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6 Tips to Get Yourself Motivated for a Workout

By DR. KIM CHRONISTER

Struggling to find motivation to get back on your exercise regimen? When it comes to working out, many of us find it difficult to find motivation. Motivation is fuel. It drives us when it comes to starting and maintaining a fitness regimen.

Working out at a gym

The psychology of fitness motivation has been well researched, and there are proven methods that you can use to get yourself going. When put into practice, these tips can be highly effective. Read on for foolproof motivation techniques.

1. Visualize
Sport psychologists talk about visualization all the time, and athletes around the world use this technique for performance enhancement. The night before your workout, take 10 minutes to visualize your entire session in your mind. Imagine yourself getting up, working out (really go through the entire workout in your mind) and feeling energized and accomplished afterwards.

2. Have Fun
When it comes to exercise, people often underestimate the power of having fun. In fact, a recent study reveals that if you're not having fun and perceive your workout as work, you're more inclined to snack. Try dance classes or pick up a sport you used to love or have always wanted to try. Enjoying your workout improves the likelihood that you will be motivated for the long run.

3. Shop
It may be surprising to learn that taking a trip to the mall could have beneficial effects on your fitness motivation. A researcher coined the term "enclothed cognition," which essentially means that what you wear affects your performance.

Study results show that you'll perform better at a given task if you dress suitably for the task at hand. For example, dressing like a personal trainer or a professional cyclist (depending on what activity you choose) has the potential to greatly improve your exercise performance.

4. Focus on Strengths
It's important that you remain positive. Reframe negative thoughts (e.g., I'm not going to make it through this workout) to more positive thoughts (e.g., I've gotten through workouts before, and I always feel better after).

Reframing is a cognitive-behavioral technique that can help people become higher functioning in all areas of life. Self-talk has a powerful effect on your ability and motivation to perform. Focus your thoughts on strengths, such as how you made time for your workout or how you exercised even though you didn't feel like it.

5. Reward Yourself
Positive reinforcement can be an incredibly effective way to keep yourself on track. Frequent rewards throughout the process are well-deserved when starting and maintaining a fitness routine.

Give yourself rewards daily or weekly: Take a trip to the spa, use the steam room or get a massage to unwind. Short-term and long-term rewards are necessary. Plan a celebration one to three months in advance at which you can show off your results.

6. Be Consistent
We know from research that "feel good" chemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin are released in the brain when you exercise. But when you exercise consistently, new dopamine receptors are created in the motivation center of the brain. Exercising becomes a self-reinforcing behavior!

Use these tips and you'll find yourself more motivated than ever to stay on track with your fitness routine.

--Kim

Readers -- Do you have trouble staying motivated to exercise? How do you get yourself to work out when you don't feel like it? Do you reward yourself when you reach certain goals? What are some tips and tricks you use to motivate yourself? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Dr. Kim Chronister is an author, health psychologist and wellness expert. She has provided therapy to clients suffering from anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. She uses evidence-based interventions with clients struggling with binge-eating disorder, substance-use disorders, anxiety, depression and other disorders. She also utilizes motivational interviewing (MI) to help clients regain motivation to engage in physical activity to decrease stress, improve mood, lose weight and enhance overall life satisfaction.  

In addition to her clinical work, she is Departmental Chair for the Graduate Programs in Applied Sport Psychology/Professor at Wexford University.

 Dr. Chronister talked about weight loss, exercise motivation, relationships, obesity, eating disorders, lifestyle and other mental-health issues for respected magazines. Her passion for health as it relates to health psychology is evidenced in her book, The Psychology Behind Fitness Motivation: A Revolutionary New Program to Lose Weight and Stay Fit for Life. She emphasizes the importance of exercise on mood and overall well-being for individuals and couples. Her work has been featured in Women’s HealthA & U Magazine, The National Psychologist, Fitbie, MSN Lifestyle, among many others.

Connect with Dr. Chronister on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

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