Losing Motivation to Workout? Here’s How to Create a Better (and fitter) System to Rely On

You’ve probably noticed how keeping yourself motivated feels like a struggle sometimes.

Some days you may not feel like putting in the effort, even when it’s continuing the habit of working out that you enjoy (mostly).

We only have so much energy in a day to spend, especially if your energy is tied up at your job, managing the household and getting taxed by life admin tasks.  A trip to the gym sounds like an unaffordable luxury? – we get it. In this post, we help you reassess and create a better (and fitter) system you can rely on, rather than solely relying on self-motivation. With the right system in place, it’s possible to find renewed energy and commitment on those days when allocating energy to work out seems next to impossible. If you want to skip straight to the worksheet mentioned, you can download that here.

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But First, Identify Why You Are Losing Motivation to Workout

Burnout and overtraining can zap all motivation to hit the gym again, and recovery becomes a foreign concept.  Another reason for losing motivation is the pursuit of perfection. You may be holding off on starting your healthy diet or workout routine until the perfect moment or searching for the ideal gym or personal trainer to feel completely secure. However, this kind of perfectionism often leads to procrastination. The longer you stay in this mindset, the more difficult it is to keep yourself motivated.

Like most problems, it’s essential to identify the root cause of your motivation slump, create a plan for overcoming it and change its course. Frankly, most of our problems come down to energy management. There’s a reason why you’ve been experiencing lower energy than before, even when it comes to doing the things that used to feel exciting. Over time, several small reasons contribute to a large deficit. Think of it as your ‘Energy Bank Account’ with a Daily Limit on-off toggle button. If you don’t have that Daily Limit toggled on, it’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve been spending over capacity. When the time comes to spend that energy on cultivating motivation for the days when you need that boost, you have zero in your bank account to do so.

(Re) Start with a small step:

One small thing you can do for yourself right now is to have a glimpse of your Energy Bank Account over the previous weeks and months. List them in a brain-dump fashion with little to no filters. You will then be able to visually see the contrast between expenses and deposits. This exercise is low-to-medium energy, depending on your current creative capacity. For low energy, you can use this worksheet that we’ve created just for creating fitter systems.

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Analyze Your Current Workout Plan and Make Adjustments to Keep Yourself Motivated

It’s time for a reality check. What are all of the things that used to work for you but are no longer working with your current life chapter? Things to consider are life events (like having children, job role change, and external environments), health issues and triggers. While they do not have a direct correlation to your workout routine, they do require different levels of energy investment and may have an influence on the energy budget you had planned for your workout plan. Yes, they are all connected.

Hitting a plateau with fitness goals can also affect how motivated we feel, and it’s common to start analyzing the sets and reps in your workout plan.  However, the biggest adjustment you can make is from looking at the whole picture.  That is, the 95% of the week out of the gym (assuming you train 5 hours a week). Sometimes our daily habits become the standard operating procedure.  We stop paying close attention to them, whether they are failing us or not.  As we age and go through life chapters, our needs and capacity also have to adapt. That means, some habits will have to go or they can change.

A Quick Check-In:

On page 3 of the Create a Fitter System Worksheet, you’ll fill out your Habit Scorecard. The scorecard exercise is inspired by James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. Which habit no longer aligns with your current energy profile? For example, weekly Friday night out with alcohol is starting to wear you out.  You want to keep your spirit lively but is your body keeping up? Would that mean you skip the usual Saturday morning high-intensity workout to have a lay-in? As both social and physical health is important to you, what are some other ways you can integrate both? We like the example from our Lean & Mean (semi-private personal training) members. They support each other in and out of the gym via group chats and meet up outside of the gym for ‘art & wine’.  Most effectively, they become each other’s motivation for staying on plan.

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The Surprising Thing about Motivation

It often comes after starting a new behaviour, not before.

You can look at your workout warm-up as a pre-game routine. Also known as a ritual, this practice makes it easier to start your habits and follow through consistently. This is because it provides a mindless way to initiate your behaviour, according to the research on habits.

Recently published in the Health Psychology Review by Benjamin Gardner, a researcher in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, this paper discusses using habits to start more extensive and complicated routines.

A ‘habitual’ bicycle commuter, for example, may automatically opt to use a bicycle rather than alternative transport (so automatically enacting the first behaviour in a superordinate ‘bicycle commuting’ sequence, such as putting on a cycle helmet), but negotiating the journey may require higher-level cognitive input.

Simply put, starting with a small action like wearing a helmet or ensuring proper air pressure in bike tires can facilitate the ability to carry out a larger task such as commuting. By concentrating on the small action, the next steps become more effortless. On page 4 of the Create a Fitter System Worksheet, break big habits down.  These small habits are to get you out the door and on your way to your group fitness class or your personal training studio.
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Keeping Yourself Motivated: What Next

When it comes to staying motivated to work out, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. That’s why you need to identify what works best for you and stick with it! It may take some trial and error as you fine-tune your system, that’s ok!  Trust us – It is worth the effort! It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be done. PS: don’t forget to celebrate the small wins along the way!

If part of your fitter system leads to the decision to work with a health coach or a personal trainer, you can start here. Our team of personal trainers and health coaches are trained in various specialities. We believe in a partnership approach to creating plans and systems that work for your lifestyle and health profile. You may read more about our team here and our philosophy on health & fitness coaching here.”