Using my knowledge of psychology and positive mindset training I have put together 10 tips to help you boost your motivation to exercise.
We all struggle with motivation at times whatever it is we are trying to achieve and this is certainly the case with exercising! We might be tired, had a really long day or it could be cold and miserable outside. The last thing on our minds then is going for a run!
The benefits of regular exercise are so significant, however, there is no doubt that it is worth the effort. Regularly working out not only improves physical health but also our mental health. Exercise releases serotonin in our brain and this is responsible for improving mood. So if you feel low exercise will work wonders.
So, how do you motivate yourself when it's the last thing you want to do?
I was always one of those people who never exercised.
Since leaving school I hadn't done regular exercise apart from walking my dogs. You would definitely never catch me in a gym!
Through my work as a Therapist and Mindset Coach I help people overcome some huge challenges and really turn their lives around. My clients smash their limiting beliefs on a regular basis so I wanted to challenge myself to do the same.
I wanted to become the sort of person who exercised most days and more importantly, actually wanted to. This was certainly no mean feat (as no challenge should be). I started slowly 3 years ago and now I exercise at least 4 times a week but often 7 because I love it! My fitness levels have drastically improved and I have lots of energy. I am now that exercise freak I wanted to be!
So, how do you find the motivation to get up off the sofa after a long day at work when all you want to do is go home and eat cheese?
1 - It's a question of belief
Our beliefs drive what we do, say, think and feel subconsciously. There is a belief behind most things we do, so what we believe is a vital part of motivation. What do you believe in terms of exercise? Write it down and actively challenge what is holding you back. Here are some common examples:
Belief: I really don't have time to exercise
Reality: Is that really likely? Is it true that you cant spare 15mins even if it's while tea is cooking or in your lunch hour? Is it that you don't have time or don't feel like it?
Belief: I wouldn't enjoy it
Reality: Physical exercise increases production of serotonin a natural anti depressant so you will naturally feel good!
Belief: It will be too hard
Reality: People who have serious disabilities exercise so what is really is too hard for you?
2 - What is your Why?
Write down somewhere on a card your reasons for keeping fit. Keep it in your wallet or stick to the fridge where you can see it. E.g
Look at this list when you don't feel like it to help give you a kick up the backside!
Extra tip: if you attach emotion to the reason it will work even better. We identify more readily with things that impact our emotions. So, listing 'I want to be able to run with my children' will have an even greater effect over your motivation.
3 - Visualise
Your Imagination is the most powerful part of your mind. If you don't achieve something it is because at some point you will have pictured yourself not doing it. Spend a few minutes visualising yourself doing the exercise, enjoying it and feeling great after and it will help motivate you. What you imagine you are more likely to achieve.
4 - Make a Pact
If you are struggling to motivate yourself alone then you can make a 'Ulysses Pact'. This is a means of binding yourself to something in the future. So by arranging to meet a friend at the gym you are binding yourself by social commitment and are likely to stick to it.
5 - Tip the Scales
We are benefit orientated and will subconsciously choose what feels better for us in the moment. We will weigh the decision up in our minds and often go for the option that provides instant gratification. So, certainly for the first few weeks, the urge to choose immediate rewards,such as sitting down and watching your favourite tv programme, instead of going for a run will overwhelmingly win over. To help you tip the scales in favour of choosing exercise you need to actively focus on the benefits of that choice.
Do this by focussing on your reasons for doing it and positively visualise how good you will feel after. The feeling of pride and pleasure you will feel will outweigh the sneaking guilt you will have if you don't.
6 - Small Steps
Don't expect to be able to run a marathon after one week or that you will have lost loads of weight, it is a gradual process to achieve your goal. Start small, 15 mins a day and that way you will feel like you are achieving straight away. If you expect to be able to run 10miles immediately you will feel bad when you fail. Set yourself up to achieve and make a plan. 15mins 3 times a week. Praise yourself for doing it and up your effort gradually.
7 Progress over Perfection
Forget about days where you couldn't motivate yourself. Don't dwell on them. Write it off and start again the next day. You won't be perfect but giving it your best is good enough! If you manage 4 days out of 7 don't focus on the days you didn't but instead be proud that you managed 4. It is better than none. If you feel like you are letting yourself down you will start to feel de-motivated.
Don't be Black and white with your thinking. We are never all or nothing. So just because you didn't one day it doesn't mean it's all over and there is no point in carrying on as you will never do it.
8 - Set Goals
This is a tried and tested way of maintaining focus. Set out a goal, be it losing a few pounds or being able to run non-stop for 10 minutes, ensuring it is small and achievable to start with. When you get there make sure you praise yourself, feel proud, then set the next one and keep going!
9 - Mind your Self Talk
Be consistently supportive of yourself. Watch out for negative or unhelpful self-talk. Be careful what language you are using. Are you saying to yourself 'I cant' or 'It's too hard' or 'I'm too tired'? Try swapping this for 'I can do it','It will feel really good' and 'I can challenge myself''
This will motivate you and keep you feeling positive.
10 - Keep Building
Be aware that motivation isn't stored in your mind as such, We need to generate it and maintain it with the way we are thinking. Knock down the hurdles you are likely to create.
Keep going and after a while you will feel so good you will acually miss exercise on your rest days and then you know you are smashing it!