You’ve made the decision to start eating healthy and have even started an exercise program to really kick start your new lifestyle. Unfortunately for some, the excitement soon wears off and they find themselves up against a mental roadblock. This road bock affects athletes at all stages of the game—from beginner to professional. As soon as our body reaches that uncomfortable stage of a workout or lifestyle change, negative thoughts like “I can’t do this today!” creep in and rob us of that truly satisfying victory of “I finished!” Don’t let your mental roadblocks keep you from success! Your body can do amazing things—you just have to convince your mind.
Here are six tips to keep yourself mentally motivated. Remember “motivate the mind; the body will follow.”
- When you feel like quitting, think about why you started. What was your motivation to start eating healthy and working out? Was it your kids? To get rid of or alleviate the symptoms of poor health? Make a motivational board by collecting quotes and inspirational images and put it where you can see it daily. When you’re in the middle of a tough workout visualize this board to help you remember what you’re working towards.
2. When you wake up with determination, you go to bed with satisfaction. Before you go to bed each night, run through what you’re going to do the next day in your mind. Write it down or put it in your phone if you need to. If you have an especially tough workout coming up (It’s the dreaded leg day!) go through the workout in your mind the night before. Mentally preparing beforehand and giving yourself a little pregame pep talk (“this is going to be tough, but I can do it!) can have a calming effect and make it easier to accomplish the task.
3. Drown out the doubters! When you’re in the middle of sweating and feel like there’s no way you’re going to be able to do 1 more squat, let alone 5 more, it’s time to silence those doubts with music, a podcast, or an audio book. Different people have different preferences for what helps distract them. Find one that works for you. If music is your thing, you’ll be amazed how simply turning on an upbeat song can make you go from feeling like quitting to feeling like you can go for hours. Other people love the way a good podcast or audio book helps them zone out and focus on a good story so they can forget about what they’re physically doing.
4. Celebrate short term successes. Sure your long term goal might be to get healthy for your kids, but when you thought about quitting today during your workout or were tempted by a poor diet choice AND DIDN’T that deserves some bragging rights! Give yourself permission to brag about yourself on social media or to a friend when you feel like giving up but found a way to persevere. Challenge groups are a great way to share your successes with others and also provide opportunities for you to be a cheerleader for someone else too.
5. Change it up! Sometimes when your mind doesn’t want to cooperate with your workout, it may be a sign you need to add some variety or mix it up. If you typically workout indoors, find a way to bring it outside or change locations. If Tuesday is supposed to be yoga and you’re just not feeling it, work another part of your body instead. If you usually do certain workouts on certain days, try reversing it (i.e. Do Friday’s workout on Monday, Thursday’s work out on Tuesday, etc…).
6. Check your intensity. Finally, if you’re tiring out quickly into a workout take the intensity down a notch. It could be a sign you’re trying to do too much too soon. If the workout says you’re supposed to be doing a full push up, modify it by doing one on your knees instead. Remember that any exercise is better than no exercise and that deserves a celebration (see tip #4).