Your motivation in fitness has a lot to do with what else happens in your day.
People are reacting to the new way of living in different ways. Some people are quicker to adapt and fill their new free time with activities such as knitting courses or Jigsaw puzzles – and let all of us know via social media. Others are really struggling in fitting everything in and finding some time for themselves. There is another category that simply turned into a couch potato and doesn’t have any motivation to do anything. And it’s okay. We all have different coping mechanism and we are all trying to work it out. The process can be longer for some and full of ups and downs. The important thing here is to spend less time at looking what the neighbour does and focus on our own wellbeing
But is there a way to boost motivation to do things – or in the specific to work out – when we are running short of willpower?
In my opinion yes.
Here is the trick: the motivation to get off the couch it is not being in the couch in the first place. In other words; the motivation to exercise comes from loads of external factors not just from willpower. We spoke about Quarantine Routine few weeks ago which is definitely an important thing to nail to keep your motivation high.
But rather than routine today I’d like to introduce a new concept. Rituals.
Rituals that you love.
You have an unmatched and unprecedented opportunity to do all the things that you always thought you could do if your life looked different or – better – was less busy. How many times on your commute to work, while squashed between some sweaty armpits trying to read your paper or your book you imagined yourself in your kitchen instead, reading that same paper or book in front of a steaming cup of coffee? You now have the opportunity to do that. To take your morning a little slower using that same commute time to do something that allows you to start your day in the best way possible.
The power of affirmation.
I find that a great way to set up my day to be a successful one is to open my journal before reaching for the phone and write down three affirmations. The power of affirmation has been proven by loads of scientific papers which I don’t need to bore you with here. Muhammad Ali said “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”.
Your morning affirmations don’t need to be original thoughts or new ones every day. You can have the same affirmation day in and day out. You can go on Pinterest and copy them from some inspiration board. Or your affirmation can be a quote you saw on social media or you live by. Whatever they are and where they are from, it is important that you write them down or you speak them out loud in the shower to give them power.
Give yourself breaks.
Taking small breaks and often from your work flow is also key to both ensure productivity and mental health. For breaks I don’t mean picking up your phone and start mindlessly scrolling on your Insta, but rather opening the window to look outside – preferably over some green – doing a 2-minute breathing exercise, playing your favourite song and dancing to it, making yourself a cup of tea and sipping it slowly on the balcony.
Make technology work for you.
Speaking about technology it is important more than ever that you make it to work for you and not against you. If looking at your social media feeds gives you anxiety, fear of missing out or somewhat make you feel inadequate, you clearly need to stop and replace that time with something else. Think about it this way: if touching a hot pan burns you, you most likely won’t touch the same hot pan over and over again (unless you wear mittens). Follow the accounts which empower you and give you some sort of inspiration, unfollow the rest. Limit the time you spend on your tech devices. If you work on a computer all day try not to spend your free time on your phone or in front of the television.
Another thing to consider is setting yourself boundaries even if you are at home. You don’t need to jump on Houseparty every evening if you don’t feel like it. Staying connected is important, but if the conversation impact you negatively can become detrimental. Only speak to people which improve your day and radiate positive vibes – even from the phone. Limit the amount of availability that you give your co-workers, your boss, your friends to call you. If something can be solved by email, try and suggest that.
Organise your space.
Try to organise your house so that you have a certain space where you eat, where you work, where are you relax, where you exercise even if it’s in the same room. Be strict with those boundaries.
Dopamine-releasing food: small portions and often.
Stock your pantries with food that release dopamine such as avocado, nuts, dark chocolate, protein-rich foods like turkey, beef, eggs, dairy, soy and legumes. Eat small meals and often to give yourself excuses to take breaks, but also avoiding large meals that will make you feel stuffed and lethargic. Also when you feel very full you will be less likely inclined to work out.
Find activities that you truly look forward to do.
And finally note that the time you give to exercise should be enjoyable, something that you do for yourself. For exercise bunnies this quarantine is an opportunity to focus more on their fitness goals. Which – on the other hand – for people who don’t love to exercise can be annoying, especially by having their social media account flooded with workout inspiration. Exercise shouldn’t be another reason for beating yourself up. Make it an opportunity to have fun, to connect with your body and distress.
Exercise should be one of the rituals we spoke about at the beginning of this article. Something that you love doing. Surf the net and try something new now that there is so much content available. Or stick to a reliable plan that you can come back to every day. Having some sort of goal can also keep you motivated. Although it is important to manage your expectations of what you can achieve during quarantine while setting it. Involve a friend in a workout challenge, so beside benefitting you, you will have some more topics to speak about.
You do you.
The important message of this article, and something I’d like to leave you with this week is: it’s okay if you feel that you haven’t figure it all out or you feel back in hell spiral after you thought you did. Don’t beat yourself up, focus on what could you be doing instead. And even if it’s not much – appreciate it and give yourself a big pat on your back. And remember, you do you!