Of course not! If all that was needed was a workout plan and the right diet, everyone would be walking around looking fit and trim, but that's simply not how it is. There is a third component to success at the gym - personal motivation.
What separates a person who is successful at the gym from someone who isn't usually comes down to motivation. If you want to see results, you have to be motivated to fight for them. That doesn't just mean being motivated to go to the gym and to follow your diet. It also means working out as hard as possible, not just phoning it in or dialing back when it gets difficult.
Unfortunately, our brains often become fatigued long before our bodies. Motivation is almost always responsible when we fail to follow through with our fitness goals. The good news is that there are ways to stay motivated and on track.
Here are five secrets shared by highly successful fitness enthusiasts that anyone can use to get on the path to workout success:
Set Realistic, Tangible Goals.
The best way to stay motivated is to constantly be working toward something tangible. Just saying, "I want to get stronger" isn't a clear enough picture of what you want to achieve for you to be able to celebrate success and stay driven along the way.
Instead, set a long-term goal for yourself and then break it into smaller goals. For example, instead of just "get stronger," you can say "I want to ultimately be able to bench press 315 pounds." Then, you can set a short term goal like, "I want to be able to bench press 280 pounds within the next 6 weeks." Once you reach that goal, you'll feel a sense of accomplishment. Then, you're ready to set a new one and keep progressing forward.
If you're completely new to exercise, consult a trainer for assistance with goal setting to ensure that you're placing realistic expectations on yourself.
Revisit Your Goals Regularly
Make time at least once per week to think about how you're progressing to your goals. In the above example, if you're 2 weeks in and haven't been able to increase the amount of your bench presses at all, you may need to reevaluate what you're doing. Do you need to work out more? Change your diet? What can you do to put yourself on the path for success? Also spend time thinking about why you want to accomplish your goal. What will improve when you're able to lift more or when you lose weight? How will it change your life? Staying focused on the benefits of achieving will help keep you engaged and motivated.
Recognize When It's Time for a Change
If you're revisiting your goals regularly, you'll be able to see when you've reached a point where you're just not progressing, or where you're struggling to stay motivated. In those situations, take the time to carefully evaluate what's wrong. Are you forcing yourself to do workouts that you're always going to hate or are you continuing to go to a gym where you don't feel welcome and relaxed? When the problem is what you're doing or where you're doing it, don't be afraid to change things up. Find a new gym. Experiment with a new workout. Discover what works for you. You'll be better motivated when you're working out in a way that you enjoy in a place that you look forward to going to.
Look at the Big Picture
Let's face it - it can be hard to do things for ourselves. It's much easier to fall into the trap of thinking that you could be doing more work at the office or getting more done around the house and start seeing time at the gym as "wasted." Don't fall into that mental trap, though! Reset your perspective by focusing on the big picture and how working out has a positive impact on your life. For example, regular exercise can improve your mental focus, so you're able to work harder and be more creative when you're at the office. It can also give you more energy, so that you're better able to go home and cross the items off of your to-do list productively. When you focus on the overall benefits of exercise, you'll find that your level of motivation soars.
Take Full Ownership
This is the hardest and most important one! If you want to be motivated to achieve your workout goals, you have to understand that ultimately it's up to you whether or not you succeed.
When you're fatigued, bored or stressed, your mind will begin to play games with you. You'll tell yourself a million excuses for why you can or should skip a workout or why it's okay if you don't finish your full workout. These excuses will often place blame elsewhere. Your boss stressed you out, so you deserve a break. With all those activities your kids have, you're just too tired to go to the gym. Be ready for these tricks that your mind plays--and put a stop to them fast.
Don't shift the blame for skipping your workout on anything or anyone else. You're the one who decides what you do and don't do on any given day.
That's not meant to make you feel guilty; it's meant to empower you. Whether or not you succeed is entirely in your hands. You just have to put your mind to it and follow through.
Now that you know the secrets to staying motivated for success, you're ready to get on the path to accomplishing your fitness goals.