Is today your quitters day?
If you read the darn internet, sometime between last Friday and today is apparently the day that folks with new years goals give up and head back to the couch. Maybe this was or is you. So today is a good day for some reminders on how to stay motivated. You don't have to conquer the world in 20 days. You just have to keep moving forward.
Realistic goals. If you're coming from a very inactive recent background, then working out every day is not realistic. Working out every 2-3 days is more achievable and will set you on the path to more daily exercise. You don't have to run 3 miles for it to count. Walking for 30+ minutes, doing a 20-30 minute yoga class, or riding any sort of bike for a similar amount of time will get you going. If 30 minutes is a stretch, try 15-20 minute sessions until your fitness starts to catch up.
Reward yourself. Total diet restriction is another setup for failure. Allow yourself to enjoy some treats. Just not the whole box.
Take baby steps. If your goal is to run a half-marathon or something along those lines by the end of the year, but you've been inactive for several years, start with 1 mile of walk-jogging. Build from there. Attempting longer distances right out of the gate is asking for injury.
Find support groups. This really makes a mental difference. Having a reliable friend or group of friends you can commiserate with, cheer on, and work out together is a huge boost to your motivation.
Use a fitness app. These allow you to track your progress, join other online groups with similar goals, and generally makes your more accountable.
Work on your self-confidence. You don't need to compare yourself to Totally Ripped Joe, or IronLisa. You do you, baby!
Don't beat yourself up. If you miss a session, or have a bad day, you have to move on. Start anew the next day. Every morning you wake up is another chance to make something happen.
Work out in the morning. From life experience, we can report that training first thing in the day is the best and most opportune time for a majority of lifetime athletes. It gives you some peace of mind to start the day. You get the session done before life, family, and work start to drain your mental resources. Greet the sunrise!
Get your sleep. Nothing derails the best laid plans like fatigue. Set yourself up with a routine bedtime. Stick to it.
Be your best friend. Ultimately you need to be your number one cheerleader. Work on talking yourself up, telling yourself good job, patting yourself on the back, and looking in the mirror with a wink and a smile.
Use family for motivation. If your goals are ultimately health related, use the reminder that your family relies on you and wants you around as long as possible. Do it for them when you don't want to do it for yourself.
Marty Gaal, CSCS, is a USA Triathlon coach who lives in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Marty has been coaching endurance athletes since 2002. You can read more about OSB coaching services at www.osbmultisport.com.