When we first start going to the gym, there’s a period of initial enthusiasm that we all go through, and this makes starting a workout routine much easier; you’re fired up before and after every workout and you’re really liking the idea of getting the body you’ve always dreamed of, becoming stronger and improving your overall health.
However, this initial drive can fade rather quickly, and just a few weeks later it can start to get a whole lot more challenging, and sometimes even a bit dull. This is the point at which most people quit, and this is exactly why you have to do the opposite – stay in there and find the additional enthusiasm you need to push through that difficult point, so you can keep making progress.
This is easier said than done, however, and sometimes it requires a very specific psychological approach to be able to do it. To help you out with that, today I have a few tricks that you can use to keep you in the gym over long periods of time, because a long period of time is what you will need to get real results.
1. Reward Yourself
Being consistent in your workouts and pushing your body every day is not an easy thing to do, which is why you have to learn to appreciate the small successes that you will make every day. If you’re able to bench 20 lbs more than a few weeks ago, that’s a valid reason to celebrate.
And by celebrate, I mean partake in any activities that you find pleasurable as a genuine reward to yourself, like going to your favorite restaurant, for example. Of course, you’ll still want to lay off the junk food, but there are plenty of healthy takeout solutions that you can also take advantage of (check out this healthy meal delivery comparison, for example). This is an easy way to give yourself a keen sense of accomplishment that will keep sending you back to the gym until you achieve your ultimate goal, so make sure that you incorporate it into your routine.
2. Bring a Buddy
Staying motivated in the gym is much easier if you’re not in there completely alone. If you consider starting with a friend, at the same time you’ll have someone to make things less awkward for you, and some nice friendly competition that can make both of you more efficient at your workouts.
3. Keep Track of Progress
As I already mentioned, to keep yourself motivated over longer periods of time it’s very important to set small goals for yourself that you can accomplish, but just setting them isn’t going to do you much good – you have to also keep track of them.
Luckily, these days it’s more than easy to do this as there is a myriad of fantastic fitness apps that can basically do this for you. I personally use MyFitnessPal, but there are a lot of great ones out there that you can choose from. By keeping track of your progress, you’re going to get the feeling that you’re actually getting somewhere, and no matter how slow that might seem, just projecting it onto a longer time period (like a few months, or a year) can be enough to give you that psychological boost you need to keep yourself motivated.
4. Listen to Music
I literally couldn’t imagine any of my exercise sessions without some good workout music to keep me going. Music is a natural serotonin booster, which can make you more active, take your mind off the pain and get a more serious workout in. Definitely something to consider if you don’t already have a habit of bringing your earbuds to the gym.
5. Take Some Time Off
There comes a certain time in every athlete’s life when they feel like they’re reaching a plateau, and this can be really frustrating at times, to the point that it can make you quit if you push yourself too hard to surpass your limits. Ironically, one of the best ways to deal with this kind of situation is to simply take a short break from working out. Just spend a week or two doing something totally different, don’t even think about working out.
Exercise is as much a mental thing as it is physical, and giving both your body and your brain a short breather from it all can be very beneficial in the long run and can help your recover some of your enthusiasm.
About the author: Vanessa Davis is a 32-year- old fitness enthusiast, mother of two and content writer at www.diet.st. She’s originally from Long Island, New York, and when she isn’t cooking up some new health and fitness article, she enjoys doing yoga and figuring out new, delicious organic-based recipes for herself and her kids.