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Blog posts tagged with 'motivation'

Tips to keep your fitness goals on track all year!

 

Photo courtesy of Patrick Hendry

 

Be honest: How many times has this happened to you? You start the new year off by enthusiastically declaring a fitness resolution. For the first few weeks or months, you’re going strong and getting excited about all the goals you will reach by the end of the year.

 

After a while, however, you start to lose motivation. Perhaps you miss a workout or give into the temptation of a “cheat meal” when you should be dieting. Eventually, you’ve fallen so far off the fitness bandwagon that you just give up on your New Year’s resolution altogether.

 

We’ve all been guilty of losing motivation when it comes to our annual fitness goals. In fact, it’s so common that an estimated 80 percent of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions after just one month.

 

Luckily for you, there are ways that you can become the exception to that rule rather than just another statistic. Contrary to what you might believe, there are many ways to keep your fitness-related New Year’s resolutions throughout the year. You just have to find what works best for you.

 

Don’t Give Up.

Falling off the bandwagon or enjoying a “cheat” meal doesn’t mean you have to give up on your goal. Just remind yourself of the reasons why you became dedicated to this goal in the first place - then jump back on the bandwagon and get back on track!

 

Have a workout buddy.

This could be a coworker, a close friend, a relative, or even your spouse. If you feel your motivation slipping, you’ll have someone to hold you accountable for your daily workout. You could schedule times to meet in-person (or via Skype, if you live far away from each other) to work out together. You might meet up each week to try a different group class at your favorite local gym, from yoga to kickboxing.

 

If you are more competitive, you could even turn it into a friendly competition. Whoever loses the most weight at the end of the month enjoys a free meal courtesy of the other person. There are endless options when it comes to working out with friends.

 

Hire a fitness trainer or coach

If you’ve ever wondered whether hiring a personal trainer or health coach might be worth the money, science tells us it is. Research indicates that professional health coaches are able to boost their clients’ success rates and help them maintain their fitness and weight-loss goals.

 

If you’re struggling to stay motivated, there’s no reason to go it alone. Why not get a coach or trainer?

 

Workout with Fido

Bringing your pet into your workout routine can be another great way to stay motivated. There are many benefits to working out with your favorite four-legged friend. Dogs the most upbeat and energetic workout partners, requiring a certain amount of physical activity each day.

 

Perhaps this is why researchers found that Michigan dog owners are 34 percent more likely to get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week versus those who didn’t own a dog. Additionally, dog owners tend to outlive cat owners, possibly because all that dog walking is good for your heart.

 

Some creative ways to work out with your pet might include going for a walk, jog or run at a dog-friendly park, dog yoga; dog-friendly Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) or outdoor sports such as trail running and hiking.

 

Remember: You Can Do It!

We set fitness resolutions because we’re excited about them, dedicated to them or because we know we need them. If you’ve resolved to become fit and healthy, you undoubtedly want to succeed in achieving your goal. Good luck!

Winter Approaches for Training

   

     We're quickly approaching winter and many of you are either about to finish off your triathlon seasons or are already finished. Some of you may not have a problem with staying motivated and on track during the winter because you have other sports or activities. Many other athletes struggle their way through the cold months just waiting for the spring. I want to share with you some ideas from my experience to help you to keep your motivation up this winter.

     The first item to discuss is what I think is the number one issue people have with the winter: mindset. I hate the term "off-season". It brings with it connotations of inactivity. I do take downtime for a couple weeks after my last triathlon of the year. For me, that's my "off-season", I do pretty much nothing, eat and drink what I want, and really let loose. I need that time mentally. But after those couple weeks, in my head, off-season is over and now it's preparation for next season. It's a mindset that everyday I have a purpose which is to work on whatever I can to come back better the next year. 

     I've had the privilege to live in a few great places. I grew up and spent the first 22 years of my life in Michigan so I experienced the long drawn out cold and damp winters. I lived 13 years in Austin, Texas so I trained through very mild winters. Finally the last several years, I've lived in Boulder, Colorado so I've experienced some tougher but trainable winters here with a mix of snow, cold, and sunny trainable days.

    You need to learn to focus on what you can do, not what you can't do because of the winter weather. If the weather is nice enough to get outside and ride your bike, then get out and ride your bike! Simple! If it's too cold or snowing, then just get on the trainer and learn to embrace the bike trainer. Focus on your mindset and attitude. When I've thought about the trainer as a tool to get better, it's been mentally easier than if I sit there dreading it and thinking about not liking the trainer. Any time I hear an athlete talking about how much they hate the trainer, I just don't engage in the conversation. Too bad for them, I'm going to embrace it so that I can come out of the winter fit and strong! 

    I will also work in some different activities to keep training interesting. I did a little mountain biking last winter here in Boulder. I didn't do a ton because I didn't want to risk an injury from a bike wreck. I did enjoy it and used it as a way to work on my bike handling skills. One day we had over a foot of snow, so my friend and I biked in the fresh snow on dirt roads. We were sliding all around and fishtailing everywhere. I really became comfortable controlling the bike in a skid. Experiences like this really helped my road bike handling skills this year. I was much more comfortable holding more speed through turns and trusted my ability to control the bike. 

    I've also become a fan of Nordic skiing here in Boulder. I grew up as an ice hockey player so I've found particularly that skate skiing is a great activity. The motion and cardio load is very complimentary to cycling. My old coach was a huge believer in skate skiing. He was Danish and took all of his European pro triathletes on skate skiing camps in the Italian Alps every year to start their fitness build for the year. The motion can be a challenge to learn, but it's a fun activity and can help you build cardio fitness as well as upper and lower body strength.

