Working up to working out

How do you cultivate a fitness mindset? It’s something I really struggle with. I know I should get in some healthy movement every day, I just don’t always want to. I know I’m not alone here.

My problem is that my why isn’t strong enough. Even if I find an activity that I like, fitness is such a low priority for me that I easily get caught up in other things and simply forget to do it. Sometimes I intentionally find things to do to justify skipping the treadmill, trail, or the mat. Working out only works if it is convenient in both time and location.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that my procrastination wins over my daily workout more often than not. Most of my perspective clients mention a lack of time and sufficient motivation to move their bodies. Their aversion to getting their sweat on every day deters them from starting any health program at all. Their can’t game is strong, same as mine.

My solution

A bigger why

Why do you want to move your body in the first place? Is it because your doctor said you should? Because your pants are tight? To increase your energy? Are those reasons big enough to actually get you out of bed and get you moving early in the morning?

Your why has to be big enough to motivate you. Your why will be very personal. It might even seem silly to other people and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else as long as it works for you.

When making a commitment to a new exercise program take a few minutes to sit down and get real with yourself about why you want to get into shape. Maybe you have a solid goal, like a wedding or a dress you want to fit into; or maybe you just want to improve your overall health; maybe you want to run a charity 5k in a couple of months.

Whatever it is, be sure it makes sense to you. It has to be strong enough to get you out of bed, get you running in the rain, and get you carving out time to do it when the time is short.

Accountability

Find someone or something to keep you accountable. This might mean meeting friends for a daily walk, paying an entry fee for a race ahead of time, or joining a studio or gym. Maybe you have a family member keeping you accountable by asking whether you did your burpees today. Perhaps signing up for a class in which you pay ahead of time and lose the money if you don’t show up will get you motivated. Some people find it helpful to join an online group that holds them accountable.

Whatever it is, be sure your accountability strategy has the power to get you going when you don’t want to. There are going to be days when you don’t want to do it. This is when someone else’s influence, or the money you spent, can help you succeed.

No excuses

My excuse game is solid. I can talk myself out of almost anything that is good for me. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing it. In my head, my excuses sound like reasonable acquiescence. The truth is, if I wanted it bad enough, nothing would hold me back from achieving my goal. It’s a matter of priority and finding the time.

I can get up early to workout. So can you. You just have to do it. Stop listening to your excuses as to why it won’t work. Refer to your why and your accountability you have put in place when your excuse game gets too large.

More fun less whining

Find something you like to do. It is very hard to get motivated when you have to slog through yet another uninspired workout that you hate to do. Doing something fun that gets your heart rate up and improves your strength and endurance works just as well as the awful stuff.

I hate burpees. There I said it. I hate them. Occasionally they will appear in an otherwise fun workout program I am engaged in. So I will do the burpees. See how that works?

There are lots of fun ways to get your fitness on while having fun. Hiking, biking, swimming, running, dancing, yoga, pilates, and something called pound are all fun, and so many more inventive techniques are appearing all the time. Find something you can get into. Keep changing it up to work different areas of your body and to keep it fresh.

Keep a solid schedule

Schedule time for healthy movement into your calendar. Make it a non-negotiable: you have to do this workout before you do anything else today. If it is on your schedule, you don’t have to think about it or decide when you’re going to get it done. It’s already decided for you.

This works really well when you pair it with the accountability of a class or a meet up with friends. Then you have it in your schedule, and so does everyone else, so it can’t be easily pushed out, rescheduled, or canceled altogether.

Your reward

Notice how I didn’t include a reward system. The results, in the way you feel and look, are their own reward, and really the only one I wholeheartedly recommend without caveats. You can come up with your own reward system, of course, but it has to be something healthy that won’t undo what you have done with your new workout program.

For example, my reward for reaching my goal pant size will be buying a pair of expensive jeans for myself. For the last few years, I have been buying cheap jeans from Target because I was absolutely not planning on staying at that size. Buying the expensive jeans will not only be a reward, but also a motivator to stay at that size.

An example of an unhealthy reward would be to grant yourself extra dessert because you did extra burpees today. Since what is on your fork counts for more than how much you move, extra dessert would negate the extra burpees plus some. Be sure you are being vigilant about what is going in so you can see the results of your hard work.


If you find this useful, there’s a good chance your friends will, too. Share this with your friends right away while you are thinking of it. Thanks for reading!

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