Whether you’re a die-hard gym junkie or a regular but more reluctant exerciser we all reach plateaus… in our weight loss, our endurance, our strength and our motivation. But finding ways to re-motivate yourself when you exercise will help you break through those flat feelings and enjoy new peaks in performance across all metrics.
By simply adding more fun to fitness you will find you look forward to exercise more keenly, enjoy your workout more than ever and in many cases notice your sessions last longer and even happen more regularly in most cases.
Play with your Playlist
Motivational music has a lifespan. If your workout playlist has remained unchanged for over three months, the ability of your music to motivate you will be negligible.
So reach for your MP3 player now and create a playlist of new upbeat and inspirational music with the odd curveball thrown in.
Add to it at least one of the following: your favourite kids’ TV show theme tune, a dance along track from a holiday in your teens or even your wedding song. None of these may have the beats per minute you’re used to but the memories they evoke will be nothing but happy and have a clever psychological effect.
In NLP it’s called anchoring and it’s a process by which an external trigger, in this case the music, will create an external response. Then because you’re exercising while the good feelings emerged the next time you’re exercising those feelings are likely to re-emerge again whether you hear the song or not.
Try it – if someone overhears what you’re playing you may even enjoy the bonus of finding a fellow Teletubbies fan at the gym!
Get the family in on the act
They say the family that plays together stays together. So, instead of excluding your clan from exercise, see if you can include them.
Small children can be great for a resistance workout, older children love to cycle alongside their folks when they’re running and many older parents would gladly trade some teatime TV for a trip to the gym. All level events like Park Run welcome all generations and a bottle of water on the bench with your folk once you’re done is more bonding than a Simpsons-style squeeze onto the sofa.
Getting away from the home is a great tonic too, denying us the distraction of TV and tablets and enabling some good old fashioned chat.
Give yourself new goals and rewards
While the end game may be a target weight or a time, having fun mini goals along the way and enjoyable rewards for achieving them add extra enjoyment to exercise.
- You could count the minutes you’ve spent exercising and every time you hit 1,000 indulge yourself with a massage
- You could pop a map of the UK on the fridge and draw a line from Land’s End to John O’Groats and mark off every mile until you’ve covered the country. Wherever you finish each time Google the town to see if you can find a funny fact about it along the way
- You could monitor your weight loss on a star chart and treat yourself to new clothes, nice toiletries or make-up after every milestone
Whatever you do, think in achievable milestones and indulgent rewards to keep you on track.
Wear something silly
If you’re the kind of person who likes drawing attention to yourself you can get more enjoyment out of exercise by looking silly. A tutu on the treadmill, a tiara in your spin class, a bow tie when you’re weight training will bring a smile to those you encounter, break the ice with lots of strangers and get everyone giggling.
If you’re more of a private person then take something with you that makes you chortle – you could wear a pair of comedy pants and no one need know, or you can make the screensaver on your phone an image of your favourite comic. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it brings a smile to your face.
Laughing boosts immunity, lowers stress, boosts energy levels and protects you from pain – all of which are hugely beneficial when you’re working out.
Change your scenery
Finally, simply changing where you do as opposed to what you do can make exercise more enjoyable. Being outside whenever you can is great for pretty much everyone. The open space and fresh air both give you a feel good factor.
If you’re a runner research parks a little further from home to take in new scenery, if you’re a swimmer try a pool less local to you, and if you feel tied to a gym membership search for free trials in your area or blag a guest pass from a friend who exercises somewhere else.
Just changing your environment every now and then will reinvigorate your commitment to exercise and you’ll find the time goes quicker because there are so many new factors to filter.
Trade dread for delight
So next time you hit a plateau or are dreading going to the gym, remember feeling better about what you’re doing will make you better at what you’re doing. Have fun!