However, there are simpler solutions if no one is actually willing to pay you to workout. For one, you can make an honest bet with your friends, where you pay them $20 each time you skip a gym session.
Motivation is a challenging factor of every person at the beginning of their workout. However, with time, hitting the gym becomes natural and a well-formed, healthy habit. That motivation will turn into a hobby eventually, and you will realize that you don’t need an incentive anymore. Going to the gym will be rewarding by itself.
Author Bio: Patrick Lenhoff is a personal trainer and a freelance writer, who loves to motivate people on how to get in shape and stay healthy. He believes that people can mentally improve their lives through physical triumphs. Patrick is a regular contributor at Fitnesstechpro.com – one of the up and coming blogs, dedicated to bringing relevant news from the fitness industry.