I believe that for every single one of us, there’s a customised formula we can follow to secure a resolute 2016; that formula might differ from person to person, but through it all, inspiration is a vital ingredient, a constant across every human I’ve met. The new year is upon us which means a bunch of us will set personal goals to which we’re statistically unlikely to adhere. I’ve previously written about how to structure your fitness goals (HERE) and help ensure you stick to them – this is more of a deep-dive about the very sources from which you might like to draw inspiration in the first place. That process of motivational influence is something I regard as the fundamental building block of a solid year! I was thinking about what truly inspires me as I went for a run around London’s Embankment (in itself a motivational experience!); this post collects together my top 10 inspirational findings!
Essentially, inspiration breaks down into something which is either ‘internally’ or ‘externally’ sourced. Either I derive something from within that motivates me, or I look to someone or something else in order to seek it. Not exactly revolutionary; artists have been ‘borrowing enthusiasm’ from each others’ masterpieces through the ages, and there’s little difference between that and trawling through Instagram only to emerge with invigorated clarity of purpose and zeal! However, ahead of the annual goal-setting exercise, I thought I’d share my top 10 inspirational sources & procedures, in no particular order!
1) VISUALISATION – I recently created a ‘Goal Board’ (seen behind me in the picture above) which I’ve found of enormous help – I’m very much a visual person, and having a list works just as well. On this large whiteboard, you’ll find some of the things I hope to achieve this year both big and small; dreams which have now become targets for all visitors to see. This year, I will learn to drive. I’ll head to LA. I’ll aspire to work on some projects I’d love to get off the ground! I will re-design the FitnessOnToast blog website (after almost 3 years of v 1.0, it’s time for a little spruce-up!). I’ll strengthen and re-habilitate my knee (I had key-hole surgery a while ago and still haven’t fully recovered 100% utilisation); there are many other targets I’ve written for myself, as if its a menu of achievements! The board hangs in my blogging studio, and more-than-occasionally I’ll just look at it. Seeing this physical manifestation of achievements that need to be ticked-off massively helps me with motivation, as if that image becomes glued to the inside of my mind – I can instantly access it & am compelled to strive for it!
2) MUSIC – Confession time: I am an audiophile! Like many, I find music to be such an evocative force, it can bring me to tears of joy and then sorrow, and back to joy again within mere minutes. The eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed some serious music equipment in my blogging studio during my recent BLOGGING 101 post; my ears constantly crave high sound quality, and to that end, I’ve been using the Bose QC20 in-ear phones for over a year now (the ULTRA eagle eyed might even have spotted them in an early Instagram post of mine, HERE!) – I love the effortless noise cancellation, and the rendering of sound is quite literally as good as I’ve ever heard, throughout the entire register. The first time I tried them on, I knew I had to buy them, so that I could enjoy my favourite tunes in the best quality I’d ever experienced. However, working out in them is ill-advised as they have hulking great cables with a microphone swinging about, which means a treadmill is off limits, and they pester you on a bench. Bose have released a solution for me; the SoundLink Wireless Headphones II share that same delicious audio quality (though they aren’t noise-cancelling), have banished the wires thanks to foolproof bluetooth connectivity, have an integrated microphone, and dispatch a category-killing 15 hours of playtime! I’d literally just downloaded Adele’s new album in WAV for my run, and as expected, it sounded epic on them!
Having a huge array of diverse playlists to cycle through, consisting of new tunes, old favourites, up-tempo genres, and chill out standards – all of which enthuse and energise me, is a necessity. Training in a gym at 06:00 can at times feel lonely, but having someone wailing in my ear about their latest breakup in 4-part-harmony (wirelessly) is like having a good friend giving you that extra bit of drive! I’d recommend re-shuffling your playlists right now, to make sure you’re ready for the start of 2016!
3) PERSONAL EXPERIENCES – Whilst there are endless #Fitspo-related motivational quotes on social media, I find they can sometimes have a counterproductive effect. They tend to be generic, one-size-fits-all, and at times lack a genuine feeling. What inspires one person may put another off. In my professional years as a Personal Trainer I’ve trained a wide array of different characters; the common response to ‘Why now?’ is that ‘the summer’s coming and I want to lose some weight, tone up etc’. After you dig a little deeper, 99% of the time, a more personal medically-related motivation will appear – whether a relative or themselves – and the aesthetic goal takes second place! Draw upon those close to you in order to find renewed energy and tackle your targets like never before!
