Motivation: Once You've Got It, How Do You Stay Motivated?

by Sportitude
8 Oct 2019

With our excuse-busting tips on how to break out of your workout slump under your belt, you've rediscovered how to spark your motivation - and that takes guts.

It's probably dawned on you that motivation can be naturally occuring but in many cases, igniting your motivation takes conscious effort and like any fire or muscle, you need to fuel it.

We're all wired differently, so taking a personal approach to motivation is essential. Discover what works with you and your lifestyle with our self-motivating hacks to keep you on track.

You’ve worked hard - treat yourself

Nothing beats a warm bath or unwinding to chill-worthy tunes after a sweat session. Every hard effort deserves a reward – and in fact many experts say that immediate, smaller rewards are more likely to sustain your motivation and interest, rather than waiting on the completion of a larger goal to treat yourself to a more substantial reward.

Find your bliss post-workout – whether it’s treating yourself to a cup of coffee, self-massage with massage and recovery equipment like a foam roller, or taking some ‘me’ time to enjoy your favourite flicks or curl up with a juicy book.

But enjoy the process, and soak in the mood-boosting benefits of exercise and the sense of mental and physical empowerment that comes with it.

"Running allows me to set my mind free. Nothing seems impossible. Nothing unattainable." - Kara Goucher, (Olympic long-distance runner)

Can you train and eat your cake too?

It’s best not to. As much as we hate to say it, it’s counterproductive to reward a 5km run by downing a tub of ice cream. Instead, focus on goal-appropriate rewards.

When you’ve succeeded in your larger goal (e.g. run a half marathon), consider rewards that set you up for your next one – like retail therapy to gear you up with new running shoes or gym equipment.

Dishing out for a professional massage is also a favourite – helping relieve physical and mental tension to kick-start your recovery and reduce injury risk.

Prioritise emotional rewards

Emotional rewards felt internally are the most powerful for life-long motivation.

The sense of satisfaction and joy experienced as a result of committing to a task and overcoming its obstacles until completion outweighs the more superficial, external motivations in the long-term.

Making time to priortise your physical and mental wellbeing can provide self-sustaining motivation and act as its own reward, while allowing you to take positive steps towards your end goal.  

Although your end goal may be your dominant motivating factor, you don’t necessarily have to zoom out to see the bigger picture. Your everyday reward can be as simple as the pride you feel internally when you reach the front door with sweat plastered to your forehead and muscles aching.

Finding the power within yourself to push through each struggle as you grind towards your greater goal and unlock your mental strength feels amazing - let the sensation wash over you and fuel future action.

"There is no way around the hard work. Embrace it." - Roger Federer (tennis player)

Commit to your goal every day

Make it the lock screen on your smartphone, pin it to the fridge, put a sticky note on the bathroom mirror, tell your friends and family, share your goal on social media and place inspiring fitness books on your coffee table.

The important thing is that you not only acknowledge but mentally commit to your goal daily – and keeping reminders of it in plain sight will help motivate you to stay on track.

Rinse, run, repeat can only get you so far

Boredom is a one-way ticket to getting trapped in a fitness funk. As valuable as it is to find your own rhythm as you solidify healthy habits, it’s important to occasionally shake things up. For runners, change your running route and running surface regularly.

Trading the concrete jungle for natural trails has multiple benefits to mind and body, as does choosing routes that put your uphill running technique to the test. Which ties into our next point…

The fitness trifecta

Often referred to as the fitness trifecta, a combination of cardio, strength and flexibility exercises ensure a well-balanced and fresh fitness routine, for both motivation-boosting mental stimulation and physical benefits.

Stripping it back to bare basics, cardio activities such as running promote heart health, strength training such as dumbbell exercises, kettlebell exercises and other resistance exercises promote muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility exercises such as yoga aid in mental wellbeing, balance and proprioception.

Not only does cross-training beat boredom and keep you motivated, but it ensures you don’t inadvertently neglect to exercise specific muscles, or on the flipside, overwork specific muscles and cause injury. Just be sure to wear the right shoes for the right job

"It's important to just kind of get away from your sport until you miss it... It's about taking time to enjoy other aspects of life or learn new things. It helps rejuvenate." - Misty May-Treanor (proessional beach volleyball player)

Find the right gym

A gym membership can be a continuous motivator to keep you on track of your fitness goals – but it pays to be picky. Above all, you want to feel comfortable and at ease the moment you walk through the door – if you feel intimidated, you’ll never be motivated to come back.

Look locally. If you can avoid driving and get there by foot, even better. Gym franchises also give you the advantage of being able to choose any of their locations. Having a 24 hour gym close to work and one close to home is ideal – giving you more flexibility in the time you workout and making it more likely you’ll commit to it.

Build a home gym

If a gym membership isn’t for you, consider creating a home gym or fitness nook in your home. Having fitness equipment easily accessible can keep you motivated and allows you to build on intensity as you progress.

Dumbbells and weights, jump rope, yoga mats and foam rollers are versatile basics to stay on track of your training at home. But what’s your #1 fitness tool?

Your body.

Whether you’re using your own bodyweight as a form of resistance during squats and push ups or getting twisty with a yoga session, there’s never an excuse to skip your workout simply because you don’t have the tools. 

Think outside-the-gym

Humans spend stacks of time cooped up indoors, but with the sun shining and birds singing, you’ll be busting to get out and experience the positive, stress-reducing vibes of nature.

After every spring rain, the air has a special sweetness to it that beckons you to explore, embrace the outdoors and be naturally inspired by the world around you.

