Friday, February 13, 2015

The Six Secrets to Staying Motivated and Staying on Track

Ok, so they're not really secrets but I had an alliteration thing going on there with the title and I needed to go with it :)

Anyway, earlier this week, I hosted a Twitter chat with EnergyBits. I love hosting these chats. They are a great way to "meet" new people and pick up a few tips on whatever the topic may be. This week, we talked about staying motivated to workout in the winter. While we focused primarily on winter workout motivation, a lot of these tips can help at any time of the year. We all have motivation issues from time to time, even me. Believe it or not, winter in SoCal is hard too. While we don't have the cold issues, the days are still short and heading out for an early-morning or after-work run will leave you in the dark. What's even more ridiculous is that we're experiencing Santa Ana conditions right now. What does that mean? It's ridiculously hot, dry and windy. Yesterday the temp got up to 88, it was dry as a bone and the winds were 40-50mph at times. All that wind is kicking up a lot of pollen and other allergens, which is making it hard to breathe for everyone, not just allergy sufferers. Plus, we're just not used to this heat (it is February, after all) and things just seem more difficult. Runs have sucked this week for all the above reasons. So we SoCalers are having issues too. Which is why I thought it would be helpful to compile all the different tips and tricks we discussed in our chat. Hopefully some of you can pick up a new trick or two and stay on track through the winter. If you're here from the Tuesdays on the Run link up hosted by My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Run the Great Wide Somewhere, welcome! Be sure to check out all the linkup bloggers here.

1. Take your workout indoors. The number 1 reason most people don't stick to their workout plans in the winter (at least according to our tweet chat participants) was the weather. The cold temps, unsafe conditions outside due to snow and the decreased daylight were all reasons for falling off the workout wagon. If possible, take the workout indoors. If you're lucky enough to have a treadmill, bike, elliptical or other machine at home, use it. If you belong to a gym, go to it. Another option is doing some strength training routines, yoga, Pilates or other indoor workout that allows you to work up a sweat. While it may not be your sport of choice, at least you're moving. There are tons of subscription workout sites now, such as YogaToday, YogaGlo, DailyBurn and more. You can also stream or rent workout DVDs from Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video. Your own cable company may have some exercise videos or shows on demand. And for the old schoolers here, the library is also a great place to get workout DVDs. There are also several apps you can download for workouts such as the Nike+ Training app, FitStar, the 7-minute workout challenge and Yoga Studio. Some are free with in-app purchases, some have subscriptions and others you buy outright. Regardless, the winter months are a perfect time to try a new activity, especially if you can't workout outside the way you'd like.

2. Sign up for a race or other event. A great motivator is having something to train for. This goes back to setting goals for yourself as having realistic and attainable goals is the main predictor of your success. In fact, having races on my calendar is something I do to keep me motivated to log hundreds of miles each year. Having a race or other event on the calendar is a constant reminder to keep moving. And the financial commitment of paying for the race helps too. Take it a step further and tell people you've signed up for the race. This will keep you accountable. Trust me, when your friends and family ask you about your training, you're not going to want to admit you haven't been training. I recommend having a race every 3 months or so if you're new to racing. This way you have an ample amount of time to train and recover before the next one. Sure, you can do more than that, just be careful not to go crazy so you can avoid getting injured, burned out, or both.

3. Stay on top of your nutrition. One of the reasons given for lack of motivation was eating badly. Eating badly makes us feel like crap and can take away the desire to be active. Try to stay on top of eating well in the winter months. Eating whole, minimally processed foods will give you more energy and help you feel great throughout the day. When you feel good, you'll be more inclined to exercise. This doesn't mean go on a diet or cleanse (ugh!), it means eat real food all the time. It's the processed junk that causes all the issues and without it, you wouldn't need to diet or go on a cleanse. Just eat real food that doesn't come in a box and you'll be ok.

