Some days you feel like you can conquer the world, and other days it's a struggle just to get out of bed in the morning. This holds especially true in the area of exercise and fitness--it's very easy to find yourself on a motivational roller coaster that can leave you wondering which end is up. We all have our weak moments, but it's important to become keenly aware of how to spot the sources of low motivation, as well as how to identify its effects in order to stop it from hindering your fitness goals. Below are some key ideas to consider regarding this mysterious force known as motivation, as well as how to fix it when it seems to be on the fritz.
How Low Motivation Affects Your Workout Performance
- Low Productivity - The first (and most obvious) effect of low motivation on your workout performance will be a low productivity level. Your workouts will be half-hearted, and you'll basically just "go through the motions" instead of really giving it your all. There may even be times when you simply end your workout early and walk out on the whole thing, which only serves to sabotage your motivation level for the next session.
- Lack of Focus - When your motivation level is low, you can get distracted by the most trivial things. You might take a 15 minute break from the elliptical just to send a few text messages, or you'll get wrapped up in a 30-minute gym conversation instead of focusing on completing your sets while you're there.
- Bad Mood - This can come in a variety of ways, including irritability, sadness, aggression, or even anxiety. You might engage in negative self-talk, or be particularly critical of yourself when you look in the mirror. These negative mindsets can sap your energy, leaving you feeling fatigued and listless.
How You Can Boost Your Motivation Level
- Get rid of unrealistic expectations and excessive self-criticism. Yes, you might not be where you want to be yet, but when you step into the gym, you're doing something to make a change. Nothing happens overnight, so stop putting so much pressure on yourself. If you're not training for Olympic gold, you can relax just a little bit and approach your workouts from a more balanced perspective.
- Focus on doing a little bit at a time. So you don't feel motivated enough to do three sets of 15 reps on the bench press? No problem--make up your mind to do only one rep. That's right--just one. And once you've done that one rep, you'll probably have just enough motivation to squeeze out another one, right? Yep. Keep doing this until you've hit 15 reps. Just put one foot in front of the other. Then start a new set.
- Treat your body right when you're not in the gym. That means getting adequate sleep and eating nutritious meals. If you're sleep-deprived and under-nourished, you could be asking your body for more than it can give, which will often produce those feelings of low motivation.
- Change your workout routine. If you've been doing the same old thing week in and week out, it can easily become stale, which will kill your motivation. Try a new routine, learn some new exercises, hire a new personal trainer, etc. Many times it only takes one small adjustment to breathe new life--and new motivation--into your workouts.
- Forget the past. Don't beat yourself up for the workouts you missed, or the times when you didn't try hard enough. Just pick up from right where you are and start again. Nobody's judging you or scoring you on this, so you're free to start over whenever you like. Make today your day for a new beginning!