Get Moving and Stay Motivated: Expert Tips to Power Through Your Fitness Slump
Probably the most common reason that people give up on working out has to do with the lack of results showing. Some are quick to point at social media for giving people grand expectations for reaching unrealistic results in insanely short amounts of time. However, for anyone who can recall what life was like before social media, we were constantly bombarded with such fantastical advertisements on TV, billboards, radio, and magazines.
As technology has continued to advance, our expectations to have things happen on the fly have expanded, as well. Just like we have come to expect being able to watch a new movie or listen to a new album without leaving your bed, it leads folks to get frustrated when they don’t get what they want as fast as they would like. This is especially problematic with those who have grown frustrated because their fitness goals have yet to materialize.
The most unfortunate consequence arising from lacking results is that it leads people to make poor decisions out of desperation. On the extreme end of the spectrum, some go so far that they develop eating disorders or have to be hospitalized because of the extreme measures they have taken to reach their goals. If you’re someone who has been working out, but starting to feel a tad frustrated because you haven’t been seeing results, here are a couple tips just for you.
For most recreational gym-goers, the mirror and the scale are the most common forms progress trackers. The thing about these two methods is that we see ourselves in the mirror so often that it is difficult to tell if any noticeable changes have taken place; as for the scale, weight fluctuates all the time, so it’s hard to tell where you really stand. One of my favorite methods is to keep a training journal, and here are a couple reasons why.
Let’s be honest, there is absolutely no way that you can remember your progress during your workouts, so tracking your progress in a journal could really benefit you. Tracking progress can increase awareness of small improvements and successes over time. The best thing is that this can motivate you to continue working out even if you’re not seeing dramatic changes.
Being able to look back in your training journal can be really motivating. Seeing progress over time can be encouraging and hold individuals accountable for their efforts, providing positive reinforcement and motivation to continue working toward their goals. Maybe you haven’t been losing weight as fast as you would like, but seeing that you’re squatting 50 lbs more than you did a few months ago is something worth celebrating, right?
The reality about weight training is that your improvements aren’t going to happen linearly; plateaus and dips are common, but most people that do not track their progress in a journal are unaware of this. Tracking progress can help you identify areas for improvement in your workout routine. When you see your progress has stalled for certain exercises, you can adjust your approach and make changes, such as changing things up with different variations or target repetition ranges.
Have a Workout Buddy
Are you the type of person that struggles to push yourself when you’re working out alone? You shouldn’t feel ashamed if this is you. In this case, you might want to bring someone with you to the gym or hire a personal trainer.
The greatest value of having a workout buddy or a personal trainer is that you have someone else to keep you accountable and provide you some support to push forward. Buddies and personal trainers are great for encouraging individuals to stick to their workout routine even when they may not feel motivated to do so on their own.
You can really benefit from having a workout buddy if you’re a naturally competitive person. A workout buddy can provide friendly competition, pushing individuals to work harder and improve their performance in order to keep up with their partner. However, you need to make sure that the two of you know your limits and don’t try going so hard that one of you ends up getting injured because that could throw a giant wrench into your progress.
There’s no question that if you want to make improvements as you workout, you need to put in that work. However, you also want to make your experience in the gym an enjoyable one, which is what can come from having a workout buddy or personal trainer with you. Having a buddy or a trainer that you get along with can make exercise more enjoyable and social, which can increase motivation to continue working out even if progress is slow, making it a more enjoyable and fun activity overall.
Trust the Process
When you have a well-designed training program, you’re going to make progress. For some, the changes happen rapidly, yet it might take quite a bit longer for others. Being impatient and giving up on working out, overall, is the most guaranteed way for you to NEVER reach your goals.
Focusing on the process of working out and the feeling of accomplishment after a workout can improve mood and sense of well-being. Even on the days where you feel like your body felt weak or you just felt kind of “meh”, you still showed up to the gym, which is more than what most people do. Trusting the process can increase motivation to continue working out consistently.
Mike Dolce, a nutritionist that works with MMA fighters, talks about “the four-hour window”, where a client has to eat completely healthy for 10 straight days, then they will earn their chance to indulge in whatever they want to eat for four hours on the 10th day. The funny thing is that for the first four-hour window, they eat wayyyyy too much and totally regret it, so they don’t try to indulge nearly as much in their following four-hour windows. The key to this approach is that these fighters have as many as 40-70 totally healthy, nutrient-dense meals and snacks that were loaded with fruits and vegetables for 10 days that it didn’t really matter what they eat during the four-hour window.
Give yourself credit and allow yourself to celebrate that you are working out and eating healthy. Focusing on the process of working out and the feeling of accomplishment after a workout can also encourage healthy habits and a positive mindset toward exercise, which can lead to more consistent and sustainable workout habits over time.
Have you been feeling better ever since you started working out? Do you feel more energetic and less lethargic? Have you been enjoying your time at the gym? If you answered yes, then you are winning! Focusing on the process of working out and recognizing the small achievements and progress made along the way can increase self-efficacy, or the belief in one's ability to achieve their goals, which can improve motivation and confidence to continue working out even when results may not be immediately visible.
Although I love being able to make a living as a personal trainer and nutritionist, I have a lot of reservations about the fitness industry that I wish we would change — most notably the before and after pictures to promote weight loss programs. First off, these photos are selectively chosen by those gyms and trainers (they’re not going to show the clients who didn’t lose weight, nor will they tell you about the clients that incurred serious health problems from the weight loss programs), and they push lofty expectations to prospective customers. Better fitness is a journey that is different from person to person, and the most important thing is that you find the physical activity that you love because that’s what is going to help you live your best life.
Coach Julio is an expert in fitness and nutrition, having helped hundreds of busy professionals in their 30s, 40s, and 50s be healthy, as well as offering nutritionist counseling services. He works out of El Paso, Texas, but also offers remote nutritionist counseling and online personal training. Coach Julio’s expertise is backed by over eight years as a personal trainer and a Master’s degree in Nutrition. He brings his experience as a Navy veteran and former collegiate athlete in rowing to help you live your best life.
For information about working with Coach Julio for online personal training and nutritionist services, visit https://www.365physique.com