By Belina Sithole
Its Monday and I’m waking up to the buzzing sound of my 7:00 am alarm. I roll over to switch it off and the sun rays shining through my curtains make me quickly pull the duvet over my head! I stay curled up in bed for a few minutes. “I really should get some blackout curtains” I say to myself. Anyway, it’s a lovely sunny morning which is rare in Manchester, so this motivates me to go for a run before I start work.
Regardless of the type of exercise you’re into, I think we can all agree that motivation, or lack thereof, is one of the biggest barriers to our fitness goals.
Of course, there are days when getting out of bed to work out is the last thing I want to do. Do you ever watch a YouTube home exercise video thinking I can do this, but instead of following along, you are just lying in bed or sitting on the sofa? Yes, I know…me too! There are a lot of articles and videos out there telling us how to work out and the importance of exercising, but we still struggle to maintain it or even start! As Apostle Paul wrote in the book of Romans 7:15 – “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do“. Sometimes skipping a workout feels worse than just doing the 5km run or going for the gym class, the guilt is real.
To help us stay active and get over our individual fitness barriers, I thought I would focus and share from my own experiences on what not to do in order to maintain your workout routines. I’ll also share a few tips on how to stay motivated. Hopefully you’ll find one that you can adapt to suit you…so Leggo!
Don’t Set Unrealistic Goals
‘Start with the end goal in mind’ is probably a phrase you might have heard; This helps to maintain the motivation you need to achieve your goals. However, when you’re setting your goals don’t set goals you know are too difficult to achieve based on your current level. I used to struggle to drink at least 2 glasses of water in a day, so for me to say I’m going to drink 2 litres of water was just setting myself up for failure every day.
Set SMART goals instead – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely goals. Looking at my water situation above, I bought myself a time marked 500 ml water bottle and my goal in the first week was to have at least 2 bottles (1 litre).
If you struggle to stick to a workout routine,
- Set yourself a weekly routine that you’ll enjoy – switch it up if you’re not enjoying it, it’s not set in stone!
- Time yourself, work out for a specific time and try to stick to the set time for the first few days even if you feel like you can keep going. We will look at overdoing it in the next section
- If you miss your workout, hold yourself accountable, how do you plan on making it up for the missed session?
- Reward yourself when you stick to it!
SMART goals help you to focus your effort and increase your chances of achieving your goal.
Don’t Push Yourself Too Much
I learned this lesson the hard way, stop overdoing it! It’s good to challenge yourself because you’ll benefit from it, Romans 8:18 – “For I consider that our present suffering are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us“. I use this verse for perseverance.
It’s lockdown, I’m working from home, a notification pops up on my phone inviting me to join a running challenge…this was the beginning of an ongoing monthly challenge with a group of friends. I planned out how many km I’ll do each week in order to complete the challenge. A few days in, some people in the challenge had already covered what I planned to cover in a week. This is when I started doing 20km, 15km in a day to keep up with the competition. My knees paid the price and I’m still recovering.
- Be disciplined with your workouts, don’t let competition or the feeling of guilt push you to do more than you can handle – know your limits
- Plan in rest days and take the time you need to rest
- If you’re injured, ease back into it and keep it simple until you recover, exercising through injuries will only make it worse
Don’t Struggle Alone
‘I work better alone’, ‘everyone else is busy’, ‘it’s difficult to find a time that works for everyone’ – I understand that coordinating workouts can be a pain but having someone or a group of people to exercise with will keep you motivated when you’re struggling to be keep up.
Some of the activities I like doing to stay active are not everyone’s preference such as hiking, but because I enjoy it, I’m self-motivated to go out alone. However, when it comes to full body workout, I need all the support from others I can get so I go to gym classes or join online sessions with friends.
- Get the people around you to help you achieve your fitness goals, it is easier when you have someone holding you accountable
- Try inclusive fun activities that are suitable for your family and friends. When you’re enjoying it, it becomes less of an obligation and time well spent with your loved ones
- ‘Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing’ – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
I would like to challenge you to think of one thing that you’ll change right now to help you stay active!
Belina is actively involved in a community of young women living and pursing their authentic lives according to God’s word. She holds a BSc and an MScR in Bioorganic Chemistry. She enjoys a wide range of fitness activities including tennis, running, cycling, hiking, Zumba, and Thai kickboxing.