It’s no secret that an increasing number of people are struggling to stay fit. According to research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity among adults has significantly increased over the past few years. Overall obesity rates rose by 5.9% from 2007-2016 while the number of people who are severely obese increased from 5.7% to 7.7% of the population. This alarming trend is causing a plethora of health issues including diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and high cholesterol. Being active can help prevent these physical health issues, and provide mental and emotional benefits.
Depression and anxiety are becoming more common and can be linked to social isolation, poor diets, and a focus on money and image. Inactivity is a key factor that leads to poor mental health. Exercise has the ability to reduce stress hormones in the body such as adrenaline or cortisol. Additionally, working out stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body's natural painkillers, as well as chemicals that change your mood. These endorphins are responsible for the rush of relaxation or optimism that you feel following physical activity.
Once your workout routine starts affecting your physical and mental well-being, your behavior also may start to change. Having a consistent workout routine can improve self-image and lead to increased pride and self-confidence. Once you get into the habit of working out, the process of working out offers a mood boost with almost instant gratification. The effects of working out extend beyond the short-term. Consistent physical activity has shown to help alleviate long-term depression. In a study done by James Blumenthal at Duke
If exercise benefits the body and mind in so many ways, why is it that so many people don’t exercise? The answer is fitness motivation. It can be difficult to find motivation, and many people are looking for it in all of the wrong places.
There are two different types of motivation to consider when figuring out what works best for you: extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation can be described as behavior that is motivated by external factors like earning some type of reward or avoiding a less-than-positive outcome. Social recognition and praise are good examples of extrinsic motivation in fitness. Intrinsic motivation is defined as behavior that is motivated by an internal want to do something for its own sake. Good examples of this in fitness would be wanting to become healthier or finding joy in the process of working out. There is no perfect solution to keeping yourself motivated, however look for accountability and follow these tips to help you out along the way.
Both types of motivation are important to use in overcoming roadblocks to unlock fitness motivation. Extrinsic motivation works as an if/then process. This can be important when trying to achieve short-term goals. Losing 10 pounds, or wanting people to notice you are losing weight are both goals with extrinsic motivators. If you use this strategy as a long-term primary motivator, you run the risk of your fitness motivation being too reliant on aesthetics. Physical transformation as a goal is good when it is combined with other more sustainable, deeper connections to working out. This means that once you reach your goal it could be easy to relapse into bad habits or even not feel as satisfied with the external reward as you expected.
When thinking about long-term fitness goals, intrinsic motivation is key to success. The psychological components of being healthier need to be as rewarding as the physical change you see. This keeps you motivated and proud of the progress you have made in regard to energy levels, mood, and overall lifestyle. However, solely having a connection to intrinsic motivation can lead to complacency and missing out on the benefits of having tangible, concrete goals. In the long-term, intrinsic motivation may not always create a sense of urgency. Having the correct mix of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is an essential component of unlocking fitness motivation.
Having an unbalanced mixture of intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation serves as a common roadblock for people trying to reach their fitness goals. But, this isn’t the only roadblock that people run into.
Demanding work schedules derail fitness journeys for far too many people. In today’s economy people are working longer hours and taking less time away from work. Work-life balance has become a goal and not a standard for a lot of working people. The natural reaction to this is to take the free time that you have and enjoy it. However, with more work hours and more expected from you at work than ever before, stress is at an all-time high, which can lead to a lower quality of life. We previously discussed that people reduce stress levels by working out, but how, can people find the time? Getting fit can actually take less time than most people think. 20-30 minute workouts during the day can get you started in the right direction if done correctly. It might even be possible to reach your goals with as little as two workout per week. It takes some sacrifice and dedication, but going to bed on time and waking up earlier to go to the gym can boost your fitness level. It could be as simple as working out during your lunch break or stopping by the gym after work for 45 minutes before you head home to turn on the TV. The first step is to get started.
Another roadblock to fitness motivation for a lot of people is failing to find enjoyment in the workouts they are doing. Not being engaged in your workout can make working out feel like a chore. It is important to diversify the workouts you are doing and keep an open mind when trying new routines. If you have no investment in the workouts you do, it is going to make working out more difficult, especially in the beginning.
Failing to make feasible fitness goals can be a major deterrent to being motivated. Goal setting gives you something to work towards, and having goals reminds you why you are going through even the most difficult workout. Being able to rely on your “why” and the progress you have made towards your goals will keep you motivated in even the roughest times. Your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time sensitive. You can use the acronym “SMART” to remember this goal setting structure.
One last reason why so many people fail to unlock fitness motivation is a lack of patience. When striving to achieve fitness goals, you have to trust the process. In an age of technology and instant gratification, this can prove to be quite difficult for a lot of people. Workout results don’t come overnight. Men’s journal says that even with a healthy diet and a consistent workout plan, one might not start seeing results for up to a month.
