Getting regular exercise will always require a good measure of discipline even after you have established a healthy habit. But the key to attaining your goals for better health and fitness through regular exercise lies in finding that deep internal motivator that will press your efforts when your feelings aren’t on point.
Your goals for better health and fitness will always be a strong motivator at the onset of your path to better health. But as the weeks and months go by, it is easy to lose sight of what we are doing and begin to question if all this effort is worth it. Those that succeed are those that infuse their carefully chosen exercise routines with a plan to keep their hearts and minds in the right direction.
Just like your choice of exercise should set you up for positive progress, your plan for motivation should be aligned to your needs specifically. In the following article, we will take a look at a few strategies for finding fitness motivation. Try giving these tips a try to see how they fit.
Maximize your Rewards
The reason extrinsic rewards are so effective is that they give the mind something to reach out and grasp. In the thick of doubt and indecision, that focal point can provide justification for the difficult and sometimes tedious strains of an exercise routine. Once the mind has been convinced, the body follows suit and efforts are no longer tedious, but invigorating.
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According to the Charles Duhigg in his book “The Power of Habit” extrinsic motivators can be used most effectively in the “Habit Loop,” like a three-step plan to maximize the effects of the effort and reward cycle.1
It begins with an important extrinsic cue used to prompt the exercise routine. This could be setting up your gym bag the night before and leaving it by the door, a positive reminder on your mobile device, or even just the chime signaling at a specified time. From here the body moves into execution while the mind is free to focus on the reward awaiting. Commitment to this cycle will change this routine into a habit and it gets easier.
As the efforts invested into your exercise routine increase, so will the levels of endorphins in the brain. These brain chemicals provide feelings of elation and euphoria and are a large reason exercise improves the mood. As the levels of endorphins increase, motivation will be shifted from extrinsic sources to satisfaction in the action itself.
Rethink Positive Thinking and Visit the Dark Side
Proponents of the “sunny side of the street” suggest there is great power in visualizing all the positive aspects of fitness. This includes enhanced health, optimal energy levels, and even the rewards you’ve prepared for yourself. Nevertheless, there is something to be said about looking on the dark side.
Taking time to consider how bad things could possibly go can take the scare factor out of negative situations that can arise. If you notice a tendency to become despondent just before exercise, prepare yourself to get positive with an upbeat playlist or a special maxim you can hang on to. Once you have visualized the obstacles to your progress it is easier to imagine an effective way to avoid or counter them.
Get Paid or Charged
Are you looking for a way to make things really interesting? How about getting cold hard cash for all those buckets of sweat you hope to produce? Bringing money into the picture automatically takes your goals and perspective on the whole activity to another level.
Money is the universal motivator, and the laws of behavioral economics say the mind is already hardwired with “loss aversion.” Studies have shown that financial motivators are effective at quitting the junk food habit, so why shouldn’t they work for fitness too?
If you’re interested, the Pact.com app is made up of a community of users that quite literally pay each other for making progress on their fitness goals. Of course, the costs of missing routines and skipping over exercises are going to be high as well. So only join this if you have a mind for economics and serious aversion for financial loss.
Coach the Mind
Your body is stronger and capable of far more than you think, but it is the mind that has a harder time getting up and making progress. Fortunately, the world is replete with excellent ways to engage the mind and set it up for progress.
Keeping yourself reminded of the reasons for getting regular exercise and of the progress you have made already is a big part of this. But like a coach, you need to get excited about this and fire your mind and body up for the daily effort. If you have a hard time doing this for yourself, get some external help.
Having a gym buddy or personal trainer to resonate your positivity and hold you accountable to your plans for fitness is a huge boost for dealing with an undisciplined mind until greater discipline can be cultivated.
Keep Things Fun and Interesting
Don’t allow boredom to add its weight to your regular routine. Take time to explore new avenues and exercise programs that can lead you to your goals possibly much faster. For example, if you feel your expertise and capacity in one specific exercise is flattening out, change things around for a while.
Swap out your weight-training for a few sessions of Vinyasa Yoga. Or take your Vinyasa Yoga out on the lake on a SUP board. By keeping your routine from becoming a routine, your exercise time is a gift to your body and health, rather than the other way around.
Final Notes on Finding Fitness Motivation
No matter what your goals are motivation will make a joy out of the effort. Once you begin to find pure satisfaction from the action itself, your exercises will seem effortless. With this in mind, it is important to choose exercise routines that you will find intrinsically rewarding. If the monotony of gym work is not your thing, maybe jazz dancing or martial arts will be more exciting.
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