4) THE EMPERORS NEW CLOTHES – Without a doubt the most superficial of the 10 inspirational sources, but I find that putting on a new jacket, a fresh pair of leggings and a killer pair of trainers does make me look forward to hitting the road for a run or heading to the gym! Investing in a few new outfits, which don’t necessarily have to be bank-breaking purchases, can make all the difference between staying on track and falling off in the all-important first 3 weeks, when the habits for 2016 are definitively formed.
5) THE TECH BUBBLE – There are countless fitness apps out there. I continue to love MyFitnessPal for example – it really inspires me to stay on track. The knowledge and data it gives me motivates me to keep going. Pair this with my recently discovered Apple Watch (check out my review HERE), which has seamlessly integrated into my active lifestyle to provide me with accurate telemetry that helps me work out smarter. Knowing precisely how you’re getting on, being able to pinpoint it at any given moment, makes a big difference to my motivation, as it’s no longer just a big guess!
6) OTHER PEOPLE – The essence of external inspiration is of course Inspogram! I follow quite a few characters on Instagram who massively motivate me, whether they be girls with effortlessly elegant style like @Upcloseandstylish, globetrotting yogis such as @Sjanaelise, intrepid global accounts like the classic @Natgeo and seriously strong people – @TeeMajor (I still love watching THIS epic video before working out!)
7) BEAUTIFUL PLACES – Wherever you live, you’ll likely suffer from a little home-fatigue once in a while. I’m a Londoner, and sometimes, that’s a source of immense energy! Whether as in the photos here, waking early in the morning to watch the cloud-rise (or on those 3 days in the year, a sunrise) over London and admire the beautiful Thames, or whether it’s the lure of an impending beach holiday observing the gorgeous tropical environs… places can totally alter my mood, just by thinking about them. I visualize how I want my body to feel when skiing – strong, powerful and energetic. I want to be able to swim, and run along the beach and make the most of my surroundings. These thoughts compel me to just be active. Hard to explain, but it’s as if the surroundings, and even the thought of the surroundings just infuse you with renewed energy! The below picture will likely demonstrate better than my explanation!
8) ZEN PLACES – Perhaps this is unique to me, but when I go to a spa, not only do I feel recharged and revived, but it’s almost as if I’ve just purchased a new body. It’s like a full service and I’m ready to go. The cycles of sweating and rehydration combined with therapeutic scents, temperature variations in ice pools and saunas, treatments and herbal teas… it’s a half a day well spent in search of a new burst of energy. Once every month, this keeps me on track with my goals, ready to tackle them afresh!
9) A LITTLE FRIENDLY COMPETITION – whilst I’m all about encouragement, I love the feeling that I can lift heavy/heavier than the boys! Often this isn’t the case, but it’s certainly something to aim for! Training with someone who’s a little further ahead than me can often be a source of great energy, as they set an example that I’m keen to follow! Doing that regularly helps to engrain the practise in the mind, such that you rarely feel like slacking!
10) NEWNESS! Whether it be a flavour, a recipe or a restaurant, healthy does not mean bland & boring. Au contraire, my experience is that it can be extremely colourful, hugely varied and bursting with flavour! Buy a few recipes books and start experimenting! Just a simple salad can be expressed with hundreds of different permutations, rather than being an exercise in the mundane lettuce, tomato and cucumber! I find that by seeking my inner Michelin creationist, I can whip up some unusual and engaging salads which keep me on track whilst keeping me sane! This point is one of the more important ones, as 3-6 months into your new year, the goals might look pretty tired and outmoded – as if they were from some different era. Newness is the spice of life, which is why champion retailers like Zara and H&M change their product lineups multiple times every month! Mixing it up keeps us on track, and I’m convinced that’s the case with all things fitness-related too!
That’s all the musing I can rustle up for now, but more to follow 🙂
P.s. Roller disco is awesome cardio 🙂