Staying motivated to exercise can be a challenge. Especially at the beginning of your fitness journey when everything seems like a battle. The solution? Inspiration. What would it take to spur you on? It's different for each person. For some people, it's the thrill of setting goals. For others, it's about the reward or a big breakthrough they'll get when the exercise is done.
We posed the same question to our models: How do you stay motivated to exercise? Now all our models enjoy all kinds of exercises and all live varied lifestyles across the UK. So, we thought it would be nice to share their mindful thoughts and motivation methods with you. Maybe they'll inspire you. You might even use them to keep you going when you exercise.
Five Ways to Stay Motivated When You Exercise
- Have a structure or plan in place.
- Find an exercise you enjoy doing.
- Have a competition with yourself.
- Celebrate all of your littlest wins.
- Set your own goals & expectations.
Have a structure or plan in place (Dina Thain - Size 10 Model)
"I'm a creature of habit. If you're routine driven, like me, having something rigid in place is important. I think the main motivation for is knowing, 'Okay, this is something I'm looking forward to' or 'This is my schedule, I'm going to stick to it'. It's about having a plan of action. If someone was like, 'Let's go out for a run and we'll see what happens,' that wouldn't work for me. You need to set realistic goals for yourself and achieve them only at your own pace."
Why a plan of action is a great starting point.
Much like when you planned your assignments at school, a plan for your fitness journey can be useful. At the beginning, you can create an exercise calendar with all your daily exercises. Maybe you'll go for a jog on Monday, do Yoga on Tuesday, rest Wednesday, and do weights on Thursday. You can set the time you spend on activities or how hard you work or push it.
You can even set mini-challenges and have rewards for when you overcome hurdles or beat your records. A plan encourages you to do what's best for you, too, and it's on your terms. If exercise is too hard, bring it down a peg. If it's easy, take it up a notch. Explore your options and exercise that work for you. Track your progress and write things down. When you write out your plan of action, nine times out of ten, your goals become a lot more manageable.
Make your own plan today! Creating a plan is as easy as jotting down your steps to success. With a quality plan in place, just don't forget to deck yourself in the right fitness gear, too.
Three Key Benefits to Planning Your Fitness Exercises
- Gives how you exercise a whole new meaning.
- You'll see how you have improved over time.
- It prevents you from over and undertraining.
Find an exercise you enjoy (Amy Golby - Size 16 Model)
"When you find something you enjoy, it becomes a natural part of your lifestyle. So, find an exercise you enjoy and do it. For me, deadlifts are my favourite exercise. I used to do squats but deadlifts make me feel immense. Pick what your like. If you hate doing lunges, don't do lunges. If you like doing squats, do squats. Start with things you like; that's your motivation."
Why choosing an exercise that you enjoy is vital
There's no secret behind it. When you do activities you're not very interested in, you're not as engaged as you could be. When was the last time you procrastinated, made an excuse, or just plain gave up when you found an exercise boring? You start strong, and end pretty fast.
You're not alone... Did you know that roughly 40% of people give up their fitness resolutions within the first month? Many sources cite money, self-belief, and time... but a major factor no one mentions is enjoyment. When you enjoy something, you look forward to it. It spurs you to take action. For example, you'll ensure your home to watch your favourite TV show.
So, what exercises do you enjoy? Take time to test your waters. You may find that you're a fan of cycling, swimming, or pilates. The sky is the limit. And once you've found a couple of exercises that rock your world, you'll start rocking your workouts with a smile on your face.
Three Key Reasons to Find Exercises You Enjoy
You'll look forward to your next exercise session.
Training is easier because it's no longer a chore.
You'll enjoy the pros of a healthier, happier life.
Have a competition with yourself (Briony Harmes - Size 16 Model)
"I'm a competitive person by nature. I want to be the best version of myself, for me. That's what inspired me to improve my health and fitness. I've been training in kickboxing for 18 months with the goal of getting a black belt. I'm there 6 nights a week challenging myself with the goal in mind. I'm not competing for anyone else. It's about winning against myself."
Why you should be competing with yourself
Picture this: Sarah has just started her fitness journey. She begins by going to the gym and quickly realises Jenny, a regular, is stronger and faster than she is. Sarah develops an internal rivalry and uses Jenny as a measure for her own success. However, Sarah can't keep up and it starts to affect her self-worth. She questions her ability, becomes resentful of Jenny, and ends up quitting. By comparing herself to others, Sarah put unnecessary pressure on herself.
