Motivating yourself to do healthy things is hard. Our natural inclination is to lay on the couch and exert as little energy as possible. Doing nothing is easy, but the results can be devastating. More illness, a lower quality of life and ultimately a shorter life span.
You have to fight back. It’s important to find ways of motivating yourself that can overcome your desire to do nothing. Here are six methods I use with my clients. Decide which one (or ones) can help you get up, get out and start making the changes you need.
• Gamify your workouts. Treat them like a contest or a series of challenges. Give yourself points or badges based on meeting specific goals. You might start with five points for getting ready, add five more points for starting to exercise and 10 points for completing a session.
Collect points to give yourself rewards. One of my friends allows herself to go to a movie every time she hits 500 points. You could use points to reward yourself with television or give yourself more time to spend on social media.
If you’re competing against someone else, make sure it’s a win-win situation. Use points as a way to give rewards, rather than a system to punish those who haven’t done as well.
• Start temptation bundling. That means combining exercise with something else you want to do. One of my fellow trainers selects a TV series she enjoys and makes it her exclusive cardio show. She builds a weekly schedule of cardio and episodes to watch. The only time she watches is when she’s moving her body. Instead of dreading her run, she’s excited to find out what the next episode will bring.
• Pair exercise with things you have to do. After you brush your teeth in the morning, drop to the ground and do some push-ups. Before you start a meal, take a five-minute walk. Jump rope for three minutes before you check your email. By always combining a healthy activity, with something you have to do, exercise becomes an extension of your normal routine.
• Set smaller goals. If you have to lose 50 pounds, it can be tough to think about that number. So don’t think about it. Set a goal of losing three pounds over the next month. Put together a plan to do just enough, so that at the end of the month you can celebrate.
Repeat that same strategy over and over again. As you achieve success with one goal, build on that by adding small goals into other areas of your life.
• Tell yourself why you’re doing something. Don’t just accept that going to the gym is good for you. Remind yourself that today’s workout will help reduce stress and make you stronger for tomorrow.
Write out the reasons you’re taking healthy steps and carry those reminders around with you. When you think about the longer-term implications of your actions, you’re less likely to skip it if you’re having an off day.
Focus on things like increased strength or greater flexibility rather than appearance. People who did things to improve their look, tended to be less satisfied than people who focused on improving strength and health. You know you’re improving when you have more energy or you’re in a better mood.
• Introduce novelty. The same workout every day will eventually quit challenging your body. As our muscles adapt, they quit growing. It can also get boring. Switch gears and give yourself new challenges. If you’ve always used the elliptical, try a treadmill, rowing machine or jumping jacks. If you only use machines, learn some free weight exercises.
Change things up to stay interested and keep improving. Once the new exercise becomes routine, switch back to a former program and start feeling challenged all over again.
Pick one of these motivational strategies and start applying it to your life. If it doesn’t work, try another until you succeed.
CAUTION: Before beginning any workout program check with your doctor first. For a FREE consultation with a WeBeFit Trainer call (305) 296-3434. Read our articles online at http://www.webefit.com and get updates by liking us on Facebook.