Keeping motivated is the key factor, above everything else that determines whether or not we achieve the goals we desire. The idea of this post is to give you the knowledge needed to formulate a plan not for your lifting, dieting, etc, but your plan to achieve those plans (sounds strange, huh?). Sometimes, we simply aren’t interested enough in certain hobbies and completing those hobbies or goals will come easier to those that do. For us that are but can’t seem to muster up the willpower, there are many techniques to overcome these obstacles.
Let’s focus on Dopamine and Serotonin, your brains “feel good” chemicals that simulate reward, pleasure, and are highly responsible for motivation. As someone that has had his own battles with anxiety and depression and ADHD in general (or whatever you want to call that, since even I find most of those diagnosis to be untrue), I can speak from experience it is the worst feeling to once be extremely motivated and happy to complete a task or hobby, and to then find myself not able to even begin the task at all. This effects every aspect in life – work related goals, personal responsibilities, studying and school, etc. Optimizing your dopamine levels will promote your ability to have not only the focus to complete goals, but the confidence and correct chemicals in your brain promoting motivation, willpower, and confidence.
Boosting Dopamine can be done many ways that we don’t even know. You will receive a boost when you complete a small task, when you receive a reward, when you listen to music, etc. You may also boost it through diet and other lifestyle factors. Before we get deep into what you can do in order to revamp your motivation, convince yourself that these factors are IMPORTANT and must be put into place first and foremost:
Eating a well balanced diet with enough nutrients is important for brain function. Eating too many refined and processed foods WILL effect your brains ability to regulate dopamine and serotonin which, aside from your general passion for bodybuilding and lifting, will make it that much harder to get out of bed in the morning. Construct a diet with plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, a good multivitamin, vegetables and moderate amounts of fruits, nuts and almonds. You may also experiment with supplements such as L-Tyrosine, L-theanine, Rhodiola, and more.
We know that more sleep will produce more of these chemicals and keep our mind clear and motivated. Also, be sure to keep a routine and avoid late nights. Simply having a routine and following the routine, little by little releases dopamine that encourages the behavior more. “Streaking” (whether it be with days gone without a cheat meal, days gone where you haven’t missed cardio, etc) will also increase dopamine, further encouraging the behavior. Remind yourself that by doing this it will become easier and more pleasurable because of the adaptations and effects it’s causing your brain.
Working night shift is horrible for those that may be prone to depression, anxiety, and low motivation. I can tell you from experience and scientific evidence also backs a 42% increased risk of depression as well as an increased risk of other psychological and physical health effects. Having adequate vitamin d3 levels is important for overall health, especially mental health and the release of dopamine, which we get in very large, accessible amounts from sun exposure. On top of that, most night shift jobs or people that stay up late communicate with less people. Each time you have a positive interaction with someone, you release dopamine and serotonin. Staying up all night without interactions alone, again from experience, makes motivation drop significantly for EVERYTHING.
Environmental cues are essential when it comes to habit formation and motivation. A study conducted by the American Psychological Association discovered students who transferred to another college were more likely to change their daily habits than students that remained in the same place. We don’t have to know why or what in our environment is disrupting our motivation, but go for a change. Change where you live, the room you’re in, change gyms or go at different times. This alone could be the difference in your source of motivation and lighting the fire.
Set Small Goals:
Because dopamine can be released with even small tasks, begin to build it up by accomplishing extremely small tasks. When you wake up, make your bed. Remind yourself that it will benefit you with the release of dopamine. I usually begin cleaning since it is an easy way to see quick changes and accomplish something to give me that boost, further allowing me to pursue my other motivational goals that may have had me overwhelmed. Check off every day you went to the gym on the calendar, or how many times you did an extra set when you didn’t plan on it.
Motivational videos have become very popular, because they work. Visualizing yourself reaching your goals with encouragement and seeing others succeed in a very realistic manner will help you do so as well. If you’re not feeling like going to the gym or don’t feel like going in for leg day, search for some leg day motivational videos and visualize yourself as someone you idolize and coach yourself into believing there is no reason why you cannot be the same, or do the same.