Fitness motivation is essential in the process to become more fit however, if you can’t identify roadblocks on this journey, being motivated will only get you so far.
Being able to recognize when you are struggling to overcome a roadblock is essential to achieving your fitness goals. This takes a level of self-awareness and honesty that at times can be hard to achieve. You can’t achieve fitness goals by skipping steps and taking shortcuts. Being honest with yourself will allow you to see where you are coming up short in your fitness journey. Setting goals can streamline this process.
As an example, let's talk about James. He wants to get into better shape for his brother’s wedding this year. It is currently January and the wedding is in June. He has the date circled and has begun going to the gym and eating healthier at home. After 6 weeks of working out James has noticed he hasn’t made any progress and he wonders why. He’s getting worried he won’t meet his goal and is losing his sense of direction. Using the SMART goal setting technique, he can give himself a sense of direction. He notices he hasn’t made progress because he didn’t have a clear plan or way of knowing when his goal would be reached. Not understanding what you are aiming to do is a roadblock that oftentimes goes unnoticed.
In order to be honest with yourself you must have a way of measuring your honesty. Goal setting plays a big role in this. Writing down your goals and posting them somewhere accessible will give you a constant reminder of what you hope to achieve. The SMART goal-setting technique is widely used to help make realistic and attainable goals. When writing down your goals, you should go through the process described below.
Specific means your goal should be clear and easy to understand. Being clear and concise helps you navigate what you are trying to accomplish. Saying “I want to be healthier”, leaves too much room for interpretation. Having a goal like “I will lose weight”is a tangible, specific goal. You will know if you are making progress or not.
The next step in goal creation is to make your goals measurable. If we continue with the example of losing weight, you want to have a way of observing the progress you have made (or not made). Adding a specific number helps make this measurable and track specific progress towards your fitness goals. Your goal should be “I want to lose 10 pounds” rather than “I want to lose weight”. Having something specific to strive for keeps you motivated.
Once you make your goals measurable, you have to ensure that they are actually attainable. When creating goals you should shoot for the stars, but you don’t want to set goals that are going to discourage you in your journey of becoming more fit. In fitness, there is a fine line between pushing yourself and being unrealistic. At the same time, you don’t want to set goals that are going to be too easy to accomplish. Although they are opposite problems, they both result in a drop in motivation. If your goal is to lose weight, it should be a goal that is possible to achieve. Setting a goal like, “I will lose 30 pounds this month”, is extremely unlikely. An attainable goal would be, “I want to lose 10 pounds this month”. Although the goal is still challenging, it gives a reasonable goal to strive for.
Your goals also need to be something that you can create a personal connection with. You want to make sure you are creating goals that are relevant to you. It’s easy to allow outside forces to dictate your fitness goals. Succumbing to this kind of influence again can create a rift in your own levels of motivation. If you don’t have a personal investment in the goals you are setting, what is going to keep you engaged in the pursuit of them? If somebody tells you that you should be able to squat 225 pounds, but you want to be able to run a mile in 8 minutes, then you need not prioritize being able to squat 225 pounds.
Finally, you want to always create goals that are time-bound. Failing to give yourself a time-frame in which you want to reach your fitness goals can result in complacency. If you have the goal of losing 10 pounds, you should have a timeframe set in which you want this goal to be achieved by. You can say it should take you two months to lose the 10 pounds you want to lose. Having a timeline lights a fire that sometimes is necessary in making the initial steps to get started. Creating a timeframe for your goals helps keep you motivated and focused on what you need to do.
Now that you know how to set your goals, you need a way to track your progress. Because of stress from work, family events, and just life in general, it can be easy to get knocked off your path when pursuing fitness goals. Going to the gym and working out frequently becomes the first thing people trim from their schedule when they get busy. Prioritization of the gym falls away from what people deem as important. It doesn’t have to be that way. Beginning a fitness journal can help you keep track of how often you are making strides weekly in your fitness journey. This is a step towards self accountability and can work to keeping you motivated. When you reflect on the notes and entries you have made, you see a real time truth about your progress. There can be no lying or self deception. Seeing yourself doing well in your journal can serve as affirmation to keep going. If you happen to be struggling, the journal can serve as a match to kick start moving in the right direction again. When you look back at what you’ve done, you can determine what has been working for you and what things haven’t. This process will help you identify personal roadblocks that are keeping you from achieving your personal fitness goals.
When working towards fitness goals there are many things that can become roadblocks. These bumps in the road are inevitable as you pursue your fitness goals, but they can be overcome if you have the right mindset.
