By signing up for a gym membership or working with a personal trainer, you have already committed to getting active and leading a healthy life style, so you are on your way to a fitter you. But how do you keep motivated to exercise regularly and eat the right things? What will stop you from slipping back into lazy ways? How will you avoid reaching for the sweets, cakes and chocolate when you are peckish rather than the fruit and vegetables?
A little help from friendsWhile a lot of motivation has to be self-perpetuated – you have to want to do it – it is also hugely motivational if someone is there to lend support when necessary.
Starting an exercise programme with a friend is always a good idea. You can help each other to stick to your plans and if one of you is wavering, the other one can be the motivator. Involving your friends and family in your goals is also a great motivator. If you are getting support and praise for your efforts, your self confidence and self belief will rise, and those goals will not seem so far away.
Making the smart choiceBut, your support network can not always be on hand, so it is important that you have the means to motivate yourself. One of the best ways of doing this is to adapt the SMART principles of motivation to your fitness goals.
Although SMART, which helps set and achieve targets, is mainly used in business settings, its principles can be applied to any area of life and health and fitness is a prime example.
Specific - make your goals specific so you can focus on them. For example, rather than saying ‘I want to be able to increase my upper body strength’, say ‘I want to be able to do 10 wide-arm pull-ups by December,’
Measurable - your goals should be measurable. ‘I will do 45 minutes of cardio, three times a week.’
Attainable - there is no point in setting a goal that is too ambitious as it will leave you feeling disappointed and discouraged. Don’t say, ‘I’ve entered the marathon, I want to run a sub-three hour.’
Realistic - your goals must be realistic. If you have just started swimming, there is nothing to be gained by planning to swim the Channel in six weeks time. If you set unrealistic goals, you will never experience the pleasure of achieving them.
Time specific - set a time limit on achieving your goals. ‘By Christmas I want to be able to run five miles comfortably’. If you don't set a time limit, your goals lose their focus.