Let’s face it, it’s hard to stay motivated. Whether it’s working, cooking, or cleaning, motivation plays a huge role in our ability to persevere with, and succeed in, our day-to-day goals. But sometimes our will to work can falter, especially when it comes to exercise, and an evening on the sofa can all too easily win out over an hour at gym.
Fortunately we’re not alone in our struggles. As it turns out, in fact, some of the best thinkers in the world have turned their mighty minds to this problem. The result? A wide variety of perspectives and ideas that help to illuminate the mysteries of motivation, wellness, and commitment.
Here, then, are some of those ideas. Presented at various TED conferences, these endearing talks will help you stay motivated and inspired to stick at the gym!
Emily Balcetis: Why some people find exercise harder than others
In this informative talk, social psychologist Emily Balcetis discusses the idea that what we see (literally) can affect how we perceive diet and exercise.
Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days
For anyone who’s tried and failed to start up a new exercise regime, Matt Cutts offers a reassuring message. Simply put, just commit to try something new for 30 days. Whether it’s running, swimming, or boxing. It’s a small task in the grand scheme of things, but those 30 days might be all it takes to form a new habit and make it stick.
Carol Dweck: The power of believing you can improve
The “growth mindset” (Dweck’s area of research), is the idea that we can increase our brain’s capacity to learn and solve problems. Her talk is based around the two different attitudes we tend to take towards difficult tasks. The first is believing that we’re not smart enough to solve them, and the second is believing that we just don’t know how to solve them.
The idea is that, even in the wake of failure, our brains have the capacity to grow and overcome former obstacles. It’s a powerful message to carry with us when we exercise, especially if we engage in competitive sports.
Laura Vanderkam: How to gain control of your free time
A perceived lack of free time can play a huge part in our struggle to commit to a regular exercise routine. On top of our professional, social, and family commitments, many of us feel that we simply don’t have the time to go to the gym.
Laura Vanderkam, a time management expert, thinks we’ve got it all wrong. She believes that most of us overestimate our commitments, believing that we have far less free time than we actually do. The solution? Set ourselves non-negotiable priorities and commit to them.
Mick Cornett: How an obese town lost one million pounds
In this talk, Mick Cornett tells the story of how Oklahoma City, once one of the most obese towns in America, managed to lift itself by its bootstraps and lose a collective million pounds. And though it may be slightly higher than your personal weight loss goals, this feat of communal commitment to healthy living serves as a powerful motivator. After all, if an entire town can do it, anyone can!
Dean Ornish: You genes are not your fate
Just as the title of this talk suggests, Dean Ornish lays out an argument that our health and wellbeing isn’t necessarily dictated by our genes. On the contrary, he claims that by eating healthier, exercising more, and living better, we can actually alter ourselves right down at the genetic level.
Christopher McDougall: Are we born to run?
Running s a fitness phenomenon. Seemingly ingrained in our DNA, the urge to run is deep and old in humans. In this talk, Christopher McDougall shares stories of runners, and running cultures, from all around the world, exploring the mysterious heart of this long-enduring sport.
Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation
According to career analyst Dan Pink, the traditional reward system, contrary to popular belief, isn’t always an entirely effective motivator. Here he examines the bare bones of motivation. And though it may seem business-oriented, there are a lot of ideas here that can be applied to health, wellbeing, and fitness.
Diana Nyad: Never, ever give up
Diana Nyad swam 100 miles from Cuba to Florida. In the dark of the night. Enduring hallucinations and jellyfish stings. For pure marvel and motivation, this talk is a gem. And it teaches us that it’s never too late to follow our dreams.
Lots of things have changed in 2020. From how we shop to how to we socialise, many aspects of our daily lives have been completely transformed.
The health and fitness industry is one that has undergone enormous changes over the last year, and one thing that may continue to transform well into 2021 is how we keep fit and workout.
So, reflecting on this, we thought we’d share 4 fitness trends to watch out for in 2021!
Albeit due to necessity, online fitness has boomed in 2020, and it’s unlikely that the trend will stop anytime soon.
Virtual fitness classes are now a staple of many gyms. And with countless fitness apps, subscription services, and YouTube channels, the digital wellness world is only set to expand.
So 2021 might yet be the year of virtual fitness!
On the back of virtual fitness comes, naturally, the rise of home gyms. We’ve written on the subject of home gyms previously, as they’re an excellent idea for people who like to exercise in private.
But with all that’s happened over the last year, the concept a home gym has likely gained a bit of momentum due to its affordability and practicality. And as 2021 progresses, we might see home gyms becoming permanent fixtures in households up and down the country.
But one strategy that many individuals have employed in response to these more uncertain and stressful times is to actively look after their mental health. Meditation, yoga, and mindfulness are just a few examples of exercises that are gaining more popularity due to their relaxing and stress-reducing qualities.
The trend towards mindfulness, stress-management, and emotional wellbeing is likely to continue well into the new year, as more and more people discover the life-changing effects of strengthening their mind-body connection.
