9 Habits to Keep You Motivated with Your Fitness Goals in 2021
2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone. From those who lost their jobs, picked up full-time stay-at-home teachers of their kids, to those whose essential jobs meant working ’round the clock hours, we’ve all lacked a sense of routine… and definitely been missing our gym time.
For some of us we’ve used this time to hunker down and commit to our goals, but for many of us, the lack of structure has definitely seen our workout routine slip away.
Goal setting, especially fitness goals setting has always been difficult! But starting with healthy and realistic goals that are slow, steady, and attainable, will definitely make sticking to them much more realistic.
As we approach New Years’, your friends and family around you have already begun telling you all the amazing (and maybe unrealistic) goals they’ve got for 2021… our list of helpful hints will actually replenish your motivation long after your New Year’s resolutions wear off.
Let’s look forward to 2021!
Fast forward a few months ahead. It’s March, and COVID is still not over. It’s still cold outside, your kids still are home from school. The New Years’ glow has worn off and the temptation to lay on the couch and throw in the towel is nearly all-consuming. So, what do you do?
Our answer to that is SCIENCE. If you’re feeling like the whole thing is starting to slip away from you, it’s time to bring in these proven habits that help anyone stay more motivated.
1. Set REALISTIC goals and Write them Down!
This is truly the most important step. Pick small, attainable, realistic goals, and write them down. Don’t just say, “I want to lose 30 pounds this year.” The truth is, 99% of people who set a weight goal will never achieve it. Because losing weight isn’t an action you can take. It’s a consequence of other actions you did consistently.
So instead of “losing x pounds by March” (which was probably way unrealistic… focus on the physical goals you want to hit. Check out our blog on fitness goals here.
Then, write it down. Why? It’s science! Doesn’t matter how strange it sounds… putting pen to paper and writing down a goal actually makes a more significant imprint on your brain than just thinking it over and over. Psychologist Edwin Locke says “creating specific goals, then writing them down, creates a structure within a person’s life.”
2. Make it a priority.
Ask yourself: “How do I want to feel when I wake up in the morning? Would I rather be caught up on my favorite late-night TV show but wake up tired?” Or, would I rather go to bed earlier, and wake up energized and ready to get a workout in?” While work and home-life can still take up so much of our time these days, things like TV shows and endlessly scrolling Instagram can definitely take a backseat.
It’s not going to be easy at the beginning. Like starting any habit, the beginning will be rough. But if the results are important to you, than the journey has to be too. When it’s important to you, you will find a solution.
Most of the time people fail on their workout regimes or start to slip is because they didn’t take the time to adequately build their new lifestyle to fit their actual life. So, start building that life! If you need to charge your phone in the bathroom at night so you don’t lay in bed scrolling for hours each night or morning, do it. If you have to bring a change of clothes to work to get a run in after, start packing that bag the night before and leaving it in your trunk.
3. Schedule a regular workout time.
Spoiler alert: It doesn’t have to be the morning.
Look, mornings are a great time to workout. And there’s a good reason serious committed athletes work out very early in the morning. No one schedules meetings at 4am or 5am. The roads and gyms are empty. And many people find that starting the day by completing a physical challenge and getting that endorphin rush is a great way to start your day off on the right track.
But, most importantly… you have to be consistent with yourself and your new lifestyle. If mornings are a bad time for you, then try different times of day until you find the one that works best for you. When you find it, commit to it, and don’t miss it.
4. Practice Visualizing Your Success
The temptation to slip will always be there. It’s a really cold morning and you’re cozy in bed. Your co-workers want you to go out drinking with them (assuming bars are open again), or you’re just tired and can’t be bothered tonight. That’s when this trick comes in. Visualize your goals.
Now, this is assuming you’ve made realitic goals in step 1. If your goal was to lose 100 pounds and you haven’t lost anything yet, visualizing yourself “thinner” isn’t going to do anything. In fact, it’s probably going to make yourself feel worse.
But if you’ve made realistic, small, attainable goals, these visualizations are incredibly powerful. Closing your eyes and seeing yourself adding a little more weight to a barbell, hitting a mile marker you’ve never hit, or being able to do a yoga pose that’s difficult for you… these visualizations can help stop a negative behavior and keep you on course in an instant.
If you’re not used to meditation or mind exercises, all this may sound a bit hooey, but it’s just a quiet conversation with yourself and it’s one of the most powerful tools in your toolkit.
5. Don’t be a Perfectionist.
You ever hear the phrase “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” Well, that definitely comes into play with fitness goals. One trait you see in a lot of athletes and fitness professionals is the confidence to fail. They just do it. But those of us who aren’t used to this level of consistency can easily over complicate things to give ourselves excuses to not “just do it.”
You want to run? Get properly fitted running shoes and go out and run. No need to worry about ideal running gear, compression garnet, heart rate monitor, finding the latest and greatest gadget advertised in fitness magazines, or reading about and searching online for the ultimate training program. Just start running, and you’ll figure out the rest later. Want to swim? Go swim. It’s okay if you’re breaststroke is crap and your swimsuit is baggy and you look stupid. Just swim. You’ll get there.
6. Find a Fitness Buddy.
During normal times, we’d say meet up with a group, make friends in the gym! But who are we kidding? It’s harder than ever to get together and do anything these days. If there are gyms or outdoor fitness meetups in your area that are healthy and safe, go for it! But even if you can’t physically meet up with a crew of motivational fellow athletes in the beginning of 2021, that’s no excuse to let this tip slide.
Partnership and fellowship are one of the most important elements of any fitness routine. Because the truth is, it’s easier to let ourselves down than someone we respect. Plan to chat on the phone while you walk, or set up a group chat where you send photos after your workouts. Encourage each other when you succeed and check in on each other when someone misses a day.
7. Use Music and Podcasts to motivate you.
This one’s obvious. But music really makes a difference. It’s been psychologically proven that music reduces stress and actually fights fatigue in our brains. So, create a playlist of your ultimate jams and blast them!
Are you a more long-distance walker or biker? Music may not be your jam. For those who aren’t running or pumping iron, but are cruising at a slower pace for long stretches of time, you might find that your brain gets drifty and it’s hard to stay out there for as long as you’d like. That’s where Podcasts or Audiobooks come to save the day. Many long-distancers have found that using this time to listen to a book or something that is an audio treat, encourages them to stay longer and return excited for the next “chapter”.
8. Mix it up.
Wait, make a routine, then change it up? Yes, and no. Consistency and routine are absolutely essential but by nature, we need to change to keep ourselves interested. So while your lifestyle, routine, and dedication should stay consistent, find little ways to spice it up.
If you always run along the same stretch of beach, try a different part of town. If you work out in your garage, take it outside to the park. If you’ve been doing the same cardio dance DVD, try cardio kickboxing. Once a month try a new challenge. Try different sports. Add a new workout video to your week. It’s a great way to challenge yourself and stay motivated at the same time.
9. Reward yourself.
If it’s all work and no play, you’re going to start to resent it. One of the best ways for humans to stay motivated is the promise of reward. Now, the reward shouldn’t be something counteractive to your progress like a binge on pizza or taking a week off. Your reward should be a fitness-related treat that you’ve had your eye on. Some sexy new running shoes or that smart-watch that tracks your steps, or those noise-canceling super headphones, can go a long way in keeping your eyes on the prize.
Want more motivation? Check out MacroPlate’s easy at No-Equipment, At Home Full-Body Workout with videos! and read the inspiring true story about our customer and friend Mike, who lost 100 pounds eating MacroPlate meals and practicing consistency!