Before becoming the hotshot coach and personal trainer that I am now, I was a regular boot camper.  My trainer there used to often say something that ended up transforming my approach to fitness, and helped me make real progress toward my fitness goals.

Every week we showed up and she motivated us to work our tails off.  We worked hard for 2 hours in class to please her and impress each other.

But Here’s the Problem

Our trainer got in the habit of saying this line to us: “I only have you 2 hours a week.”

In other words, it’s the 166 hours of the week that’s going to make or break whatever you’re looking to achieve– not the 2 hours of class, or sessions with your trainer.

But how do you stay motivated when your personal trainer isn’t there to keep you motivated?

Now as a personal trainer, I understand my trainer’s feelings.

The 2 hours a week (more or less) that I work with my clients will certainly help them build muscle, increase their endurance, and improve their health, but I try to instill in them (without being pushy!) that it is the other 166 hours of the week that is going to make or break whatever it is they are looking to achieve.

So What Should You Do?

So what should someone be doing the other 166 hours of the week (or 165, 163, you get the idea)?  Move regularly. Eat well.  As I have talked about here, moving regularly throughout the day is key to keeping weight down and staying healthy, and of course you can’t out-exercise a poor diet.  But how do you stay motivated to do these things when there isn’t a trainer pushing you?

Finding ways to make being active more enjoyable will help keep you motivated– invite your friends!

First of all, check your expectations.  If you expect that working out 2-5 hours a week, while living the rest of your life the way you always have, is going to result in major changes, you need to recognize that that is unrealistic.  There are too many other hours in a week that can be spent sedentary, and a trainer can’t control every bite you eat (unless of course you want that!).

Second, understand and embrace your goals.  And I am not talking “I want to lose weight”, “I want to get stronger” or “I want to be healthy”.  Your true goal is based in your WHY.  Why do you want to lose weight, get stronger, be healthier?  For whom?  What do you want to be able to do?  Be able to play with your kids, or live longer to see your grandkids grow?  Having a deeper understanding of why you want to accomplish what you want to accomplish will help you keep focused on what needs to be done to obtain it.

Finally, look for immediate goals or wins you can focus on day by day, or effects you know you want to avoid.  Long term goals such as “I want to lose 15 pounds in six months” may not be motivating enough to keep you going when you are tired, the weather is bad, or you just really want some fast food.  But being able to say “I know I will have more energy for the rest of my day if I go take my walk”, or “I know I will feel crappy if I eat McDonald’s” will help you when the struggle is immediate, but the goal is so far off.  We humans have a tendency to choose the short term satisfaction over the long term goals, so reworking your short term mindset will help you reach the long term.

Building habits that require willpower to follow will only get you so far.  Understanding why you want what you want, and looking for ways to reinforce the changes day in and day out will help you achieve your goals… someday (don’t forget patience—have lots of patience).