4. Enlist your friends. Having someone to workout with is a lifesaver. Just like having an appointment to go to the doctor forces you to actually go, having an appointment with a friend to go to the gym, run outside in the cold or to come over and do a workout with you at home, will keep you moving. Knowing someone is waiting for you will give you that extra kick to get out of bed. If you don't have anyone that wants to join you, consider joining a running group, a new yoga studio or take a look at Meetup.com for groups doing the things you like in your area. If you're not able to join a local group or meet anyone in your area, consider joining an online forum for like-minded fitness folks. Sites like DailyMile, which is like the Facebook and Twitter for athletes, can help you connect with people all over the world. Pretty soon you'll have virtual training buddies that ask you about your workouts, wonder where you've been if you haven't posted in a while and will cheer you on when you need it most. And if online groups aren't your thing, simply ask some friends to text you every now and then asking about your workouts.

5. Remind yourself of why you started. Some of you may have started on your road to fitness because you wanted to lose weight, you wanted to try something new, you need to out run health issues in your family, you want to keep up with your kids, etc. Ask 100 people what their reason is, you'll get 100 different ones. Whatever your reason is for starting, remind yourself of it daily. Especially in times when motivation is lacking. One tweet chat participant said she keeps old photos of herself on her phone so she can remind herself of what she used to look like before she lost weight from running. I like to write my reasons down and look at them from time to time so I can remind myself that my training is much more than logging miles and finishing races. It's about keeping my health in check. There are a lot of health conditions in my family that are chasing me down and if I can prolong and hopefully prevent them from catching up, I'll be a happy girl. But I also run so I can have the energy to get through my day, play with my kids, sleep well at night (which is a constant struggle), see my friends, and do something for myself. In addition to writing my reasons down, I do have my training log that I look at a lot. I even graph my mileage (don't judge me). And when motivation is lacking, reminding myself of how far I've come helps to keep me going further.

6. Remember what it feels like to have to start over. I understand that life happens and we sometimes need to take a break from our exercise routines due to things that are beyond our control. We get injured, sick, have life events, etc. Then there are the times you've fallen behind in training due to things that were within your control and you had to start over. Regardless of the reason, starting over really sucks. And it sucks even more when we are starting over because we just stopped what we were doing for no good reason. We've all done it before. A day off turns into two, then a week and then before you know it, you haven't run in a few months. Then you try to get started again and you're just kicking yourself for stopping to begin with. Don't let it get to that point.

If you find yourself having motivation issues now or at any other time, try the above tips and see which one works the best for you to help stay on track. Try something new. Google search new workouts. Read through some new books for inspiration (such as The Skinny Confidential which you can win in our giveaway!). Whatever you do, don't give up!

What are some of the ways you stay motivated during the winter or at any other times? If a friend was having motivation troubles, what would you tell them?


50 comments:

  1. This is all great advice! I do find signing up for a race is one of the best motivators:)
    Because I had to take 2 years off racing due to a work injury I completely get the "remember what it feels like to start over" I am and have been going through that the past year and it is fun in some ways, but struggling in others! Helps me to keep motivated and not take it for granted like I may have used to years in the past!

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    1. I always say I'm going to take a break from races but I never do. They just help so much to get me to maybe run longer than I would without them or not take that day off when I don't want to get out of bed :)

      Hope you're back on the roads soon!

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  2. I completely agree with #4! Duh! How would I get by without a little help from my friends?! Especially YOU!!! xoxo

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    1. Back at you, sister!! Knowing I get to spend hours with you every week is the best. Xoxo

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  3. I am jealous of your warm weather for sure. Having friends to run with is the best motivation ever. Don't know what I would do without my running group.

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    1. I know! I feel so lucky to have met some really wonderful girls to spend my miles with.