Now James has the tools he needs to identify roadblocks, but how can he overcome them? To understand what he actually wants to accomplish and how to get there he should make a goal using the SMART technique. His new goal should be to lose 10 pounds so that he can fit into his favorite suit by the beginning of May. This goal gives him a better sense of direction and a clearer picture of the goals he is shooting for. When thinking about his goals, he might opt for a workout after work instead of going to grab drinks on Tuesdays. He also decides to go to the gym directly after work instead of going home first. Even something as little as doing 20 minutes of cardio at the gym instead of 10 can help James meet his goals. Knowing your goals is vital to overcoming challenges that that spring up along the way, but there are several other strategies you can use hurdle over any roadblocks that you face.
It can be easy to get bored with your normal workout routine. To keep yourself engaged and excited about the workouts you’re doing and the lifestyle you are living, it can be beneficial to diversify the workout routines you use. There are numerous ways you can get a workout in, ranging from lifting weights to jumping rope and everything in between. Not only will switching up your workout styles keep you engaged mentally, but it also won’t allow your body to become accustomed to one routine. However, keeping yourself engaged mentally in your fitness is only half the battle.
Another way to overcome personal roadblocks that make achieving your fitness goals challenging is to workout with other people. Working out in a group offers a handful of benefits that increase your chances of achieving your fitness goals. When you make a commitment to other people to workout together, it is hard to give up on the collective because everyone draws motivation from the group itself. A study published in the Journal of Sciences states that people participating in in group fitness tend to pick up exercise tendencies of the people around them.
Working out in a group forces you to push yourself harder, and psychology plays a huge role. It’s called the Kohler Effect. The Kohler Effect is the idea that in a group setting, nobody wants to be viewed as the weakest link of the group. This type of competitive edge in workouts is welcomed. Pushing yourself to be better can only have positive effects in your fitness journey. The support and accountability you get from sharing an experience with other people can work wonders in helping you overcome any roadblocks in your path. Being a part of a team is a great way to keep your motivation up.
If working out in a group isn’t something you want or can partake in, try to focus your attention inward. Often times, once people start working out, they will shift their primary focus towards results, but it’s important to remember that a balance of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is key to success. Extrinsic motivation will come naturally, but with intrinsic motivation you might have to take a step back to remember why you are working to become more fit. Remember that you are doing this for yourself so that you can be healthier and proud of the progress you have made. Positive physical transformations are welcomed, but should be icing on the cake (figuratively speaking of course). This moment of reflection becomes easier if you make your goals, write them down, and keep notes of your progress. Depending on your experience level, access to groups, or simply lack of fitness motivation, you might still need a slight push over the edge to begin reaching your fitness goals goals. This is where having a fitness coach can be instrumental to unlocking fitness motivation.
Sometimes, the hardest part of following a fitness routine is getting started, but it’s not the only obstacle. Personal trainers are a great source of constant feedback and drive to push yourself harder. Having your own fitness coach might just be the missing piece in unlocking your fitness motivation and achieving your fitness goals.
Many people find that they have their best fitness success with coaches. From the very beginning of working out with a fitness coach, you are matched with someone who is invested in your fitness goals. Having a trainer consistently working with you will provide an ample amount of fitness motivation as they continuously encourage you to complete workouts. A trainer will provide you with a set schedule and plan that will help keep you accountable for your fitness. Building a level of trust with someone else during fitness is rewarding because you have someone in your corner who wants to see you succeed.
Outside of reassurance, accountability, and motivation, a fitness coach can help make sure you are getting the most out of your workouts. They can provide you with instructions on the correct form so you can avoid any setbacks due to injury and are maximizing each aspect of your workout. The individual attention a coach provides can be instrumental in getting the most out of the time you have dedicated to working out. Trainers can develop a plan specific to your body and how it reacts to certain movements and exercises. The attention to detail and amount of support you have when working with a personal trainer allows you to build confidence in yourself and trust that the energy you are exerting is maximized.
Working with a personal trainer doesn’t have to be all about working out. If you have a hard time working out in group settings, or don’t have people to workout with, a personal trainer can allow you to experience the same type of effects working out with others would have on you. Building a personal connection with a peer alleviates some of the pressure you would be forced to handle if you were doing a difficult workout on your own.
Working with a fitness coach will empower you to unlock your fitness motivation. An external voice has the ability to keep you focused and motivated while making sure you are safe and reaching the goals you have set for yourself. A fitness coach provides you with professional direction and the support you will need on your path to being fit.
At Ladder, we aim to transform the way coaches and their clients interact by using a platform that encourages consistent contact with unlimited communication. The ability to set goals, ask questions, and check-in on demand with your trainer, is the perfect way to help you reach your fitness goals. With 1-on-1 personalized plans coaches can be a steady voice of encouragement and accountability.