Overcoming the Mental Block: Some Tips to Get Back in the Fitness Game

In the hustle and bustle of life, it’s common to lose the motivation for fitness. I know it’s a massive struggle for me. If you’re like me, you know you should exercise, but you just can’t muster up the energy or motivation. There’s a little voice in your head telling you “You’re too tired,” or “You have better things to be doing.” Plus, we have to carve out time between work, marriage, and dad duties. Our physical health is just an easy thing to put on the back burner.

Exercise isn’t just about building muscles or shedding pounds though. It’s a powerful tool for your mental health. When you’re feeling low, anxious, or stressed, breaking a sweat can work wonders.

Rather than seeing it as another burden to add to the schedule, I challenge you to start looking at exercise as a method of self-improvement that can make you a better employee, husband, and dad. Let’s talk about getting back in the game, not just for the sake of physical health, but for your mental well-being too!

Why’s It So Tough to Stay Motivated?

Exercise is one of the best natural remedies for anxiety, depression, and stress. When you move your body, you release endorphins, those feel-good chemicals that can lift your mood and ease your worries. It gives your brain a dose of happiness.

Then, why is it so tough to stay motivated, especially as you age? As the years go by, your body changes. It takes longer to get in shape, and the pounds don’t fall off fast. Things ache a bit more than they used to. You don’t bounce back from a workout as quickly as you once did. I’m 40 now, and it takes way longer to recover than it used to. It’s natural, but it can be discouraging!

Then, there’s the time issue. It seems there are never enough hours in the day, and when you’re done doing all the mandatory jobs, all you want to do is slouch in the recliner and zone out for a while. While there’s nothing wrong with resting, getting in a cycle of sitting for hours every evening in front of mind-numbing screens is not in anyone’s best interest, especially when it comes to our mental health. Let’s see if we can do better.

Some Tips for Motivating Yourself…

Start Small

Your body might protest a bit more as you age, but that’s all the more reason to keep moving. However, exercise isn’t just about pushing your limits; it’s about respecting them too. Listen to your body, and find activities that work for you. Maybe it’s low-impact exercises like swimming or yoga. Perhaps it’s just taking a leisurely stroll through the park. Whatever it is, find what feels good for you, and work your way up.

Reflect on Your Why

Take a moment to reflect on why you started your fitness journey in the first place. Whether it is to feel healthier, look better, or improve your overall well-being, reconnecting with your initial motivations can reignite your passion for fitness. Take some time to visualize yourself reaching your fitness goals. Picture yourself feeling strong, healthy, and confident.

Set Realistic Goals

Sometimes, feeling unmotivated can stem from setting unrealistic or overly ambitious goals. Break down your long-term objectives into smaller, more manageable milestones. If you need to lose 20 pounds don’t expect that to come off all at once. It will take time. Set a goal to lose 1-2 lbs per week instead. Celebrate each small victory along the way to keep yourself motivated and focused on progress.

Find an Accountability Partner

Sharing your fitness journey with a friend or family member can drastically improve your results. Having someone to hold you accountable provides that extra push you need on days when motivation is lacking. Join a fitness community, follow inspiring individuals on social media, participate in group classes, or hire a personal trainer.

You can also just share your workouts with friends on Strava or Squaddy. Being in a supportive environment, whether with a real-life gym buddy or a digital one, can help keep you motivated and inspired.

Switch Up Your Routine

Doing the same workouts day in and day out can lead to boredom, muscle stress, and loss of motivation. Spice things up by trying new exercises. When all else fails, do a quick YouTube search for new routines. The videos are informational and usually easy to follow along with from the comfort of your home or office.

Find Something You Enjoy

Finding exercises that you genuinely enjoy is key to maintaining long-term motivation. When you engage in activities that you find enjoyable, exercise doesn’t feel like a chore. I do enjoy going to the gym and lifting weights, but I don’t love running on the treadmill for cardio.

So, I try and get my cardio from playing sports like basketball and racquetball. I also go hiking or running in a park. There are countless options to explore, so it’s essential to experiment and discover what resonates with you.

Focus on the Benefits

Instead of dwelling on the effort it takes to work out, shift your focus to the benefits you’ll reap from exercising. Remind yourself of how good you feel after a workout— the increased energy levels, and the relaxed state of mind. There’s “no gain without pain, right?” But…try to focus more on the gain part!

As your body starts to change, and your mind gets addicted to the endorphins of exercise, getting to the gym becomes easier and easier. In those first few weeks, make a pact with yourself to look for the small changes and celebrate them. Make a pact to keep with it until you see or feel a change. Once you do, the rest is a breeze!

Practice Self-Compassion

It’s important to remember that setbacks are a natural part of the journey. Be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up over a missed workout or a slip-up in your diet. Instead of dwelling on mistakes, focus on what you can do moving forward to stay on track. EVERYBODY screws up and falls off the wagon every now and again.

Just don’t fall prey to that little voice telling you that since you already ate a cookie, the whole day is blown, or that since you missed two days at the gym this week, you might as well wait until Monday to start your routine again. Instead, look for a healthy snack next time you go to the fridge and hit the gym tomorrow.

Let’s Get Motivated!

Trust me. I get it! I’m the world’s worst at making excuses and giving in to the doubts in my mind. It’s easier! It’s easier to sit on the couch and watch Netflix. However, when bedtime rolls around, I know I’ll be kicking myself for not making a better choice.

The hard truth is that we all have some time in the day to exercise, and that time is much better spent in the gym than scrolling TikTok or binging Hulu shows. While it feels better in the moment to stay on the couch, it gets me stuck in a cycle of guilt and self-disappointment every time, and I know I’m not the only one.

So, let’s drown out that little lazy voice, and get our butts off the couch! Our bodies, minds, and relationships will thank us for it later!

About Author
About Author

Ryan is a professional travel and relationship writer, originally out of Arkansas. Educated as a health and physical education teacher, he sold all his possessions, uprooted, and went on sabbatical in 2020 to go exploring! He's spent the last four years traveling the world, living and working in more than forty countries. At his side, is his wife of 19 years and fellow travel writer, Abby. Aside from being a sports fanatic and Jesus lover, he's uncle extraordinaire to 14 of the greatest creations on Earth. His passion is sharing cultural finds and encouraging men to experience a more fulfilling life by loving, serving, and understanding their partners better. Ryan is often published on Adventures From Scratch where he shares his relationship advice and family adventure tips, and on Let's Roam, where he details his travel experiences. You can find more from Ryan on he and his wife's YouTube Channel- LostAmongLocals.

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