When you see professional athletes in top shape, winning the Olympic gold, or even in your own neighborhood, making everyone else look like the Michelin Man, they make it look so easy, at least as far as their desire is concerned. But motivation is a fickle creature, it needs constant pampering, adjustments, and perhaps most importantly, it requires imagination.

And yes, even pros get motivation slumps and need help restoring their drive every now and then. If you’re coping with your own lack of enthusiasm for staying true to your fitness goals, the following methods may be of help.

1. Partner-up
When Dr. Pamela Rackow came across a pamphlet that suggested getting an exercise companion to ensure workout consistency and inspiration, she didn’t just blindly follow the advice, but took on the challenge of checking the validity of it. And so, a study at the University of Zurich confirmed that getting a “gym buddy” makes a significant difference in our behavior and motivation towards working out.

However, even though having any partner whatsoever does help, people prefer having someone who will support them and encourage them to achieve their goals. This element of emotional support by their partner has increased their training frequency and consistency even more. The lesson? Train with someone who will support you through the ups and downs, and you’ll likely look forward to your mutual training sessions.

2. Let the music be your muse
If you doubt the impact of music on your mindset during workouts, here’s a fun fact for you. Using portable players during award-driven and money-based competitions is forbidden, because it gives athletes the edge over their music-less competitors!
From a purely physiological perspective, music is a useful distraction, keeping your mind from the pain and discomfort during arduous workouts, while it also elevates your mood and pumps your body with happy hormones and reduces cortisol. Studies have shown that those who listen to the right tunes (with the right beat, lyrics and emotional meaning) actually perform better, run longer, lift more and are able to push their boundaries more.

3. Reward yourself
Yes, some people respond well to the traditional “punishment”-oriented system of motivation, but since working out and a healthy lifestyle are meant to be enjoyable and fulfilling, why not motivate yourself with the help of rewards of all sorts? That doesn’t mean binge-eating on sweets, but finding healthy replacements and experiences that will further reinforce building healthy habits and prompt you to train even when the initial excitement wears off.

For example, sports massages are a great way of relieving tension, and they make for an excellent monthly treat after you’ve hit some of your fitness milestones. You can also treat yourself to a new pair of workout clothes, new headphones, or a new gym bag. The reward doesn’t even have to be fitness-related, as long as it is a treat. These steps may seem trivial, but in the long-run, they create a positive network of events around your challenging fitness routine.

4. Keep your body entranced
We live in an over-stimulated world, and our attention spans are rapidly shrinking, so we crave more ways to keep our brains interested and focused. The same goes for your body – it needs novelty in order not to get too comfortable, and in order to advance properly, your workouts need regular adaptation. That could mean adding a few harder exercises, swapping your existing treadmill cardio for some HIIT or changing up the pace of your workouts.

It’s not just about adding more weight to the barbell or running more miles than before. Your body and your mind need to be stimulated to learn new moves, overcome new obstacles in order to experience growth. All that matters is that you constantly leave your comfort zone, and add more layers of challenge to the game. Try a new dance, join a hiking club, learn how to skate, the sky’s the limit when it comes to all the ways you can enrich your fitness life.

The bottom line is, motivation is not a quality we’re born with, or a feeling that stays with us once we create that initial drive. It oscillates, adapts to your environment, and your personality, and it depends on so many factors. But precisely due to its malleable nature, you can take many creative steps in preventing the slumps and increasing your inspiration – just keep your mind open and try various methods until you find what works best for you!

Post by: Samantha Oliver