I get emails like this all the time: “Hey Lauren, I’m still struggling with motivation to work out. Yesterday I didn’t go to the gym for no reason at all! I’m not sure how to get out of this funk. Any tips?”
And lemme tell you, I feel this so hard!
I’ve been through my own struggle to get my butt to the gym because I just don’t feel like it but I know it’s good for me (both mentally & physically!) if I go. It was an internal battle every day on deciding if I wanted to go or not. I knew I should workout, but I really didn’t want to. It sucked because it lasted a while, but then I realized something….I was seriously BORED with my workouts and that right there is enough to derail anyone from getting it done.
Research tells us there are three things we need in order to get and stay motivated:
Autonomy- being in charge of and liking our own choices
Competence- getting and being good at what we choose to do
Relatedness- being a part of a community and feeling connected with others
So how does this tie into fitness and fat loss? Lemme explain…
I can’t tell you how many times this has happened: During a client intake I ask someone their current exercise routine and they say “Well I run sometimes but I hate it and I’m not really good at it.” So naturally my next question is “If you hate running, why do you do it?” to which they reply “because I want to lose weight.” And I get it, running burns a lot of calories and it can certainly help with losing fat and overall fitness, however, what’s better: doing something you hate inconsistently because of a result it might produce, OR, doing something you really like or love consistently and getting the same result? The only way you’re going to be motivated to eat well or exercise consistently is if you actually like what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.
If an exercise program or nutrition plan feels too hard or too foreign, if it’s too much of an absolute overhaul from what we’re used to doing, if it’s too restrictive or demanding, it’s just not going to stick. That’s why baby steps are critical when you’re looking to change an exercise or nutrition habit. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t try new things because you’ll never know what you actually get good at or like without trying, but when you’re stuck in a funk, go back to basics. What do you love doing? What make exercise or eating well feel really good and really fun? Find your answer, then do that.
It’s a basic human need to feel connected to someone or something. Personally, I’ve always hated working out at home but I love being in the gym or taking a group class. I get to be around people, I get to compete (even if it’s only in my head) and it’s fun for me to feed off of other people’s energy. If you’re like me, you’ll find every excuse in the book to not pick up those dumbbells that have become door-stoppers at home, and you’ll thrive much better in a gym setting. On the flip side are those who love working out at home. They feel connected in some way to the trainer on TV, be it Jillian Michaels, Cathe Friedrich, the Tone It Up girls, etc., there’s something about them that makes these people feel included. Even for those who don’t use DVDs and workout at home, their relatedness might be at a family level. They might feel like they’re still involved in the family stuff even if they’re out in their garage getting their sweat on.
If you’re not feeling motivated or if your motivation is off and on, check in on your autonomy, competence and relatedness towards what you’re currently doing. You deserve to find a way to make a healthy lifestyle work for you- forever. You can have fun with it and really love the way you exercise and love the way you eat. It just takes some trial and error to get there.