Let me ask you a question: why do you workout?
Are you trying to lose weight? Get healthy? Look better? Feel better?
How about your end goal? Do you want to see a particular number on the scale or on a clothing label? Do you want your blood work results to show healthier levels after your next physical? Is there a particular fitness goal you want to achieve, like being able to lift a certain amount of weight or run for an extended period of time?
The first step to reaching our goals is finding motivation… but it has to be the right motivation! Having the right perspective on exercise is so important, and there are so many positive and negative influences around us that can really change how we view fitness.
Have you been looking for motivation in the right places? Here are some of the major dos and don’ts to consider while looking for the right motivation to meet your goals:
DON’T Look At Unrealistic Images: It makes me absolutely furious whenever I scroll through Pinterest and see pictures of overly skinny and ultra photoshopped models with the caption “workout motivation” on my feed. Sorry to break it to you, but it’s impossible for any of us to look like these pictures. Are you ready for another truth bomb? The models in these images that we all glorify don’t even look like that! How sad is it that we use these impossible images to set unrealistic (and unhealthy!) expectations for ourselves? There are only two outcomes if the pictures of these women with flat stomachs and twig-thin legs are our motivation: 1. We workout for a short period of time and become discouraged when we don’t see our bodies magically transform into this unrealistic shape, or 2. We workout so hard that we find ourselves extremely unhealthy, both physically and mentally.
DO Know What Your Body Is Capable Of: What was the weight that you felt the best at? Don’t just consider appearance, but think about how you actually felt at this number. Did you have more energy? Better focus? A balanced appetite? As you begin working out, take note of all that your body is feeling. How many minutes of exercise make you feel good? How much causes you to be sore the next day? What activities leave you feeling more energized? Are there any workouts that drain you instead of increasing your energy? Look to these indicators for motivation instead of plastering images of unrealistic goals all over your wall.
DON’T Be Fooled By Mannequins: I was in Target the other day in the fitness apparel section when I noticed the mannequins they had on display. These mannequins were so skinny that I think they better represented a skeleton rather than a figure who had muscle and flesh. If that’s what you expect to look like when you put on Target athletic leggings, you are just setting yourself up for extreme disappointment. Sorry, but it’s true.
DO Know That Everyone’s Body Looks And Works Differently: If you really take time to think about it, each of us has a body that works in such an incredible way! It truly amazes me when I start thinking about how every breath I take fuels every cell in my body. There is so much complexity to every move we make, yet many of us still walk, talk, and laugh with such ease! Your body is amazing, and it’s different from all of the other ones you see walking around. Don’t compare your body shape or fitness level to the girl’s on the next mat over at Pilates class. Your body is different than theirs, but it’s just as incredible! Find motivation in wanting to fuel this amazing body of yours and push it to function the best it can!
DON’T Believe Everything You See On Social Media: Ahh, Don’t even get me started with social media! Many of the fitness “influencers” on platforms like Instagram spend hours taking the perfect picture at the perfect time from the perfect angle to look the way they do… not to mention many of them alter these pictures even more before they upload them!
DO Find Positive Real-Life Influences: Even though so many people on Instagram only show their “perfect social media” self, there are plenty of girls who tell it like it is! Find body-positive influencers who share how they’re feeling on both the good and the bad days. And remember how I mentioned the mannequins in Target earlier? Well one brand that I’ve seen play a vital role in being real and spreading body positivity is Aerie. The brand boasts about their real-life models and ads that are never photoshopped… and they are beautiful! Many of the models also support special causes and open up about their stories on the Aerie Real page. Now these women are the ones we can look to for motivation!
DON’T Let Discouragement Hinder Your Progress: Working out is tough, I know. Often times we become discouraged when we don’t see the results we want, or when we don’t see them as quickly as we’d like. Say, for example, you’re trying to fit into a cute little dress just in time for your best friend’s wedding. You workout hard for a month or so, lose a few pounds, but still aren’t able to zip it up past your waist. Discouraged, you throw the dress on the ground and don’t even bother going to your HIIT class later that day. You didn’t meet your goal, and the “failure” you feel causes whatever motivation you had to fizzle out.
DO Stay Consistent And Keep Pushing Past Barriers: So what if you don’t meet a goal? That should just motivate you to work harder! Maybe you set the bar too high and should consider creating a more achievable goal next. Some of our best accomplishments come after a failure… so there is no excuse to give up! Consistency is key to working out and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can’t expect amazing things to happen to your body overnight. Keep up the hard work, I promise it’ll be so worth it!
Let’s stop trying to get skinny and start trying to get healthy… are you motivated yet?!
Where do you find fitness motivation? Tell us about what motivates you in the comments section or send us a message for a chance to be featured!