Whether you love running, hiking, cycling, kayaking, swimming or outdoor Pilates, there's mountains of ways to stay fit beyond four walls and to transform the outdoors into your personal gym.   

"I make sure that I get outdoors to move my body every day... A bike ride, a walk or run, Pilates - anything that gets me moving is good. I know it seems counter-intuitive but when you're tired, sometimes working out can be a better boost than a nap!" - Turia Pitt (ultramarathon runner, motivational speaker and author)

Wear the right gear

What you wear during your training can make or break your workout. Cotton absorbs sweat like a sponge, leaving a heavy, sticky feeling on your skin and increasing your risk of chafing and discomfort.

To stay motivated and never weighed down by your activewear, choose lightweight performance fabrics and dress for the conditions – whether it’s fighting off sweat in the summer, layering up in winter or staying protected during rainy runs.

The right workout gear can make you feel good from the inside out – and you’ll be busting to show it off on social media, at the gym or on the pavement.  

Send the Monday blues running

An early-week workout sets a positive tone for the coming days, jump-starting your momentum and giving yourself a head start on your weekly training goals.

As an extra motivational boost, studies show exercise elevates your happiness levels, creativity and energy – making you more productive and focussed as you commit to it throughout the week.  

"Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest." - Huruki Marakami (author and runner)

Rise and shine

Early bird sweat sessions kick-start your day with a sense of achievement and actively allow you to build upon your mental toughness.

Ticking off your training in the morning also reduces the risk of time-consuming commitments delaying your workouts. It also beats procrastination before it has the chance to set in.

When the temptation to snooze is super hard to shake, put these bed-friendly yoga exercises to the test to give your mind and body a rejuvenating wake up call and flow into your day.   

“True champions aren't always the ones that win, but those with the most guts.” - Mia Hamm (soccer player)

Lock in your workouts but be flexible

Cementing workout sessions into your weekly schedule keeps you on track of your fitness goals. But unexpected things will pop up and throw your schedule out of whack, causing you to skip a workout.  

Don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead, be flexible when you can. If you must miss a morning workout, shift it to the evening for that day. This ensures you won’t lose out on the benefits and paves the way to keep your routine fresh and invigorating.

But if there’s no way you can reschedule…

Don’t sweat over a missed workout

Instead, take it as an unofficial rest day. Rest days are a critical part of recovery, allowing your muscles to repair and mind to unwind.

Don’t try to beat the guilt by doubling up your next workout back-to-back, which can negatively impact recovery – wearing down both your muscles and motivation. Simply pick up where you left off, rededicate yourself to your fitness routine and carry on.

Encourage yourself to not bail on a workout simply because you don’t feel like it that day. Even if you feel unmotivated, it’s best to fight through it and you’ll come out the other side feeling inspired from rising to the challenge. 

Short on time? HIIT it

HIIT or high intensity interval training is your anywhere, anytime workout method to burn fat fast.

It involves short bursts of activity (e.g. 45 - 60 seconds), at 80% - 95% of your estimated maximal heart rate, broken by short rest periods (e.g. 60 – 120 seconds), followed by an ‘afterburn’ effect.

Oxygen remains in high demand by your body even during recovery. Your body continues to work hard to deliver oxygen to muscle as it restores your body back to its ‘status quo’ or pre-workout state.

Due to the high intensity, HIIT puts you at risk of burning out fast - so be sure to not skip recovery (with rest or only low-intensity training in-between HIIT workouts) and consult your personal trainer for guidance on how to integrate it into your fitness routine.

Workout with a friend or furry pal

Having a go-to running or workout buddy holds you accountable. Pressing the snooze button on yourself is one thing but knowing that your friend will be left waiting for you on the track if you do will help you commit.

You may not need to look further than your furry pal – studies suggest dog owners tend to be more active than people without dogs. Even on days where you’d rather have a slouch session over a sweat session, knowing that your dog relies on it will motivate you to lace and leash up.

Dog free household? Don’t sweat it – dog shelters are frequently looking for volunteer dog walkers, and you can smile knowing you’re making a difference while enjoying the personal health benefits.

"[A dog is] an exercise machine with hair." - Dr Jacqueline Epping (public health researcher)

Sign up to a charity run

Go the extra mile and sign up for a charity run to double up on motivation – running for fun and fitness, while making a difference in your local community and supporting a cause that sparks your passion.

Everydayhero puts a spotlight on Australian fundraising events that get your body moving. Rope in your family or friends for the ride to make the most of the day. 

Join a running group or group fitness class

Joining a tribe of fellow fitness fanatics adds a social element to your training, allowing you to soak in the support of others and creating an environment where you can continuously improve. Whether it’s a local running group, yoga or Zumba class, social exercise can be a vibrant and rewarding experience.

Like a smile, motivation is contagious and having those weekly sessions scheduled in ensures consistency within your workout routine and holds you accountable.

Even if you can’t commit to a regular fitness group, there’s so many ways to stay connected – from fitness trackers that allow you to challenge your friends and family to a weekly step count challenge, to online fitness communities to give you a motivational boost. 

"The best motivation is having training partners. If you plan to meet someone, you can't bail on them, and it gets you out the door. It's also more fun, and you have someone to talk with the whole time." - Gwen Jorgensen (professional distance runner and former professional triathlete)

When you fall off-track, get up again

The road to success is dirty. There are days when you’re going to feel like your body is failing you, or that you’ve lost your mental strength and self-discipline on the track. Every obstacle, whether mental or physical, presents a challenge you can overcome.

Self-doubt or injury may temporarily put you on the sidelines of your fitness journey, but you will defeat it and rediscover your power to push on.

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up." – Dean Karnazes (ultramarathon runner)