Wednesday 19 November 2014

Road to Workout - 3: Maintaining Motivation

   Motivation is a big issue when you're just starting to work out, and you really have got to take it where ever you find it. Even a year on from this year's resolution alone, I find my motivation slipping. So I'll tell you how I keep myself lifted.

   First there's the obvious: remember that, once you get started with your workout, you do enjoy it. I used to want to give up quite often even when all my workout consisted of was dancing, but when I plucked up the courage and got to work later that morning, I always enjoyed it immensely. It's likely to be the same for you, so remember that, and remember that by working out you are only doing yourself good. Nothing bad in the slightest. Keeping at it will make your future self much happier, too - 'do something today that your future self with thank you for'.
   But when I need an extra boost on top of it, maybe because my workout is at the 3-week point and I've not weighed myself since I started it and refuse to do so until I've finished (it's just how I roll), these are some of the things that I turn to:

1) New workout clothes. I adore USA Pro - all of my clothes and just about all of my kit is from USA Pro. The prices are affordable, quality is through the roof, and the designs are awesome. The clothes are also stupidly comfy and so flattering I'm forced to ask why all normal clothes don't fit so beautifully!
   But the thing is, affordable prices or not, I don't like to waste money. So if I buy myself a new top or a new pair of 3/4s I do not want them to go to waste. I get excited to wear them, and that makes me work a little harder because I know (or think) I look good. Eventhough I work out in my living room while Seeg is still in bed and no one ever sees me. I know it sounds strange, but like I said, motivation where you find it.

2) I took a chance and subscribed to Women's Fitness Magazine. I say 'chance' because subscriptions aren't things I do - in fact, I've never done it - and I worry about the money, but they have a trial of £3 for 3 issues, and if you like it, you subscribe. I did that, loved the magazine, and I've been a subscriber for a year, and had a letter printed. How about that?
   The reason this magazine motivates me is because sometimes it has information and articles in it that can make a big difference because they might tell me something I never knew and is very valuable, or they might reassure me and make me realise that whatever trouble I'm having is normal. In one issue they spoke about 'fat brain' and how you sometimes have days where you think you've gained weight when you look no different, or you simply cannot see the weight you've lost, because your brain can't keep up with it, especially if you've drummed into yourself that you're overweight even despite your hard work.
   It also suggests new products like healthy food to try, new kit and so on, and provides recipes and gym fashion. The slender ladies also help to boost my motivation because I want to look like them, and the fact that the magazine arrives at all reminds me why I'm doing what I'm doing.
   But to top it off, it also gives about 3-4 new workouts in every issue using body weight, dumbells, barbells, kettlebells and so on, and it was Women's Fitness Magazine that encouraged me to try out yoga, as well as giving me the moves.
   It's one of my biggest motivators and gives me a great top-up every month. I'm more than happy to pay £15 every 6 months for that!

3) Want something stranger, far less conventional and ridiculously nerdy? The character models in World of Warcraft are quite old, and Trolls are my favourite race. When they released the unique Boss model of High Priestess Mar'li and I saw her blue abs, quads and biceps, well...that fuelled me for a good 3 weeks. In fact, not only did it keep me motivated, I also worked harder over those three weeks than usual, and saw some better results, too!

4) All right, it seems that this list is going to be a bit strange and a bit nerdy from this point onwards. Music is undeniably a motivator, and it does this for me in 2 ways. The first way is if I can't be bothered to do my strength training on an evening, I'll listen to the instrumental version of La Caution's 'La Menthe' - better known as the laser dance song from Oceans Twelve. I listen to 30 seconds of that and I'm raring to go, because I see that guy dancing through the lasers and I just think "shit, I want to be able to do that! Minus the alarm-rigged lasers, though..." and upper body strength is a big, big part of that.
   The second way is, of course, the music I listen to while working out. I use DVDs for the most part, so my MP3 player doesn't get much use, but when it does it's a big booster. When I was doing kickbox fusion back in August, I listened to heavy dubstep with a really fast and solid beat that I could just keep up with while maintaining form, and it really, really made my kickboxing epic. Half of that dubstep was orchestral, too, and so my imagination ran away with me while doing it - the usual, you know? Lots of enemies swarming me while punching the crap out of them and bursting magic around myself with epic music playing over the top.
   But I also have soundtracks that I use for my strength training, most notably Avatar, The Last Airbender. Because I want to get strong enough to defeat the Fire Lord. I also have a few tracks from World of Warcraft I like to do ribcage and hip isolations to for the beat. Oh, if you hadn't guessed, I'm a giant nerd.

5) I find watching something exciting and action-packed to be quite helpful if my workout doesn't involve a DVD and my choice of music is too fast-paced for it, and lately that's been Dragon Ball Z. It's far-fetched, I know, but Goku is basically Japan's answer to Superman, and the whole show is infinitely better than Superman, too. I watched it when it first came to the West when I was about 7 so I remember it being exciting, and I also remember enough to not feel the need to watch it constantly while working out, which allows me to focus my attention correctly whilst still being entertained. They're also a reliable length of time, so as long as I start my workout as soon as the opening credits begin, I don't need to look at the clock unless my workout calls for 30-second countdowns. I'm training to fight alongside Goku, but I've got a hell of a long way to go...

6) Changing my workout every month. That was this year's new year's resolution. Last year I spent months on the same workouts and got sick of them, so this year I decided that I would change them up. It takes about a month to reach a plateau (a plateau in fitness is when your body adapts to the stresses put on it by working out and it stops becoming effective because it's become normal. Increasing weight, changing circuits around or doing something completely new can bust through them) so by changing my workout every month I can avoid hitting any, and it's been quite successful. It keeps me excited because I've done a lot of different ones, my favourites up to this point were Jillian Michael's Yoga Meltdown, Jean Butler's Irish Dance Masterclass, and Shifu Yan Lei's Shaolin Warrior Workout.

   Find what works for you and embrace it. What makes you want to work out? Seeing pictures of people with your dream body? Seeing a dress you want to be able to rock? Reading through your monthly fitness magazine? Or listening to an awesome soundtrack and imagining yourself as the main character? Take what you find and use it, because it doesn't matter to anyone else what you're motivated by. It doesn't affect them whatsoever - not that that means I'm ashamed or embarassed by my own motivation, because I'm totally not!

Next up: When to Weigh

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