Building strength, fitness and a killer body takes time, dedication and discipline. Whether your goal is to compete in a figure competition, run a marathon, squat twice your bodyweight, lower high blood pressure or lose 5 kilos you need to adopt key strategies to be successful. Naturally it is easier for some people than others to stick to an exercise and nutrition plan.

I often hear people bemoan the fact they “just don’t have any motivation” to achieve what they set out to do. Key point: motivation is emotional, ie it is all well and good when you are feeling energetic, bouncy and positively Tigger-like but if it is pouring with rain and the Nutella jar is beckoning motivation alone won’t cut it. So, how do you resist opening the lid?

A cunning plan, m’lud!

Here are some suggestions to help keep you on track when sweet treats beckon or the rain outside threatens to ruin your resolve and derail your best intentions.

1. Find your why.

why (Tumisu)The definition of motivation according to Oxford Dictionaries is: “a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way”. Saying “I want to lose weight” will never, ever be enough incentive to drop kilos. It is an arbitrary comment, i.e. not specific enough and there is no driving force that will push you to action. You may well wish to lose weight but until you find a personal reason for doing so you are highly unlikely to actually get any closer to that goal. Maybe it’s a healthscare (I hope not),an upcoming holiday, the ability to run around the park with your kids or the need to be kinder to your joints. Make it specific and real.

2. Be accountable to someone.

note-padTell your friends and family what you wish to achieve and keep the conversation active so they check in with you and support you. Be accountable to yourself by writing down and recording your progress. That way you can celebrate how far you’ve come and, on the days you feel a little lackluster, recognize the process of pushing forwards and keeping going.

3. Prepare.

agenda (geralt)“Fail to prepare and prepare to fail” as the old adage goes. Plan ahead when you are going to fit your exercise in and what you are  going to eat for the day/week and you will automatically remove the stress and minimize the chances of landing on the sofa cuddling the Nutella jar.

4. Pinpoint your weak spots.

obstacle (twinsterphoto)No-one has it all sussed with iron-clad resolve no matter how it may appear. Half the battle is recognizing what your weaknesses are and planning ways to manage them. For many people the biggest nutrition hurdle is when they come home from work ravenous after a busy, stressful day having maybe eaten poorly thus far and they then devour the fridge, pantry and possibly freezer in an attempt to fill the void. Try having a protein rich snack around 3 or 4pm when your hunger hormones naturally kick in and pre-plan dinner. Try to take twice as long to actually eat your meal so that you are not instantly reaching for more food before your brain has had a chance to tell your stomach it is full. If you find your workout is getting shoved to the end of the day when you are tired or keep getting called into last minute meetings, strive to set the alarm an hour earlier and get it done before breakfast. It is a foolproof way to get ahead early in the day setting you up both physically and psychologically.

5. Be consistent.

target (Deedster)Elite athletes may be genetically gifted but talent will only get them so far. Daily practice aiming for your target, while knowing that you won’t always hit the bullseye, will guarantee steady improvement and move you forwards. Some days you’ll feel tired, leaden and distinctly unmotivated so factor in your movement and nutrition for the day making these items non-negotiable knowing that you are creating good habits to replace the ones where you give up, watch mindless TV and create a Nutella moustache.

What tried and tested ways do you have to keep you motivated?

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Photo credits: Geralt, Twisterphoto, Deedster, Tumisu

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