     I've found it fun to sometimes do a training block focused on a single sport. I tend not to do a huge running block. I like to keep my running steady. I've seen friends try a huge running block in the winter only to get injured from the increased volume and intensity from running. I have done a huge swimming block before and found it helpful. One winter, I took my downtime in November and then did a 4 week swim block before Christmas. Week 1 I swam 30,000 yards, week 2 was 38,000 yards, week 3 was 45,000 yards, and in the final week I made it to 50,000 yards. It was very hard, but I found my swimming on a whole different level that next year. I was doing double swims many days. But it was a way I could try something new and improved myself for the next year.

     As you move into this winter, try first focusing on your mindset. Then try to incorporate some new activities or emphasis in your training to compliment your normal exercise. Remember that this isn't the off season, it's the time for you to prepare yourself for next season!

Train hard!

Patrick

What to do When You Don't Want to:

If you’re reading this blog, there is a good chance you’re an athlete. You don’t have to be a professional, nor do you even need to be “fast”. But if you enjoy the challenge of exercise, you set goals and you work to achieve them, you’re an athlete. We all know how good exercise is for us. It keeps us healthy, works as a stress reliever, and often times keeps us on task; it holds us accountable. While I’ve been a lifelong (fairly serious) athlete, I can also acknowledge that the day ‘exercise’ is no longer part of my job, I’ll still be doing regardless. I just enjoy movement, and I get cranky when I don’t do it. All this aside, there are most definitely days when we just don’t FEEL LIKE IT. The thought of dragging yourself to the pool or lacing up your running shoes just sounds awful. You are not alone...this happens to us all at times. Especially those of you who may be training hard for a big goal event late in the season. November is a long time after January... so if you've been at it for many months, or you just find you're struggling to "go", here are a few tips that may help get you over that little 'hump' of finding the motivation to exercise.

1)      Take a day off. Yes, my first suggestion is to simply listen to your inner instinct and chill out. Often times it is just what your body and your mind need. If you find the motivation is lacking and you have other things you need to get done, scrap it…tomorrow will be here before you know it, and I’m willing to bet you’ll be a bit more anxious to exercise the next day. Now I’ve never (EVER) been one for ‘streaks’ (ie: getting caught up in things such as “100 days straight of running!”) or obsessing about overall numbers for the week, month, or year. If you’re one of these people, this one will be tough for you. But I highly encourage you to be able to step away and take rest days; not only for your own sanity (and relationships) but moreso for your longevity of exercise. And the key here? Don't feel guilty about it! Embrace it and enjoy the rest day. 

 

2)      Adjust what is on the schedule. If you see a workout that makes you feel overwhelmed just looking at it, and you understand why this may be (fatigue, life stress, etc) make it a goal to get out and move but don’t force the specific workout. Clearly if you have goals, you don’t want to do this all the time! However, I’ve coached athletes for 10+ years and one of the best things about a 'seasoned athlete' is that they can often take the initiative to adjust as and when needed. Not everything has to be ‘cleared’ by someone…sometimes it’s best to just be cleared by you, because nobody knows you as well as well… you. I often say ‘something is better than nothing’ (barring #1) and if you can get out, exercise, and feel better for it, you just may need to keep your workout easy and with no goal other than to clear the mind and refresh the body. Some days you just have to do what will make you feel good.

3)      Rally a friend. This is especially important when you know what is coming up for the week, month, etc. Workouts often go by much quicker when you have good company! And while sure it’s great to have solitude when we workout, sometimes it's fun to make exercise social too. I’ve learned over the years that some people click better than others when it comes to training partners. This doesn’t make some people bad people; but I’ve become a little picky when it comes to training with others. You want someone who you can pace well with, or on some days, someone who is stronger (or less strong) than you…depending upon what you’re aiming to do on the day. Be honest with one another. And be sure to check your ego at the start. Nobody enjoys getting half-wheeled or half-stepped for hours on end! It's not a race, just an exercise session. :) Try to find positive training partners, and likewise try to be a positive training partner for others.

4)      Dig in and try. Yes, again contrary to #2… if you’re struggling to motivate on a day you have a challenging workout, ask yourself "why". If you’re truly wiped out that is one thing, but I know personally I’ll have days I can’t wait to get to it and others I’m dreading it. If I'm honest with myself, I may dread it for fear of not hitting the goal. And this is a terrible reason! I have to call myself out.  We can’t succeed without taking risk and when we take risk, we may fail; but we may also pass with flying colors. There have also been *many* times I’ll warmup, think that it may not be there, then bam.. I get into the set and I’m nailing it. So, some days, you just have to kick yourself in the butt a little bit, get moving, and give it a shot. We never know until we try.

5)      Step back and see the larger picture. By this I mean, have you had a trend of lacking motivation? Has this become a more regular than occasional feeling? If so, you may just need a good old extended break. Time away from the ‘discipline’ you’re focusing on. I know Ironman specifically can really wear people down. This is fine…as with anything else in life, be honest with yourself when you assess this. All exercise is essentially ‘good’ for us….so maybe you just need a change of pace for a little while. There are so many forms of exercise we can choose from! I’ve found joy in long walks when that is what I’ve been resigned to given circumstances! Realize that everyone needs to hit ‘reset’ at times. But you just may be the one who needs to make this decision for yourself.  

And in the much larger picture...we're all fortunate to be able to do it. I remind myself of this regularly. When I don't want to "go" on some days, I think of how amazing it is that my body allows me to do this. I think of times I've had setbacks, and I've wanted so badly to go out and run hard! I find myself drawing motivation from those whom I know, if given the opportunity, would love to be training for events; but perhaps they can't for various reasons. This is a gift, and we NEVER 'have' to do it, we get to do it. 

Kelly H. Williamson

Twitter: @khwilliamson

Instagram: kmhwilliamson