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10 Steps to Keep Yourself Motivated to Exercise Regularly

10 Steps to Keep Yourself Motivated to Exercise Regularly

Disclaimer: I am not a trained health and wellness guru, nor am I medical doctor. Before embarking on any exercise activities, you should consult with your doctor or healthcare professional.

Exercise. It’s an important part of any healthy lifestyle. Exercising can be one of the hardest activities to commit to doing regularly. Scheduling a workout is easy, but getting yourself to partake in some form of physical activity (i.e. exercise) is where things get tricky. Many friends, relatives, acquaintances, and people I meet often complain about wanting to exercise regularly, but all seem to have excuses why they are unable to do so.

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There are a combination of factors why people don’t exercise, a few of these factors are: 1) lack of time, or engagement with other activities that are deemed of higher priority than exercise, 2) physical restrictions, such as having an injury or disability, 3) good ol’ laziness, and 4) being ill. Aside from being ill, three of these excuses can likely be addressed and dismissed with a little motivation.

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Below are 10 steps I use to motivate myself to exercise more regularly:

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  • Determine the types of physical activity you like or dislike, as well as the activities that you physically can or cannot do. Focus on doing the activities you enjoy, can do, and able are to financially afford. You don’t need to sign up to a gym contract to get a good work-out. There are an endless number of exercises you can do without gym equipment or weights. You can learn more about such exercises by researching websites and videos online using search terms like “exercises without weights”. The key is to explore and try new and enjoyable ways of becoming and staying physically active.
  • Visualize performing the exercise activity. William Arthur Ward was quoted saying, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” This quote holds true even for small feats, like going on a daily jog. Visualizing gives your brain something to do before your body does it. It also makes exercising seem more surmountable, considering any obstacles one may face.
  • Time limit your activity and don’t cut yourself short. Tyler Durden from Fight Club said it best, “Don’t let the things you own, own you.” Your job, cell phone, computer, friends, or family can take up a lot of time, but surely you can grant yourself some time to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom, so why not a few minutes for exercise? For example, you can start with 5 or 10 minutes, three days a week, and build up from there. Even if you’re super busy traveling the world, you can take 5-10 minutes to stretch and do some push-ups or sit-ups wherever you are. You can always increase or decrease the time you spend exercising!
  • Form an exercise habit, no matter how small it is. One good habit can lead to another. Committing to too much exercise can burn a person out, especially if they haven’t had an exercise habit for a considerable period. Similarly, if you haven’t worked out for a long time, try starting with basic activities, such as simply dressing in your work-out gear, or going for a walk around the house or your neighbourhood. The key is to take time out for yourself and do something physical. Even taking 5 minutes to stretch your body is a good start, so long as you can keep doing it regularly.
  • Set milestones and goals for yourself. Having a fitness goal in mind can be helpful to staying focused. For example, if you wanted to be able to do 30 pull-ups in 60 seconds, you would want to work towards that goal by having several milestones, such as 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 pull ups in between. Milestones ensure you keep sight of your goal by having a set of achievable and quantifiable steps leading up to your goal.
  • Get involved in the social aspect of it. Exercising alone can be a bore. Fortunately, in the digital age, it is easy to connect with fellow exercise enthusiasts who enjoy meeting up with others to partake in exercise activities of shared interest. Facebook friends, Eventbrite events, local running clubs, social fitness apps etc. all help to connect you to other people who can motivate and make it more enjoyable to exercise.
  • Build interest in the industry. For example, if you are getting into tennis, learning more about tennis racquets, string types and tensions, tennis clothing, tennis ball types etc. are all part of the journey towards becoming a more informed player. Learning about the industry products and services will give you a greater interest and appreciation for your chosen sport or activity, as well as possibly helping you boost your performance, if you learn of new methods to improve and become a better player/participant.
  • Work towards your ideal self. Remind yourself of the body and figure you see your ideal self possessing and exercise your way towards it. Let’s be clear, that apart from possible health issues, there is nothing wrong with being overweight, but a person may have a self-image problem if they feel their self-confidence reduced because of their weight or body shape. There is no harm in imagining and working towards or retaining the body you want.
  • Having a better lifestyle. Once you start to feel the benefits of regular exercise, you may also start to become more conscious of the food you eat and other aspects of your health. Exercising, eating and drinking right, as well as adequate sleep, are all important factors of living a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy and getting adequate sleep will make it easier to retain your exercise routine.

