Staying Motivated to Work Out During a Pandemic

 Staying Motivated to Work Out During a Pandemic

How do you stay motivated during a pandemic?

It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot lately.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first began, many people stayed optimistic about fitness. They focused on the time they would save by no longer commuting, and dove into the world of Zoom workout classes and home gym setups.

But nine months later, so many of those people have lost that sense of optimisim that kept them going at the beginning, and are struggling to find the energy to stick with their goals.

Without something to train for, even athletes whose lives typically revolve around their workouts are having a hard time staying motivated right now.

And I get it. COVID has made me question my goals and priorities in all areas of my life — including my training goals. Short and long-term goals that used to feel so important no longer seem to matter as much any more.

Despite my dedication to fitness and long-term health, even I have days when I wake up and wonder why I even bother. Why put myself through the stress of a tough workout when no one knows when any of this is going to end?

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I never thought I’d miss the gym

I never thought I would say this, but I miss gyms. It’s not that I miss the equipment. Even when I did go to a gym before Covid, I rarely used more than a pull-up bar, medicine ball, and a plyo box. I certainly never touched the weight machines or cardio equipment (I always bring …

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Plateaus are Part of the Process

Plateaus are Part of the Process

We’ve all experienced it: that initial burst of progress any time we’re starting something new, then, what seems like a lifetime of being stuck at the same level.

Plateaus happen to everyone. No matter what level you’re starting at, you will experience a plateau at some point. While plateaus are never fun, they’re a normal, albeit frustrating, part of getting better at anything.

When you reach a plateau, it’s helpful to acknowledge it, then reevaluate where you are in your journey.

Here are a few things to consider:

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5 Ways Fitness is a Training Ground for Life

5 Ways Fitness is a Training Ground for Life

Fitness has been my biggest teacher in life.

Through push-ups, squats, burpees, and sprints, I’ve become not only physically stronger and fitter than my former non-fit self, but mentally stronger, too.

Fitness helped me learn that I can do difficult things. It taught me patience and persistence. After spending most of my life hiding behind a wall of fear, always afraid to fail, fitness helped me learn to try.

Without the lessons I’ve learned so far in my fitness journey, I would be a shell of the person I am today. And I know I’m not alone.

I hear so many stories from others who have had similar experiences. From the lawyer who got through the hardship of her teenage years by running every day, to the scientist who learned how to deal with life’s unpredictability through skateboarding, fitness has the power to change lives.

Below are five ways fitness can teach you valuable life lessons, no matter your current fitness level, previous experience, age, sex, or genetics. These ring true whether your fitness activity of choice is lifting weights, playing pickup basketball, or going for an awe-inspiring hike in nature. Keep coming back to these and notice how you can use your workouts as a training ground for the rest of your life.

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Is There a Secret to Getting Fit?

Is there a secret to getting fit? 

People always want to know the secret to getting and staying fit.

I used to look for this magic pill, too. Years after I became a personal trainer and got in reasonably good shape, I still spent way too much time and money on programs, books, and devices I hoped would finally help me build the strength and body I wanted.

It took me a long time to figure out that there is no secret to becoming fit for life.

But…there also kind of is.

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How Small Wins Can Help You Achieve Big Goals

small wins

“The problem human beings face is not that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim too low and succeed.” – Michelangelo

Setting big, audacious goals is important if you want to work toward fulfilling your potential in both fitness and life. But the reality check of setting such big goals can be demoralizing once you realize just how much work you have ahead of you.

That initial excitement you get from dreaming big is often followed by a feeling of overwhelm, prompting questions of self-doubt like, “How can I possibly go for a goal this big?” And, “Where do I even start?”

This is where learning to recognize small wins can motivate you to keep going, even when you have months (or years) of work ahead of you to get where you want to go.

Small wins are essentially progress points on the way to your larger goal. They remind your brain that no matter how futile your efforts may seem at times, you are making progress.

These small wins can act as a checklist en route to your bigger goals. Because while they may seem small in the moment, if you achieve enough over time they’ll add up to big results.

Here’s how to harness the power of small wins to achieve any fitness (or non-fitness) related goal.

