When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Gold Stars: Mental Tricks to Help You Stay Motivated

There’s not a person alive who doesn’t love stickers… especially gold stars. Image: Pewari (Creative Commons)

Last week, we introduced you to Kathleen, who is embarking on a one-year mission to turn her health around through regular exercise and healthy eating. The beginning of a journey like this one is often the toughest part, so we were stoked when her latest progress report showed that she is absolutely crushing it on the fitness front. Here’s what she’s been up to so far: “Y’all!!!!! I’ve done 12 workouts and I’m still alive! That’s proof that all it takes is the first step to get going. I’ve done a few things to keep myself motivated and ensure I keep up with it and complete the workouts with the zest and gusto I started with.

Mental Tricks

  1. I call it a “workout” instead of “bootcamp.” Somehow that makes it seem easier. (Note: not actually easier.)
  2. When I’m tired, I count out the reps: “I can do six more.” “I can do five more.”
  3. Partner-up! Remember how I said I was really afraid of not having a workout partner? Well, everyone has been so accommodating and with each workout, I meet someone new, which is motivating.

Nerd Alert

I created a spreadsheet! A little back story: When I was little, the best thing for me was my star chart. I loved getting stars and points for doing chores around the house or getting good grades in school. This is a grown-up version of that chart. I made it myself, since asking your trainer for a star chart is a little weird. Here’s how it works: I get one point for attending my planned workouts. The expectation is 16 attendances every four weeks. I can get bonus points (!!!) if I attend Saturday workouts or do two-a-days, thus making it possible to earn above 100 percent for each month and for the year. I go ahead and write in when I have a conflict, so I know what I have to do to achieve the 100 percent. It looks like this: Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.00.47 PM


I have goals — real ones! They are:

January:  Perfect attendance at workouts
February: Stay on track, even with travel (prep workouts and have a strategy for eating/drinking well)
March: Do 10 perfect burpees*
*On Thursday I met with my trainer to discuss how in the world I’m ever going to do 10 perfect burpeess… because right now I can do zero. We broke it up into small bites to get me from what I can do now (jump up in the air and fall on the ground) to the perfect burpee (hands on the ground, jump feet back, do a push-up, jump feet in, jump up, and clap). When I do a real burpee, you all will get an animated GIF of it!
April: Run a mile in 15 minutes
May: Stay on track, even with travel
June: Jog/Walk to and from workouts (I live a mile away)

Feel free to ask me how I’m doing throughout the next few months. Accountability is a good thing… so are goals. That’s me in a nutshell (insert Austin Powers joke) these days. I cannot wait to see what the coming months bring!

WellATL columnist Kathleen Lorey won one year of fitness classes from FitWit (disclosure: WellATL’s publisher is president of FitWit) and will be documenting her 365-day journey to better health. If her column inspires you, motivates you, helps you see that you aren’t alone in whatever struggles you face, or just makes you want to cheer her on, it has done its job and we hope you’ll let her know or share your own experiences in the comments.