The motivation to train in winter can be fleeting, even for the most dedicated gym girl.
Those icy winter mornings and dark early evenings tempt us to stay under the duvet or head straight for the couch with a blanket and our ‘fave’ cup of protein-enriched, sugar-free hot chocolate, right?
While there’s nothing wrong with a duvet day, the problem is that motivation is like a muscle. If you don’t flex it often enough, it weakens. That’s right. Motivation can be strengthened and developed, but you need to have a plan in place to get that initial impetus for action when your willpower rebels against you. Here are 5 tips to boost your motivation this winter:
#1: Change your mindset
The source of our motivation and actions are, first and foremost, our thoughts. So, when we change our thoughts by making the conscious decision to clean up our mind and our thought processes, we will transform our actions.
Studies in psychology have found a direct link between a person’s emotions and their levels of motivation. People who try to accomplish tasks with a negative mindset are far more likely to quit before accomplishing their goal than those who started out with positive thoughts.
For this reason it is best to think about the positive aspects of your impending workout rather than any negatives. As an example, if you’re heading out for a long run or ride consider how good it will feel to get outdoors, with the wind and the warmth of the sun on your face, rather than how difficult it will be.
#2: Inspire action
Visualisation is another powerful tool that can help get you into the right frame of mind and align your thoughts.
A mood board, for example, will help you visualise what you’ll look and feel like once you have reached your goal, which will motivate you to get to work. A motivational mood board can include images of athletes or models who inspire you to reach your goals. Watching motivational or inspirational videos online can also help to get you going when motivation levels are low.
Just keep in mind that while some people are more receptive to visual cues, others may respond better to auditory, kinaesthetic or sensory stimuli. If you’re an auditory person, then listen to music or podcasts that inspire you when the going gets tough.
If you’re a kinaesthetic person, select exercises that you enjoy simply for the sake of the movement you experience. If you’re a sensory person, then go for a massage when you’re not feeling 100%.
#3: Make it entertaining
And those auditory tips apply to everyone, because who isn’t motivated by the perfect workout playlist?
Compiling a range of playlists to meet different moods and preferences with some of your favourite songs will definitely get you up and going.
This works because the intense pleasure experienced when listening to music releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in underlying pleasurable reactions, in the mesolimbic reward system. As such, the euphoric ‘highs’ from music are neuro-chemically reinforced by the brain so people keep going back to it.
To put this effect into context, a research team from Brunel University in London conducted a study on the effectiveness of listening to music while working out. They found that people were able to endure their exercise routines for 15% longer when listening to upbeat, fast-paced music. “Music is an effective psychological stimulant that can change the way we perceive the gym environment and bring about significant improvements in both exercise performance and how we feel.” commented lead researcher Dr Costas Karageorghis.
#4: Remember your ‘why’
Finding your ‘why’ – your intrinsic motivator – will carry you through difficult days or through those times when your motivation levels are at their lowest. When determining your ‘why’, ask yourself, “what drives me? What is my greatest desire?”
Purpose gives us energy, focus and perseverance during our most trying times. Remind yourself why you started your journey, because this will motivate you to get to your goal.
#5: Change things up
A new challenge is a great way to revive waning motivation levels to keep your training interesting. Sign up for a group class if you really feel like you’re going to skip your workout, or switch up your training with a few fun outdoor activities on days when you don’t feel like going to the gym. That way, you get to work out and experience something new and different, which are great ways to revive your motivation.
This article was originally published in Fitness magazine, with content supplied by Mariska du Plessis, Pedro van Gaalen, Dr Garrath Rosslee and Laetitia Dee.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.