Last week we posted a list of 4 great fitness gadgets to enhance your workouts, and it might have been a rather timely article. This is because wearable technology and fitness gadgets will very probably continue to grow in popularity as the new year unfolds.
Smart technology can seriously enhance your fitness regime. And whatever your goals, it’s likely that there’s a piece of tech out there dedicated to helping you achieve them.
People are becoming much more concerned with metrics and measurements, and there’s an increasing trend towards progress tracking and health monitoring. Smart technology, particularly the kind that you can wear (think smart watches), is designed to make your workouts more engaging, precise, and rewarding.
And just as the technology is constantly being refined and improved, so too is it becoming more accessible and popular.
It’s a new year, and that means resolutions. Those solemn vows we take in order to get fit, get healthy, and shed bad habits. But one of the problems with resolutions is our tendency to become overly self-critical as we work towards fulfilling them.
Most of us, when dieting or embarking on new fitness regimes, opt for the black-and-white approach of success vs failure. We create punishing routines, and any deviation from our proposed path of progress results in endless loops of self-criticism and disappointment.
But this approach isn’t really helpful, and it certainly isn’t optimal. According to Laurie Santos — Professor of Psychology at Yale University, and host of the Happiness Lab podcast — the best way to kick bad habits and make real progress on our goals is to simply be kind to ourselves.
By using self-compassion instead of self-loathing, we can gently encourage ourselves back on track rather than ruminating on our perceived failures.
It’s not to say that self-criticism is bad. It’s no bad thing, for example, to feel guilty when we do something that’s objectively wrong, because guilt can help us learn from our mistakes. But it’s when we internalise the criticism, and direct it towards our actual being and personality, that it becomes a problem.
Believing you’re an inherently bad person because you ate a mince pie when you were supposed to be dieting isn’t going to do you any favours. Those kind of beliefs fill us with shame and can be severely demotivating. A better approach is to be understanding and forgiving, just as you would be towards a friend or family member. We’re all human, after all, and humans aren’t perfect.
The problem with the way most of us approach our goals, and especially our new year’s resolutions, is that we measure our progress based on self-esteem, which arises out of opinions and beliefs. Butself-esteem is contingent on success. Which means that when we experience a failure or setback, our self-esteem crashes and we immediately feel bad about ourselves.
Self-compassion, on the other hand, isn’t contingent on anything. It doesn’t require success in order to function. It’s just about being kind to yourself, no matter what the result.
But that’s not the same as positive thinking. It’s not the unrelenting insistence that we’re amazing despite our shortcomings. It’s simply accepting our own humanness, and cultivating a feeling of kindness towards ourselves and our efforts.
It’s also important to remember that when we set intentions and make resolutions it’s usually because we want to improve some aspect of our lives. And the desire to improve and better ourselves should be celebrated, not berated.
So this year, try practising more self-compassion. Don’t be angry at yourself if you fall short of your goals. Or if your progress is slower than you’d hoped. Be thankful to yourself for putting in the effort, and encourage yourself to keep going — just as you would encourage anyone else.
We live in a time of unprecedented connectivity and technological advancement, and as the innovations keep coming we’re seeing technology merge with our lives on a deeper and ever more personal level.
And whilst this may rouse suspicion in some, it certainly can’t be denied that in many areas technology can stand to seriously improve our productivity, progress, and wellbeing.
The fitness industry is one which has seen an explosion in smart technology, with new apps and devices constantly emerging. So no matter what benefit you’re seeking, chances are there’s a smart product out there for you – regardless of how niche it may seem.
But on a more simplistic and general level, there are certain gadgets that are more universal and can be adapted to almost any fitness regime or health goal. So for a brief overview, we thought we’d share 4 fitness gadgets that almost anyone could find useful!
Note: none of the links in this article are affiliated, and we don’t get paid to advertise or promote these products.
FitBit – the well-known and well-loved smartwatch that’s been a go-to for fitness fanatics for years. Adding a FitBit to your collection of workout gear is a great idea for anyone who likes to stay organised, keep motivated, and track their progress.
There are lots of features in these watches (more or less depending on the model you go for), and there really is an option for everybody. From sleep tracking and heart rate monitoring to stress management and breath rate measurement.
For anyone looking to digitise their exercise regime and upgrade to a smart lifestyle, smartwatches are an absolute must, and a FitBit is always a safe option.
A home gym in a portable cube? Sounds suitably futuristic to us.
The FITT Cube is a very interesting fitness tool. Providing cardio, strength, flexibility, endurance and power training, and boasting over 100 individual exercises to target every muscle in the body, all in a cube that’s less than 50cm tall.
It’s built from steel, so offers peace of mind in terms of durability. And it comes with some impressive extras including custom resistance bands and an exercise chart.
The FIIT Cube seems perfectly suited to those confined to smaller spaces, or anyone who simply enjoys performing full-body workouts at home.
It’s innovative, well-designed, and relatively discreet. All-in-all, something not to be overlooked by the gadget-conscious gym buff.