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  4. I agree with all of these! I have been having a lot of lack of motivation lately! I am a big wuss when it comes to being out in the cold! And I don't have a treadmill or a gym close to my house either! So I wanted something fun that I would enjoy doing, so I got the XBox kinect game for Zumba. Even the boys love doing it with me! Anything to get up and off the couch right?! Have a great weekend!

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    1. That's awesome Shayna! Even though you're not doing exactly what you normally do, you're still being active so when you do get back to running, you're not starting over completely. And you're having fun and spending time with your kids. Not much can beat that!

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  5. Having a race to look forward to always helps me with my training. If I don't have something to reach for I find it difficult to want to work out.

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    1. Yup! Me too. What are you training for now?

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  6. All of these. I run indoors a lot because the weather just isn't runner friendly most of the time. My friends and I keep each other motivated by talking about the training we're doing. We may be doing different races, different distances, but it's always fun to talk about it.

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    1. Yes and knowing you'll be talking about it with them probably helps get you on that treadmill!

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  7. For me signing up for races and committing to things with friends get me out the door most! Great points all!

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    1. Thanks! Yes, anytime I can combine a race with the friends, it's that much better!

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  8. Great tips! I definitely find that having a full schedule helps get me out the door!

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    1. Thanks! Are you training for anything now?

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  9. Not 'secrets', perhaps - but great reminders! Living in Vancouver, I'm lucky enough to not have to contend with cold - just wet. I don't mind running in the rain (too much - se http://bit.ly/1DSoFLs).

    I absolutely agree that signing up for races is a great motivator, and that will hopefully keep me on track this year. I had to take time off last summer due to an injury, and it was tough getting back on the wagon.

    Thanks for sharing! Yay for Grow Your Blog!

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    1. Thanks Bradley! Yes, no real secrets to staying motivated, I was just being silly with the alliteration in the title. What are you training for? I hope your training goes well!

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  10. These are some great tips. For me the biggest ones are having indoor workouts to do so I can avoid the cold and snow as well as making plans with someone so that I HAVE to show up.

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    1. Accountability makes such a difference for me too. When someone is waiting for me, I can't just bail unless it's a good reason. And not many are good enough.

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  11. Great tips! The weather is definitely a deterrent for me in terms of exercise in the winter (I really wish it wasn't though; I'm a wimp when it comes to the cold! :[ ). I need to start doing indoor workouts, and I've been trying to work on my nutrition more so than usual because of the whole not-exercising-as-much lately!

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    1. It's great that you're staying on top of your nutrition. That will help so much when you get back to working out.

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  12. great tips! I am lucky here in Florida I can train/run pretty much year round- I only really need to dodge the rain :) I think always having a race signed up for and finding friends that run are crucial to my running plans!

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    1. Definitely! even if we're not training for the same race, having friends to run with makes all the difference!

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  13. I take my workouts inside during both the Winter (lack of daylight hours during the work week) and the Summer (the brutal heat.) The fact that I am writing this in Texas should explain a lot. My motivation goes in waves. I have learned to just kind of go with it and train hard when I am motivated and just make the effort to have some kind of workout when I am not. Something is better than nothing, right?

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    1. I always feel like something is better than nothing. If you don't feel like going for your full run or without, tell yourself you'll do half. Chances are you end up doing more than you expected anyway.

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  14. #4 is probably the one that works the best for me. If I make plans I hate to back out so even if I don't really want to, I do it anyway! The great thing about living in the Southwest is I don't have to contend with bad weather very often. I very rarely get to use that as an excuse not to at least take a walk around my neighborhood.

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    1. I always feel terrible canceling a workout with a friend so I rareky do it unless it's for a really good reason. Lack of motivation isn't a good enough reason, unfortunately 😉

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  15. I often let the colder weather keep me from running, but this year, being a part of Run this Year has really kept me moving! I really have been enjoying and feeling motivated seeing the miles add up!

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    1. I have to say I LOVE seeing my miles add up. As I mentiomed, I geek out and graph it all out. I love seeing the months just grow and grow. It's so motivating. Have fun!