Not a happy scenario, but one that happens often. Don't get us wrong, healthy competition is good. It makes you determined, builds your character, and gives you a sense of humility. However, if competing defines your self-worth, then it's bad. It's inevitable that someone will be better than you at something. That's why self-competition is what matters the most.
When you compete against yourself, you create your own goals, set your own targets, and define your own success. The healthy kind. You only want what's best for you and you don't let someone else's standards dictate your exercises. Also, by dismissing the judgement of others, you find out what you're capable of and gain a sense of what winning means to you.
Three Key Reasons to Compete Against Yourself
You define your own success on your own terms.
You avoid petty rivalry or unnecessary pressures.
You exercise for your own reasons, no one else’s.
Celebrate all of your littlest wins (Cindy Zapata - Size 14 Model)
"Best motivation I can offer? Take the small wins where you can get them. Make to do lists of varying difficulties to help rack up wins. The list will have essential exercises and nice to dos on it. The essentials need to be done, but the nice to dos are just that... they're nice. A list keeps things manageable and you accountable. Ticking off small wins on your journey, you'll be like, 'Yay, I accomplished something today'. Celebrate them when they come along."
Why you should celebrate the small wins
The power of small wins is monumental to your success. Take your own fitness progress for example. Which sounds better? Celebrating once your goal has been achieved, or celebrating the mini victories along the way? There's evidence proving the latter will keep you more motivated.
In the June 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Teresa Amabile explores this notion of using power of progress to your advantage to stay engaged. Showing how people often had good days when steps forward were achieved, and bad days when they had setbacks. It seems the little wins, in life, fitness, or work are what we should focus on to stay motivated.
For example, let’s say your goal is to run the London Marathon. Of course, once you pass the finish line, you'll feel like a million dollars. But consider the steps you'll take on your journey. The times you trained. The barriers you overcame. The strict diet you'll endure. Aren't these milestones worth celebrating, too? Why wait to feel good after you accomplish your goal when you can feel good after, say, a successful run, a record time, or hitting weekly targets.
How to celebrate? You may reward yourself with a small gift, your favourite snack, or share your journey with a friend. Of course, write down all your victories to show your progress, see how far you've come, for good vibes, memories, and great motivation for larger goals.
Three Reasons to Celebrate Small Wins
- Happiness: Find enjoyment in the hard work you've put in.
- Motivation: Stay engaged knowing you're making progress.
- Perspective: You'll learn about yourself & build confidence.
Set your own goals & expectations (Emily Slater - Size 14 Model)
"Learn what you want and set your own goals and expectations to get it. I wanted to lead a healthy lifestyle and do things I find fun, like walking in Wales during sunsets. I wanted to do it without huffing and puffing, so I got fit. Better yet, I do it for me and not anyone else."
Why you should set your own goals and expectations
Let's face it, when you try to live up to other people's expectations, it never works out well. It always feels like you're reaching. Even when you've tried your best, you could do better.
You see these types of expectations on social media every day. So-called experts telling you how to train, how to exercise, how to look and feel. If you try to match them all, you'd have a breakdown. Granted, a lil guidance goes a long way, but if you sorely rely on the guidance of others over your own judgement, you set yourself up to fail. Not great motivation, eh?
That's why you should focus on setting your own goals. When you do, you'll gain direction, focus, perspective. You'll learn about who you are and what you want. You'll start to rely on the purpose you create for yourself over whatever someone else has created. You become independent rather than a follower. Better yet, you can plan how you want to achieve your goals by setting realistic expectations. These expectations will motivate how you exercise.
A great model for goal setting is the acronym SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Think of each point as a question. When applied to your fitness, it'll enable you to map out your entire journey in small steps. Remember, you need to give your body and mind time to grow and adapt to exercise.
A SMART fitness example:
- Specific: Hit 10,000 steps a day
- Measurable: Sync with phone app. Track on a daily basis.
- Attainable: 2,000 steps a day in first week. Increasing by 2,000 each week.
- Relevant: Balanced health, mindset and better motivation.
- Timely: Do this in five weeks.
Three Reasons For Setting Fitness Goals
Gives you more direction, focus, and purpose
Gives you perspective to think about what you want
Gives you a greater sense of personal achievement