Now, we’ve all got a set of basic weighing scales lying around the house somewhere (usually tucked away behind the bathroom door where they’re easy to forget about). But when it comes to serious health and fitness progress monitoring, sometimes a run-of-the-mill scale just doesn’t do the job.
This is where smart scales come in. In addition to showing your weight, smart scales take a plethora of other measurements, including BMI, body fat, bone mass, and muscle mass. The exact metrics covered will vary from scale to scale, but most of them come with Android and iOS apps for smartphone pairing, and with the level of detail and depth they provide, they can really help take your fitness to the next level.
And with certain models starting at £34.99, budget doesn’t have to be an issue.
To browse through a selection of top-rated smart scales, see here.
Because what workout is complete without music? In fact, for many people music is an absolutely essential component of their exercise routines, providing motivation and an extra layer of enjoyment.
But we’ve all experienced the less-than-ideal scenario of our arms getting caught in earphone wires, painfully tugging the buds out of our ears…
Though a good pair of wireless earphones might prove most valuable to runners, they’re still an excellent addition to any tech-savvy workout kit.
But it’s important to know what you’re getting. After all, what would be worse than buying a pair of wireless earbuds only to lose one during your first run? This is where the true workout-friendly models come in — earphones specifically designed with running, jumping, and spinning in mind.
For a more in-depth breakdown of different wireless earphone models and their various strengths, take a look at this article.
With a second nation-wide lockdown now underway, many of us are once again focussing on how to stay fit, healthy, and happy whilst confined to our homes.
And whilst some people have always preferred home-based exercise regimes, others don’t find it quite as easy to stay motivated and positive inside their own four walls.
So for anyone out there struggling to hit the home gym, we’ve got a few tips to help keep you motivated and energised, no matter if you’re working out from your bedroom, kitchen, or bathroom…
Commit to live-stream classes
Coronavirus or not, the internet offers a plethora of live online exercise classes to replicate the experience of being in a studio or gym.
One of the major benefits to live-stream classes is that they provide us with a routine and a sense of accountability and commitment. It’s easy enough to put-off pre-recorded workout videos and tell ourselves “I’ll get around to that later”, but with a scheduled live class (that you may have also paid for) it’s not so easy.
After all, it takes a much stronger excuse to skip a class than a YouTube video.
Of course, it’s all about the goals. But the key to keeping motivated at home is to go easy on ourselves.
At times it can be a real challenge to keep our spirits up and push ourselves to exercise when we’re stuck in the house. For many of us, our homes simply don’t serve as a conducive environment to working out. But setting small goals can really make a big difference to our overall efforts and attitudes.
It might simply be to take part in one live-stream class every other day. Or maybe one of your goals could be to follow along with a short workout video every morning after waking up.
Whatever they are, our goals should be challenging, but they should also feel achievable enough that we’re actually motivated to pursue them.
Maybe, in the end, when you’re stuck at home and aren’t able to go to the gym, you’re exercise routine might become a little less intense. Because it’s not always as easy to workout for hours at a time when the only place you can do it is your bedroom.
But by being kind to ourselves, and by being a little more flexible with our expectations and desires, we can still keep fit and feel great no matter where we are.
So if your normal routine involves treadmills and rowing machines, but you don’t have those things at home, then allow yourself some wiggle room and come to feel ok with chasing some new goals for a while.
Get the right gear
That said, whilst we don’t all have room for treadmills and stationary bikes at home, there are lots of bits and pieces we can get hold of to make our houses more gym-like.
Things like dumbbells, yoga mats, and skipping ropes can really help to liven things up and keep our workouts from getting too repetitive. They also won’t take up too much room and, more importantly, won’t break the bank.
If you’re interested in this side of things, then we’ve got a separate post dedicated to setting up a budget home gym which you can read here.
Try something new
When our regular routines are shaken and disturbed, we’re faced with a rare and exciting opportunity to try something completely new.
As we all know, old habits die hard, and when it comes to exercise it’s very easy to get locked into a routine. And though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that (in fact, in many cases it’s a good thing), in times of turbulence we can use the chaos and uncertainty to our advantage by diving into something new.
Always wanted to try yoga but were too afraid to join a class? Ever fancied an early morning HIIT session but could never make it to the class on time? Now’s the time to do it!
Often when we try new things we tend to put less pressure on ourselves to perform. Which means there’s fantastic scope for fun and enjoyment in being a beginner.
Who knows. Online dance classes might become your new obsession.
For many people, whether it’s due to finances or time restraints, getting along to physical yoga classes isn’t always an option. And when that’s the case, there’s no better place to turn than the endless educational resource that is the internet.
In recent years yoga channels have become enormous on video sharing platforms such as YouTube, with the current most popular channel (Yoga With Adriene) boasting a huge 8.3 million-strongsubscriber base (at the time of writing).
But what the incredible popularity of the genre also means is that the variety of yoga videos to choose from is seemingly infinite. And with so much choice, it really is difficult to narrow down the selection.
Well, in a hopeful attempt to solve that problem, we went with the age-old strategy of simply settling with the most popular. So here, presented in order of most-to-least views, are the current most popular yoga workout videos on YouTube.