What’s Wrecking Your Motivation to Exercise?
There’s a lot of research about exercise, mood, and feelings of wellbeing. In fact, the American Psychological Association refers to exercise as a form of stress relief and even a tool to help counter depression. Motivated individuals know the feeling of finally reaching a goal after months of planning, implementing, hard work and sacrifices. Even though some of us get shaky legs at the thought of a tough workout, almost anyone will agree that we always feel better after the workout than before.
However, the demands of everyday life like to battle it out with whatever free time we have, thus making trips to the gym few and far in between. Well, I’m here to say that you deserve that time, you owe it to yourself, and here are some things that might help keep your “exercise motivation” on point.
- Exercise for you, and for you alone
You have to make the commitment for you and no one else. In my practice with working with people, nothing is worse than when people let other things take precedence over their health. These people have the motivation to exercise, but they also can’t say no to their social circle. Through all of this chaos, the poor client ends up forgetting their goals and why they even started to begin with.
Exercise usually has to compete with all of our other obligations in life, and this is a fight that your training usually loses. Sometimes it appears selfish and even quite vain to ditch other activities so you can focus on your workout. Just try to remember that you’re trying to accomplish specific goals; and these goals are meant to improve your health, well-being, and how you live your life.
- Don’t view body image as a character flaw
If you’re overweight, then you have some weight to lose. Big deal. All you’re doing is giving an honest assessment of your physique; you’ve made some lifestyle choices that have affect your physiology. In fact, you might have made some of these decisions without any knowledge you were doing harm: after all, even slightly processed foods have ingredients that can affect hormone production.
Research tells us that a person’s self image and perception of self will have a major decision in if they carry out an exercise program or not (1). Don’t let this happen to you: that last thing you want is to view your physique as a character flaw and let that stop you from making some changes in your life.
- Make exercise harder
Now, before you go rushing to do some crazy workout: here me out. The best way to see success, and to build your self-confidence, is to make sure that you’re working out properly and not “cheating.” Bouncing the barbell of your chest, not going all the way down in a squat, and not controlling a weight are just some of the things people do to claim that they completed a tough workout.
Do the small things that can help build your self-confidence: stick to the schedule you committed to, complete a full range of motion, knock out all of your reps, and don’t be foolish and try to lift a heavy weight with garbage form. After all, studies show that a person’s self efficacy is the number one factor in sticking with a training program (2). So make sure you do the right things that will slowly build your self confidence.
- Be honest with yourself
Ever been to a gym and see a group of young guys trying to bench 315? You can’t miss them: they al l wear 90 dollar workout t-shirts, they have skinny legs, and everyone is lifting the weight except the guy on the bench. If you’re not very strong, then focus on getting strong. If you can’t run, then start by walking. Remember, training is a blueprint – it’s not about the start but where you end up. The more honest you are with yourself the more you can appreciate your hard work and sacrifices once you’ve seen all of your progress.
These are just a few, simple things you can do to help start, or adhere to, and exercise program. Some may seem simple, but you’d be surprised how many people in my career overlooked these principles. Regardless, don’t let even the smallest things wreck your motivation to exercise.
1. Whaley, D.E. Schrider, A.F. “The Process of Adult Exercise Adherence: Self Perceptions and Competence.”(2005) The Sport Psychologist 19: 148-163
2. Trost, S.G., Owen, N., Bauman, A.E., Sallis, J.F. and Brown, W. Correlates of adults’ participation in physical activity: review and update”(2002). Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 34(12), 1996-2001.