9 Strategies for Mastering Motivation
SUMMARY: When you want to get in shape, don’t turn to someone who’s always loved working out. Instead, turn to someone who hated it but found a way to do it anyway. Like today’s guest poster, Susan Olding, award-winning writer and part of the Precision Nutrition team. A former exercise-hater, Susan dropped 30 pounds and can now be found working out 4-5 days a week.
It's March, and do any of us remember our New Year's resolutions?
Sure, you'd still like to lose those last ten pounds or be able to lift some extra weights, but somehow, with a storm raging outside, those six a.m. workouts don't sound so appealing.
What you need is a little motivation. So, you should talk to a fitness pro for some tips, right?
Maybe not. Why not?
Because fitness pros love exercise. They've always loved it, or they'd never have entered the field in the first place. And they still love it, or they wouldn't stay there.
So what do these fitness pros know about the powerful inertia you feel?
In reality, if you're serious about sticking to your fitness goals, the best person to talk to is not a gung ho fitness professional, but a die-hard exercise hater.
Somebody like me.
Before I joined Precision Nutrition's Lean Eating coaching program, I had never found a form of exercise - apart from walking - that I could honestly say I enjoyed. But with more than thirty pounds of fat to lose and a worrying case of hypertension, I knew I needed to act.
Six months later, I lost the weight I wanted to lose and I was a finalist in the program. Better yet, I'd made exercise a lifelong habit. Here's how.
STRATEGY #1: MAKE IT SOCIAL
If gym time becomes the time you get to see your friends, you'll automatically look forward to it.
Don't have any fit friends - or none who can work out when you do? No worries. Make friends with the people who run the place. Join a running or cycling or skiing club. Join a class. When others are expecting you to show up, you'll hold yourself more accountable.
STRATEGY #2: MAKE IT SOLITARY
While workouts can be great opportunities to socialize, you can also make them a precious zone of "alone" time.
Sometimes we just want to get away from the email, the ringing phones, the incessant demands. Turn your devices off and make your workouts a meditation.
STRATEGY #3: ENTERTAIN YOURSELF
If you're bored, you're less likely to want to work out. So challenge yourself to try something new.
Great at running, but have never liked to swim? Take lessons. Always had a yen to try speed-skating? Give it a whirl.
And don't neglect your mind and soul.
Most of us recognize the inspirational properties of a fantastic workout playlist. But have you ever listened to pod-casts or audio books?
Workouts can become your chance to catch up on the latest bestseller or to read that classic you've always been meaning to tackle. Pick a good enough book and you'll hardly be able to wait for the next workout - and the next chapter.
STRATEGY #4: ENCOURAGE YOURSELF
The surest way to stop yourself in your tracks is to berate yourself for your failures. Instead, if you slip up, just clean the slate.
Lousy workout? No problem. Congratulate yourself for showing up. You did something good for yourself. Own it.
Meanwhile, if you feel miserable when you're pounding the treadmill, try to re-frame your pain: That's your unwanted fat melting away.
Tell yourself that you're beating your diabetes, or erasing your risk of heart attack. Visualize the way you'll look and feel when you've lost that weight or won that race.
STRATEGY #5: SET GOALS AND ESTABLISH REWARDS
When we know what we are aiming for, we're far more likely to hit the target. So, whether your hoping to lose a set number of pounds or dead-lift a specific weight, set yourself some fitness goals.
While you're at it, make sure that some of these goals are behavior as opposed to outcome goals. What you do (go to the gym three mornings this week) is something you can control. What you can't control is the hoped-for result (lose two pounds).
Reward yourself for meeting behavior goals instead of outcome goals, and you'll start to feel more positive about going to the gym. And that, in turn, will reinforce the positive habit.
STRATEGY #6: TAKE THE NEXT POSITIVE ACTION
Feeling overwhelmed? Already "behind" with all your plans?
Relax. Break it down into bite-size chunks.
And whenever you feel anxious, ask yourself this question: If I can't make it to the gym today for a full workout, what can I do to move myself closer to where I want to be?
Got your answer? Then do it.
Just take the next positive action. Save your worries - if you need them - for later.
STRATEGY #7: FIND YOUR PURPOSE
It helps to have goals, but it's even more important to identify your purpose. Why do you want to lose weight? What makes you yearn to win that competition?
Maybe you want to be fit so you can climb that mountain. Maybe you want to look great for your wedding photos. Maybe you want to set a great example for your kids.
Figure out your deeper purpose. Once you understand your personal "why" it becomes easier to override or ignore the voice in your head that tells you how much you hate to exercise.
STRATEGY #8: JUST DO IT
Pssst. Here's a secret from a writer's desk. If you want to write, you can't always wait for inspiration. In fact, waiting for inspiration is a recipe for failing to write at all.
Workouts are just the same. Sometimes, you just won't want to. And guess what? You're not alone. Even serious athletes dread the gym some days.
The trick is to work out anyway. Tell yourself you'll go for "just one set."
If you're like most people, once you get there, "one set" will turn into two, and before you know it, you'll have finished the entire workout.
And you'll leave the gym feeling a whole lot more motivated than when you started.
STRATEGY #9: MAKE IT A CHOICE
In fact, you can look on exercise as a chore - a job to be done, just like the other mundane or even unpleasant jobs in your life. And sometimes that approach is just what's required to help you power through it.
Ultimately, though, if you want to make fitness a lifelong habit, you'll need to embrace it as a choice instead of a chore.
That means learning to see yourself as the kind of person who doesn't miss workouts. Learning to see yourself as "the healthy one."
It's not always easy. It often takes time. And it certainly takes a lot of practice.
But the day you feel that identity shift will be the day you'll have mastered motivation.
And you'll be fit for the gym - for life.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
If you'd like to learn more about losing fat, improving your health, and feeling better, here’s something you need to see.
Susan Olding and the Precision Nutrition team are offering two free 5-day video courses that show you how to get control of your eating and your health. To get started, simply click one of the links below:
In these free courses you’ll discover:
- The 5 things you need to know about nutrition.
- Exactly what foods to eat to lose fat -- at every meal.
- The best way to exercise to lose fat.
- Exactly how much time you need to exercise.
- How to make delicious meals with a few simple ingredients.
- Why you don't need supplements to lose fat.
- Which four supplements work the best, if you choose to use them.
- The one thing that separates those who lose fat and those who fail every time.
Until next time,
- John Berardi
Dr John Berardi is the director of the world's largest body transformation project. In the last 5 years, his team has helped over 15,000 clients lose more than 250,000 pounds of body fat. (That's more total weight loss than all 13 seasons of the Biggest Loser combined). For more on his one-of-a-kind program - Lean Eating Coaching - click here.