fitness

Drop everything: We've found the secrets of motivated, fit people.

Image via iStock.

Kick-starting fitness routines is my specialty, and sticking with them is my downfall – but not anymore.

I’m secretly fascinated by Very Fit People.

You know the ones. They can be seen running around the park in the early mornings; bright eyes, shiny ponytails, neon sportswear and cheesy Very Fit Person grins on their faces. I watch them with the intent fascination of an ornithologist observing a rare species of tropical parrot.

How do they do it? What is this physical wizardry? How do they motivate themselves to do this every single day? Don’t they have family commitments? Busy jobs to attend to? Houses to keep tidy? Salted caramel cronuts to consume?

Related: Can I exercise while I’m still getting over a cold?

I recognise myself in them – we’re all human beings, after all – but something is different. They have what I lack and desperately need to acquire: motivation. More specifically, motivation that lasts more than a couple of fleeting months.

My own fitness efforts tend to resemble the heart monitors Very Fit People wear, rather than the fit people themselves. I get excited, I get started, I see results, I get even more excited, I up the ante, I exercise even more… aaaaaaand then I get distracted.

Kick-starting fitness routines is my speciality, sticking with them is my downfall. But no more. Because recently, I decided to pick the brains of the most motivated and regular exercisers I know. And this is what I learned:

1. Choose exercise that requires your brain, as well as your brawn.

When you’re bored, you can’t help but focus on the fact you’re exercising (have you ever gone running while thinking inside your head, “I hate this, it hurts, I hate this, it hurts”?). That makes it so much harder.

Find exercise that stimulates your brain through learning, to distract yourself from the physical challenge you’re undertaking. Think Zumba, which stimulates your brain to remember and execute new moves. It doesn’t need to be difficult, but just engage your brain, as well as your body.

It doesn’t need to be difficult, but just engage your brain, as well as your body. Image via iStock.
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2. Treat yourself to fun and exercise gear. A new outfit is the definition of motivation.

Affordable and attractive exercise clothes are everywhere this year; especially brightly coloured, fun running shoes. Buying new gear is a great motivator because who doesn't like wearing a new outfit?

Related: New workout gear that will make you want to exercise.

3. Exercise with a friend (they don't even have to be human).

Keep on track by exercising with a friend, or commit to taking your dog (or a mate's dog) out for a walk once a week. You can motivate each other, as well as motivating yourselves. Making exercise social will mean you stick with it for much longer and really commit.

"Keep on track by exercising with a friend, or commit to taking your dog (or a mate's dog) out for a walk once a week." Image via iStock.

4. Figure out what your big barriers to getting started are and eliminate them.

Be frank with yourself and ask: What are the big barriers between me wanting to exercise and actually getting off the couch to do it? Do you go to sleep after midnight, meaning it is extra tough to get up in the morning?

Try going to bed earlier. Is the cold weather stopping you from heading outside? Then buy a small heater for your bedroom so it's easier to get out of bed, and make sure you've got warm, insulated running gear to wear.

Related: 8 ways to drag yourself out of bed to work out.

5. Pursue the strong, not the skinny.

Stop exercising because you want to be thinner or lose weight. If that's your sole motivation to move your body, then it's never going to work in the long term. No two women’s bodies are the same but whatever our size or shape, we can all strive to be the healthiest and fittest versions of ourselves.

Exercise because it's good for your health, good for your mind and good for the soul. Pursue the strong over the skinny.

"Exercise because it's good for your health, good for your mind and good for the soul. Pursue the strong over the skinny." Image via iStock.
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6. Sign up to group activities that will keep you honest (but avoid quick fixes).

Group activities are a great way to keep yourself honest. Jump online and see what's available in your area (if you're in Victoria, try VicHealth's 'Team Up' app). You'll be surprised by how many options there are. But whatever you do - avoid 'quick fixes' like short term training intensives - instead choose lasting exercise options.

7. Music is key to movement but if that doesn't do it for you: Get podcasting.

Hitting the gym without a decent playlist is a big mistake - you're just setting yourself up to leave before the workout is complete. To mix things up, switch between music and podcasts every so often, and entertain and inform yourself while you train.

"To mix things up, switch between music and podcasts every so often, and entertain and inform yourself while you train." Image via iStock.

8. Remember that you'll never, ever regret going. But you will regret not going.

Whenever you're tempted to skip out on your workout plans, remember this: You will regret it later and be mad at yourself for not making the effort. But - if you head outside, open up those lungs, drink in the fresh air and get those arms and legs moving? That is something you'll never regret, plus the endorphins will keep you going all day.

How do you keep motivated?

Here are some super fit celebs and their chosen path to health and fitness...

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