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Changing Your Identity Around Fitness

You might not realize this, but I never used to think of myself as an athlete. In fact, I never even thought of myself as a person who worked out until I reached my mid-twenties. Before that, I thought of myself as a slightly overweight, uncoordinated art school kid with zero athletic promise. That was my fitness identity, and I never expected it to change.

When I first started working out toward the end of college because I was sick of how I looked in dressing room mirrors, I tortured myself by going for three-mile runs a few times a week. I hated every minute of those runs and would use any excuse to get out of my workouts (that runner’s high? I’ve never experienced it).

It took years of experimenting with different types of exercise and various ways of motivating myself to chip away at the story I had told myself about my athletic abilities.

Even after I became a personal trainer and admittedly began to enjoy many forms of exercise, it still took a while to actually find my thing and prove to myself that I had changed my core identity from someone who avoided most forms of physical activity to someone who truly loved fitness and movement.

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How to Increase the Challenge of Your Home Workouts

make-home-workouts-harder

One thing is for sure: home workouts aren’t going away any time soon.

With gyms continuing to be closed in many places around the world due to Covid-19, more people than ever are trying to figure out how to work out using their bodyweight or the few pieces of workout equipment they have at home.

Even when gyms do open up, gyms and workout classes will look much different than before the pandemic. My guess is that a significant portion of the population will continue to work out at home much more than before due to convenience, and for some people, fear.

I’ve been training using my bodyweight and a few select pieces of equipment for nearly a decade now, and my workouts don’t look much different than they did before the world turned upside down.

There is so much you can do using your bodyweight, even if you have strength or mass goals (just look at gymnasts for proof).

In spite of this, I’m still hearing a lot of people say they don’t know how to get the same workout they used to do at the gym at home.

If you feel like your home workouts aren’t challenging you enough, or are looking for ways to increase strength, power, or speed while at home, here are several ways to up the challenge.

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Reframing Struggle as Part of the Growth Process

struggle-growth

We’re told to dream big and shoot for the stars, but nobody ever mentions that going after our dreams is going to be hard.

They definitely don’t tell us that it should be hard—and that if it isn’t, we’re doing something wrong.

Our society loves the myth of “uncovering” some magic ability that was unknowingly hiding this whole time. 

We cheer when the kid in the superhero movie suddenly unleashes some magical ability he never knew he had and knows how to use it perfectly with little to no training. We idolize sports icons like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, and Rafael Nadal, but we often gloss over just how much these real-life superheroes struggled along their journey.

We don’t like to struggle. But we should, because struggle is a necessary part of the growth process.

Point blank: if you don’t struggle, you won’t grow.

Reframing Struggle

When we’re struggling, most of us think something is amiss. Struggle feels negative, something to be avoided.

But this is one of the many reasons I love fitness so much: it’s such a fantastic training ground for the rest of life.

When you’re working toward a new fitness goal, whether it’s to build a new skill like a pull-up, gaining a faster sprint time, or training for an obstacle race like a Tough Mudder, you don’t expect it to come easily to you. You expect to struggle.

Training your body to become stronger and more resilient is also training your mind to do the same thing.

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Learn to Hack Motivation by Reframing Your Idea of What Exercise Is

“Whereas people usually say they are playing a sport, they use the term workout to describe vigorous exercise, reflecting that for many this may not be the most enjoyable part of their day.” – Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci, Self-Determination Theory

There is little question among scientists and psychologists that we are made to move as humans. As kids, we naturally run, jump, bound, and play.

For kids, playgrounds equate to endless hours of enjoyment. Metal bars are viewed not as something to cringe at and avoid, but as something to delight in.

Moving is FUN.

Yet for many of us, this notion of movement as something to look forward to doesn’t last long.

Somewhere along the way, movement slowly transforms from something we naturally crave without thinking in childhood, to something we’re taught to dread (yet feel like we have to do) as we reach adulthood.

No wonder most people struggle with motivation to get and stay fit.

Fortunately, this mindset can be changed.

By learning to reframe your idea of what exercise is, you can hack motivation, break through plateaus, and make exercise fun again.

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