What are your motivations for getting into shape? Maybe you're trying to lose some weight, gain some muscle, or run a 5k. Regardless of what your end goal is, what happens when you finally reach it? Ideally you would continue with the good habit and incorporate fitness into your life. However, other factors of your busy life may distract you from your plans – remember those new years resolutions? – and eventually your resolve which once burned strong now begins to fade.
So let's take a look at a pretty typical work out cycle and determine where the motivation breaks, and how to stop it from ever happening.
This is when the new year has started, and your mind is fresh with the thought of being fit, active, and healthy all year. You have a healthy eating plan laid out, your gym schedule is posted in your bedroom, and you have a bunch of new exercise gear that you can't wait to put to good use. Every day as you leave work, you are excited to check-in on Facebook to let everyone know you're taking your plan into action. Things are going great, and you're starting to get used to the good habit and you're feeling better about yourself. This high may last a few months depending on your personal drive. Some make it to summer with a good body, but how long until a good habit turns into a mundane routine?
Devil on the Shoulder:
You've worked so hard for the past few months, and you're beginning to see positive changes in your body. The thought of the gym is less dreadful, workouts are getting less tiring, and you're beginning to have more energy. You're pretty satisfied with yourself for being able to come this far, so why not treat yourself to some junk food as a reward? After you're done eating the whole pizza or super sized meal, what are the chances that you actually go work out? This is typically referred to as a "cheat day." Time progresses and you begin to incorporate the cheat day into your weekly routine. However, you're beginning to reach the point where the devil on the shoulder tells you, "It's okay. You've worked so hard, another extra day off won't make a big difference." Before long you're taking more cheat days and you find yourself going down a...
At this point, you begin to find that it's just easier to sit at home and eat than to lift weights or go for a run. Your mind gets comfortable with the fact that the six months of exercise just might be enough to compensate for six months of unhealthy habits. Rewards become justifications, justifications become excuses, excuses lead to guilt, and guilt kills the goal. What once started out as a strong desire to see yourself lose weight and be fit has turned into a negative mindset of "It's just too much work to maintain."
So, what's the problem? Certainly it is not about your physical ability to do it. Rather, the problem ultimately comes from your reason for working out. If you're working out to get an awesome beach body or simply to impress other people, your habit will not last long. The ultimate goal for any healthy habit should never be in vain, but for your health in the long term. Think about it! Beauty is trivial and fleeting, but your health is what will keep you happy over the years. The most difficult part about staying fit is the mental battle, but if you are truly doing it for your health, you will be much more motivated to get your butt off the couch and start exercising! Remember this: Fitness is for LIFE.