Exercise is a dirty word in most people’s minds. It is associated with stress, hard work, sweat, dust and pain. For some folks, exercise is wonderful but they just can’t get themselves to stick to a routine long enough to see any results. If you recognize yourself in either of these scenarios, know that you are not alone. When it comes to maintaining an exercise routine, you are your own worst enemy. That sounds awful, but the up side is that you are the only one standing in your way so you can consciously choose to do things differently.
How do you think the successful exercisers do it? Are their genes different? Do they have super-powers? Nope, they’re regular people like you and me. The difference is that they know how to make use of simple tactics to get themselves to stick to their exercise routines. But their biggest trick is to that they get motivated and stay that way. That’s the hardest thing to do.
Motivating Yourself to Exercise More
None of the tricks that these people have in common are secrets or even news. They are tried and tested formulae for making anything work. So they don’t have to be limited to exercise alone. They can be tweaked for results in any other area of your life whether it’s work, a personal goal or a relationship. So let’s get right down to how you can motivate yourself to exercise more.
Dress for it
OK, this may not work for everyone but it will indeed work for most people, especially if you are particular about the way you look.
Victoria’s Secret models recently revealed that during their strenuous 9-week workout program before their annual runway show, they ensure that they are always dressed well. Supportive bra tops, spandex gym wear, colorful bodysuits all feature largely in their workout wardrobes. According to these undeniably-fit ladies and several other people who are successful at maintaining their long-term exercise goals, having the right clothes for a particular activity make it more enjoyable somehow. It may be because you know how great your shapely behind looks in those tights or how that top makes your bust look bigger than it is.
Small things these, but they get you more revved up about your exercise routine. Research has shown that a positive outlook makes for a more intensive exercise session. This eventually leads to better results which is in itself the best motivator.
So get out there and invest in an exercise wardrobe, even if it’s just a new pair of shorts or a cool pair of shoes. If you like what you have to wear when you have to do something, you’ll probably want to do that thing a lot more. Why do you think so many people like to party? Half the fun is in dressing up for it, right? It works the same way with exercise.
The reason most people have trouble sticking to an exercise plan is not because the exercise is hard but because they cannot get themselves to start in the first place. Whether you run, swim, do yoga or sweat it out in the gym, 90% of the hard work lies in getting yourself to begin that activity. Once started, the dopamine and adrenalin kicks in and you feel the positive effects of exercise within minutes.
One of the most effective ways to get yourself to start is to allot a fixed time for it. Say ‘OK, from 7 to 7: 30 today I’m going to go for a walk’, or a run or a swim or whatever. Give this appointment the consideration you would give any other important task. Don’t plan other things at that time, tell your family and friends you won’t be available then, tape your shows so you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself.
You may take awhile to adjust to the new schedule, but once you do it will become a fabulous habit which will come naturally to you.
Prepare for it
OK, so you’ve set up a great wardrobe for your exercise routine and you’ve even pencilled it in. Yet, you find that when it comes time to actually get to it, you go ‘meh, i don’t feel like it’. You make excuses, drag things out, suddenly remember that you have to take care of some inconsequential task like cleaning the fridge – in short, you’ll do anything to get out of exercising. Don’t be a victim to your own deviation tactics.
Ensure that you have everything you need ready for your workout so that you don’t have that extra time to make up those seriously lame excuses. If you schedule your workouts early in the morning, keep your workout gear ready when you go to bed the night before. Unlace your tennis shoes, keep a pair of socks out, lay your clothes out on the chair right near your bed so they are the first thing you see when you wake up. Fill up the water bottle you carry with you, pack your gym bag, roll up and bag your yoga mat.
If everything is ready, you are more likely to just get dressed and get to it. If you don’t prepare, you’ll be looking around for this or that and the more delayed you get the less likely you are to get to your workout that day. This may sound silly but it’s what most of us do. That’s where the saying comes from – ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’.
This is a motivating tool used by even the most seasoned athletes. Recording your progress (or your lack thereof) can reveal patterns of behaviour and thought that influence your exercise routine (and perhaps even other areas of your life). Keep a personal journal with not just your exercise schedule and how much you were able to do during your sessions but also how you felt before and after your workouts.
Maybe you can maintain a public blog or post your progress on a forum. This can sometimes be a big motivator if like-minded people are the target readers. They can push you and keep you going. Also, it’s harder to quit if a whole bunch of people are keeping tabs on you.
Remember why you’re doing it
Strip your exercise routine of its clothes, technicalities, schedules and all that other stuff for a minute. What’s left at the very core of it? What’s you reason for exercising and getting into shape? Is it a competition that you’re preparing for? Is it so that you have more energy to play with your kids? Do you just want to look better so you feel better? What is it that drove the thought of exercise into your head in the first place?
The motive for your exercise is the strongest motivation of them all. It’s not about the number of repetitions and which gym to join or how many notches you can tighten your belt. Your reason for exercising has something to do with you as a person, as a human being with a full life and with emotions connected to the various aspects of it. Which aspect are you hoping to change by losing weight, getting fit, or building muscle? Remember that reason every single day. Remember the emotion behind your motivation. And whenever you find yourself faltering, bring that one main motive behind your exercise to mind.
There are a few simple ways to remind yourself of your reason. Write it down on post-its and put them up where you’ll see them. Cut out pictures that symbolise your motives and carry those around with you. Put a reminder alarm on your cell phone which goes off two to three times a day. Tie a ribbon around your wrist with the intention of remembering your motives every time you look at it.
See, none of these tips seem mammoth in any way, right? They are all just little things here and there which will alter your way of approaching exercise and help you stick to your goals. Try them out and you’ll see a difference in your attitude in no time.