Everyone is bound to get into an exercise rut. You’ll skip a workout and blame it on vacation, a nagging cold, or a hectic work schedule. Or, maybe you’re stuck in a vicious spiral of negative body image and talked your way out of working out. But that’s no reason to give up on yourself or your health. Here are a few techniques I teach clients to help give them more motivation to exercise!
1) Implementation Intentions
Believe it or not, most people don’t wake in the morning ready to kick ass and take names! So, having a plan of action is essential: writing out what you will do, when you will do it, and where you will do it — AKA an implementation intention. You can go right down to what clothes you will wear and have them set aside somewhere. Plan for setbacks with an “IF—THEN” format. For example, IF I am held up at work, THEN I will do a 10-minute interval routine on YouTube instead of going to the gym.
2) Intrinsic Motivation
There are times you will need willpower; there’s no getting around that. But make it easy on yourself. Don’t take up jogging if you hate to run. So you don’t want to go to the gym today….that’s ok! Stay active and do something fun. Consider grabbing a friend and taking a spin or yoga class together. Take a jog around the lake with your dogs, hike the trails, go for a swim, or ride your bike around the neighborhood. Working out doesn’t have to mean treadmills and dumbbells. Think activity, not exercise.
3) Chunk down
Start with a straightforward routine. On week one, walk for 30 minutes on three different days. Just leave your house, walk for 15 minutes, then walk back. That’s it. The next week, swap out one walk for 10-minutes of cardio at home. Week three, look into more intense activities you enjoy. If you enjoy riding your bike, try a spin class! If you don’t enjoy certain healthy activities, try them with a friend and see if the companionship helps. Focus on making small changes and gradual changes every week. Try not to put immense pressure on yourself to make BIG changes all at once.
4) Embrace Your Body
As great as it is to find inspiration and support on Facebook and Instagram, seeing photos and status updates can trigger unhealthy thoughts or comparisons. Lift to sculpt ‘your’ body, not to look like someone else! Setting unrealistic expectations will only limit your fitness potential. Weight training can’t change your God-given body type, but it can maximize your genetics and help define and sculpt your shape.
That doesn’t mean you can’t become the healthiest, most functional, best version of yourself. A healthy and functional body is beautiful. However, certain body types are impossible for most of us to achieve. Pick a realistic role model or a realistic fitness goal to inspire you along the way. Sure, there will be trials, but hard work, dedication, and consistency will win out. Embrace the body you have!
5) Quit the Negative Self-Talk
Scientific studies show us the influence of the mind. Success starts in-between your ears. Your thoughts are powerful, and the words you speak are even more powerful! So quit the negative self-talk! You’re harder on yourself than anyone else in your life. But it’s time to re-frame those negative thoughts. If you slipped up and had a donut for breakfast, don’t think, “I’m a failure.” Acknowledge that while you may have gone off course today, you will do better tomorrow.
I LOVE this quote: “Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Choose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
6) Create Positive Social Connections
I still remember sitting in church at the age of 16 and hearing our pastor say, “show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” That has always stuck with me. While that is not 100% absolute, there is A LOT of truth to this. Especially if finding motivation is a struggle for you. It’s easy to ‘become’ just like those who you associate with, and this is particularly true when it comes to diet and exercise.
Connect yourself with people who are going to help you make healthy choices. Whether you’re a member of a running group, a CrossFit box or a yoga tribe, working out with a friend or a group of like-minded people has the benefit of making exercise infinitely more fun. Let their attitudes rub off on you. Talking to your partner, a friend, co-worker or family member about your goals will make you more likely to follow through. You’ll also have a friendly ear to share your progress and your struggles.