Don’t quit. Just because you may find it hard to continue to commit yourself to three 10-minute sessions a week doesn’t mean you should stop altogether. Some physical activity is better than no physical activity at all. Don’t quit because you fall short of your milestones or goals. Forgive yourself for slipping up, dust yourself off, and try again. The longer you hold your exercise habit, the less likely you will quit, and the more likely you will build upon it!

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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Areion Azimi

Product Director at Sweet Startup

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Published on September 21, 2018

How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

“Can I look like you in 3 months?”

The teenager stared at me, waiting eagerly for a response. It’s a normal day as a certified fitness coach and yet again, I had to grab some flying feet and put them down on the ground of reality again.

“If I would be able to reach this body in 3 months, you think it would’ve taken me 5 years?” I responded smilingly.

In the same moment I tapped the teenager on the shoulder and we both went to the training floor together. Fast forward to today, he eventually reached his dream body. But it took him a little bit longer than 3 months.

In this article, I want to give you a broad overview and answer to the commonly asked question: how long does it take to build muscle and increase fat loss?

Your biggest enemy for building muscle and fat loss

I remember when I joined my first gym years back. After two weeks of continuous training, I saw absolutely no difference in the mirror.

I googled “2 weeks body transformation” and was frustrated by seeing all these pictures by savvy marketers.

We human beings have evolved to seek instant gratification. We can’t wait for things to happen tomorrow. We want them today or even better, yesterday.

It doesn’t matter if we talk about business or our fitness results. If we truly want to make a long-lasting change, we have to delay our innate need to crave gratification instantly and focus on the big picture.

In the book called Grit by Angela Duckworth, a predictor for future success in children was the so called ‘Marshmallow Test’.

The Marshmallow Test works this way. Children are basically given two options:

  1. Eat the marshmallow in front of them right now.
  2. Wait 10 minutes without eating the first marshmallow and get a second marshmallow to eat on top.

This is an insane test of willpower and the ability to delay gratification for an even bigger payoff, as a 10-year old school child. If the child already mastered that crucial skill at such a young age, it was a strong predictor for future success.

We all have to learn how to delay gratification better. Most people overestimate what they can do in one month, but totally underestimate what they can do in 10 years.

What you really need to build muscle fast

Your ground zero

It all matters on which point we start off. Because the reality is:

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Everyone has to start somewhere.

A former Olympic athlete will have an easier time building muscles and losing fat than an avid couch potato. There are mainly two reasons for this:

  • The pre-selected genetic blueprint of the athlete.
  • Work ethic of a professional.

While countless of variables play a role in influencing your success in the gym, it all can be traced back to those crucial points. And the saying still holds merit:

Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard. — Tim Notke

A mentor of mine told me years ago that you can succeed in life if you just don’t give up.

You can have average skills, average genetics and average work ethic. As long as you keep improving on your craft, you will succeed.

Not immediately – but definitely and finally.

Setting the right expectations

I’m great at setting unrealistic goals and having the wrong expectations. I wanted to have 100,000 subscribers on my Youtube Channel and at the end of my first year when I started, back in 2015, I ended up with 30.

This is an embarrassing story, but I hope it gets one point across:

Your goals need to be realistic if you can’t deal with the setbacks of not reaching them.

Ending up with 30 subscribers even after pulling frequent all-nighters to get this endeavor rolling was soul-crushing. I contemplated throwing in the towel.

With the right support from my network and discipline, I managed to keep going. The channel has now grown 100-fold in those 3 years.

To find out what is realistic, consider the next timeline.

The muscle growth timeline

Here’s what results you can expect if your main goal is building lean tissue mass. Warning: Genuine muscle growth without performance enhancing drugs takes a long time.

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Of course these time periods can vary individually depending on your genetic blueprint and work-ethic. You might see results sooner, or maybe even later.

The time frame is set to training 2-3 times per week (continuously!).

Pro tip: Ask a friend or hire a coach to boost your progress tremendously.