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  16. This are all spot on for sure. I have a hard time getting motivated in the winter because I HATE cold weather running. I never can warm up no matter what clothes I'm wearing. In fact, I hit the treadmill for 16 miles yesterday!!

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    1. When we lived back east, running in the cold was tough. Especially with mountains of snow. Those loooong runs on the treadmill were tough too! Great job getting it done! That's mental toughness at its finest!

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  17. www.skortaholics.com visiting from the Blog Hop! These are good points! I don't find winter hard because of motivation, but just because the logistics get difficult, so these help out folks that are motivated, but just can't figure out how to get there! Although, it is really, REALLY hard to be motivated to swim (even in an indoor pool) in the middle of the winter -- would love a tip for that :-)

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    1. I would imagine staying motivated to swim in the winter would be tough. I guess you can't wear a wetsuit in the pool? ;)

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  18. These are all great tips. I love the idea of enlisting a friend. It's so much harder to back out or skip a workout when someone else is depending on you being there. It's a win for both people!

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    1. Yes! Both people get help staying on track! For me lately, having people to run is the #1 reason to get out the door.

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  19. I love the nutrition tip. That is so true, for me anyway. When I'm on the top of my game nutrition-wise I am 10x more motivated to workout. Eating crappy foods makes me feel crappy.

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    1. Yes! People don't tie in nutrition enough. If you're not eating well, it will affect everything. And even the most dedicated exercisers will have issues if their nutrition stinks. We are what we eat!

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  20. Love ENERGYbits! I trained indoors a lot last winter. It was our first winter with a treadmill and it made it easier and more convenient to stay on track. Great tips!

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    1. Our treadmill was such a good investment. Even when it's not motivation but when life happens, it's a big help in staying on track.

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  21. I love to watch Fitness Blender's YouTube workout videos for indoors! They have all kins of workouts for all levels! I'm also a huge fan of Yoga Studio! Best yoga app I have found!

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    1. I'll have to check out Fitness Blender! Thank you for the tip!

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  22. These are all really great tips! I think signing up for a race or having some type of goal/motivator is a huge one! I am currently training for a marathon so it's really easy to not skip a workout - if I do, I have to look at my training plan and physically see that I skipped a workout - definitely a motivator to get out there! Winter really does make it difficult, but thankfully (so far) we've had a pretty mild winter in Utah.

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    1. Yes sometimes it actually causes more issues to miss a workout when training for a big race. Having to make changes to get the workout in screws everything up. Might as well do the workout (unless the reason for skipping is beyond control, that is).

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  23. Great tips! I especially liked the first one about having a backup location for winter runs/workouts. In Wisconsin, this is especially important as the weather is often super cold/snowy/icy, etc. Best to have a treadmill or indoor track in mind to avoid skipping workouts and losing fitness!

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    1. Yup! And if you still can't get a run in, other indoor workouts can help keep fitness up until you can run!

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  24. The tips are so great! I agree with signing up for a race to keep you motivated. That's pretty much the reason why I always have a race on my calendar. Can you believe I have never tried Energybits? I think I'm just about the only person who hasn't! They just don't sound appealing to me but everyone raves about them. Perhaps I should try them! Glad I found you via the blog hop!

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    1. Races definitely keep me motivated and give my training shape and direction. ENERGYbits are great! You don't actually chew them so you don't really taste them. And I find they keep my energy sustained and even rather than the spikes I get from just gels and chews. Feel free to use my code RUNWITHSOLE for 30% off if you want to try them.

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  25. This is absolutely wonderful. I know I sometimes am just not feeling it or lack that added motivation. Probably what helps me the most is to remember why I started and remember what it's like to start over. This post is very encouraging and I kinda needed it today. So glad to meet you through the blog hop!

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    1. So glad you found the post helpful, Donna! I hope you can use some of the tips to keep motivated. Glad to meet you too!

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