If there is one thing that disrupts training the most, motivation must be up there.
When we lose motivation, exercise becomes incredibly difficult, resulting in long periods away from exercise.
If we want results, such as increased fitness levels, improved body composition or improved race times, then consistent exercise is essential.
Furthermore, returning to exercise after periods of inactivity has a higher than normal risk factor for injury due to the eagerness to succeed. We want to prove to ourselves that we can commit and triumph. Frequency and intensity of exercise is therefore normally high and when we go from doing nothing to this, injuries can occur.
Seasonal change can be difficult to deal with. If we can maintain our motivation through this part of the year, we can continue to reap the benefits from exercise such as improved physical and mental health, reduced chronic illnesses and improved energy levels.
So how can we keep motivation strong during these darker nights, colder mornings and wet weather?
Build social habits that supplement our training
Aim to be great in 10, 20 and 30 years’ time.
We need to plan for the long term and build habits. I find 8-week personal training programmes difficult to accept. It reinforces a short-term mindset for exercise when in fact, we should be thinking the complete opposite. You will never complete fitness and it should be something you should do as you age.
Sleep is king
To give ourselves the best chance of succeeding, we must build our social habits around our training. Getting 8-9 hours of sleep each night improves our recovery and helps keep our energy levels high. Without this, you are facing an uphill battle of exercising when tired. A recipe for failure. Personally, I always work out my wake-up time and plan when I need to be asleep by. I plan for 30 minutes of reading time which always helps me settle down. It might mean that you cut off the TV at 8pm or reduce the time you spend exposed to blue light, but recovery is king, and nothing helps your recovery more so than sleep.
Food is fuel
Fuelling your training correctly is another huge factor in positively supplementing your training. I am the worst trainer when I’m hungry and lacking energy. I find shortcuts and battle very hard to even train that day. When I plan and eat well, it’s a completely different story and exercise is fun.
Secondly, if we build a lifestyle around consistently eating poorly, our goals for better body composition will never be met and therefore this will negatively affect our motivation. Results speak for themselves and you cannot out train a bad diet. I’ve always found that if I consume enough protein, eat plenty of vegetables and consume quality carbohydrates 90% of the time, my body composition is rarely negatively affected. Cook from scratch and eat a balanced diet.
When you go out to dinner, make smarter decisions to help you towards eating well 80-90% of the time. Look for dishes that are not processed and have a good amount of protein, plenty of veg and good carbohydrates.
Alternatively, if you struggle with this method, my clients get success by using apps such as my fitness pal or the RP fitness app (https://www.rpdiet.app/) as it helps them to measure what they eat and keep them accountable.
Creating a routine and building habits around any of the above will help you. My morning routine is never less than 90 minutes. It consists of waking up, drinking a pint of water with a squeezed lemon and large pinch of Himalayan pink salt. This is shortly followed by blueberry pancakes, a spinach, ginger and kiwi smoothie and coffee. It’s a routine that I love and helps fuel my training for the morning.
Embrace technology robots
Apple watch, Fitbit and Whoop devices are just two examples of technology robots that capture our physical data in real time. Optimising the way you recover, train and sleep with daily reporting allows you to understand how hard to work, how much sleep you need and how you can align it with your circadian rhythm. If you love data, then this is a great way to stay accountable and is something that I personally use.
Furthermore, my clients have had great success in reducing their stress levels to help with their recovery and increase their activity levels as a result of seeing their results. Using these devices is another fantastic way of quantifying your exercise and staying motivated.
Enjoy your training
If you don’t enjoy your chosen exercise, then motivation will always be hard to come by. Exercise doesn’t have to be traditional gym work. Dancing, hiking, roller skating and rocking climbing are just a few alternative ways to get the heart rate up. Enjoy your exercise and motivation comes easy.
Find what works for you
Do you enjoy exercising on your own? Do you prefer exercising in a group?
We live individual lives and finding what works for you is essential. We have a very high attendance rate at my gym (www.liftoffgym.com) because our members enjoy the group class and coaching structure. Would they succeed as much if they had to train on their own and be responsible for what they train? Perhaps not. But it’s what works for them.
I also programme for some of my clients who receive their workouts for the week via an app. They enjoy training on their own and at their own convenience. They also benefit from being told what to train, how many reps and how long to rest.
Help to stay motivated this winter by taking on some of the advice above. Motivation isn’t just about puffing your cheeks and getting on with training. It’s about building long term foundations that help you succeed.