This is what happens when you decide to join a gym, out of my experience training hundreds of clients:

Month 1-3

Eat – Sleep – Gym – Repeat.

Your motivation is at your peak at this point. You will tell your friends and family about your new workout regime. You will notice slight differences in your appearance, which are mainly nonexistent.

You will experience immense strength gains on your training because your body finally realizes how to use its muscles properly.

Month 3-6

This is the time period where most people break. You will be going to the gym consistently, yet the results won’t come just now. It’s the big dip in the whole process.

Your goal in this phase is to build a habit around your gym visits. You will most likely discontinue to have the all-in mentality as in the first 3 months. You will seek sustainability. Breaking news: It will still be hard.

But in the end it’s all worth it. Trust me.

Month 6-12

“I’ve seen a new vein in my arm!”

The guy came up to me excited. This is the time where the normal person starts to see considerable results in his training.

An old friend will talk to him and see a difference in his body shape. Suddenly, his old t-shirt gets too thin. The frequent gym-goer feels amazing.

Month 12- 24

Fitness is a trojan horse. While you might think frequent training will only change your body shape, your character will be impacted too.

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Your friends and family will notice. You’re more confident, assertive and more happy with your self-image. You feel confident and sure in your abilities because you have achieved what you set out to do.

Breaking news:

You will still not be satisfied. And that’s a good thing. But don’t forget to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

They haven’t come easy.

Month 24+

“That’s what works for me!”

If you’ve been going frequently and consistently (twice every week for 2 years), you can pat yourself on the shoulders.

If you’ve done most things correctly and with a certified coach, you will reach the goal shape at this point. But this is also the point where it can get frustrating.

Further results will come painstakingly slow at this stage. You increasingly have to work on your weaknesses and constantly alter your training to see further results. Be it applying different repetitions, intensity, workout duration, speed or machines.

A lot of people will not see results after this stage because the benefits are not worth the work for them. We have to realize that what got us here, will not get us to the next level.

The fat loss timeline

If you’re trying to lose fat, I have 2 pieces of news for you:

  1. It will come faster. Fat loss has a shorter timeline.
  2. It will be exactly as hard as building muscles, if not harder.

Here’s what you can expect if you’re starting to lose weight. Here again: Proper guidance can speed up the process.

Month 1

“I’ve lost 10kg in the first week!”

Your results will come fast. Too fast.

You will feel exhausted. Most of your weight that you lose will be water. This is the big dip in the whole weight loss process.

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The shocking news: Most people stop their diet in the first month.

Month 2-3

You will reconsider your dieting strategy and opt for more sustainability. You will reintroduce “bad foods” in your diet that you’ve most likely blocked out in the first two weeks or month.

Because balance (and not quitting your diet) is more important to you at this stage than seeing rapid weight loss. Your life quality will increase at this stage.

Month 6-12

At this time frame, you have probably lost more than 10kg. The majority of the people looking to lose weight will be satisfied with their results and shocked by how much of a difference it makes in their appearance.

You will feel more confident, more energized and more self-assured. You would’ve never guessed that you could make it, that you could finally lose your weight – yet you did!

And everyone will notice. “What happened to you?!” – your friends will ask you jealously. Old crushes of you will suddenly initiate contact again just to know what you’re “up to this weekend”.

The fat loss after this stage will come slowly if you haven’t been obese to start with. The goal at this stage is to have created a rock-solid habit out of your gym and eating patterns.

Then you don’t have to worry about the Yo-Yo effect.

Conclusion

“You changed my life!”

The same teenager took me aside at a Monday evening. He had his first date the weekend prior. Apparently it went well.

In the whole time frame we worked together, he built up more than 10 kilograms of muscles. It took him more than 2 years. Yet I’m sure if you’d ask him today, he would tell you that it was all worth it.

Focus on the things that you can control. Losing fat or building muscles might be an overwhelming task to start out with. We have to delay our innate need for instant gratification and focus on the things that we can control.

Changing our genetic blueprint or the responses our muscles have to the training stimulus is not in our hands. But training at least 2 times per week, eating the right foods and setting the right goals and expectations is.

Featured photo credit: Arthur Edelman via unsplash.com

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