Linn Lowes shared her tips for staying motivated—and a reminder that it’s okay to take a day off when you need to.
When it comes to working out, everyone has that internal monologue that can either pump you up or completely kill your mojo. Right before going on a run or to a yoga class, odds are your inner voice is either saying Let’s freakin’ go or Ugh, I’d rather be doing anything else. Heck, maybe you’ve experienced both mindsets in the span of one day. Well, Swedish fitness influencer and cancer survivor, Linn Lowes is here to tell you that’s totally normal.
In an inspiring Instagram post, Lowes dished some real talk about motivation. Her first point: It’s totally fine if your motivation for training changes over time. In Lowes’ experience, she says her goals have focused on everything from weight loss to improving her glute strength. “I’m not regretting having any of these as motivation [because] they kept me going,” Lowes wrote in her post. “Not one single time have I regretted starting to train.”
When setting any type of goal, what’s most important is that your intentions are specific, said Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. “Goals such as ‘eat more healthfully,’ ‘exercise more,’ or ‘get more fun out of life’ are vague. Make it clear to yourself what you’re expecting from yourself,” Rubin explained. For instance, Lowes says that some of her past goals included doing chin-ups or running a 10k.
(Also read: Best Apps for Runners Seeking Motivation)
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Setting different goals and striving to achieve them has helped fuel Lowes’ journey, she wrote in her post. But she’s also reminding her 2.1 million followers that it’s okay if you wake up one day and just can’t do it. “Your motivation will come and go. And it’s ok to take days off!” she wrote. “Make sure you allow yourself to take a rest when you feel like it!”
Lowes is right, by the way. When you don’t get enough rest, it’s actually much harder to muster the motivation to crush your goals, said Daniel Fulford, Ph.D., an assistant professor and a clinical psychologist at Boston University. “Lack of sleep impacts your focus on a goal and reduces the supply of energy to the brain,” he explained. “Your mental stamina and effort decline, which reduces your performance.”
That being said, for the moments you are struggling to motivate, Lowes asks you to remember this: “You’ll never regret a workout,” she shared. “The endorphins will leave you happy, energetic, and motivated for your next sesh.” And if you’re not quite sure how to get the ball rolling, try doing workouts that truly challenge you. “When you train your body, you train your brain too, and it becomes more resistant to mental fatigue and wired to deal with things that take high levels of effort,” said Walter Staiano, Ph.D., the head of research at Sswitch, a neuro-performance company
It also helps to set smaller, more attainable goals versus those that can feel overbearing, Lowes wrote. David Gard, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, agrees: “Focusing too much on big goals can be more daunting; at some point, you may not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But with smaller goals, you constantly see progress, which is motivating,” Gard told us in a previous interview. For Lowes, performance-based goals like reaching a PR or mastering a difficult exercise seem to do the trick.
So as the holidays approach, remember that it’s not worth putting an obscene amount of pressure on yourself to get a workout in right this second—or even on January 1. Your goals will still be waiting for you when you’re ready. As Lowes says: “Be kind to yourself. Small progress is still progress.”