I am still surprised when a client comes to me for help with weight management and then tells me they have a membership to a gym they have not used in months. Or else they have a Stairmaster, or treadmill, or some other type of exercise equipment at home that they have not touched for years. Maybe some of you reading this identify with these clients. Somehow, the motivation to go to the gym or to get on the exercise bike evaporated and now the gym membership goes unused and the exercise bike serves as a rack for discarded clothes. So what happened?
We come up with rationalizations; we do not have the time, it is too difficult, too cold to go to the gym, or it is raining outside. We can come up with a million rationalizations to justify our not exercising. One of my favorites is the vague, “I just don’t feel like it,” as if we forgot how exercise increases our energy, our sense of well being, and our overall health and fitness. The key to overcoming these rationalizations, and not allow them to arise in the first place, is to find something about your exercise activity that you thoroughly enjoy. This is not the results or the goal of your physical exercise, although that is important, rather it is something about doing the exercise that in itself is enjoyable. By simply reframing your exercises so they are fun exercises will naturally increase your motivation to exercise.
For example, my favorite exercise is mountain biking. I enjoy mountain biking because I enjoy the freedom, I love being outdoors and in nature, I sometimes see deer, hawks, or other wildlife. I like being able to leave my front door and explore the area in which I live and I enjoy the feeling that I have been somewhere and seen something. I love the challenge one particular hill presents me and one day I will make it up that hill without having to stop. Moreover, riding on the bike trails makes me feel like a young boy and sometimes I do wheelies on my bike when no one is watching. By thinking this way, mountain becomes the best exercise because it is fun exercise. I increase my motivation to work out and it becomes something I miss if I do not do it.
What is it about your types of exercises or workouts that you truly enjoy? Maybe there is a social aspect of going to the gym with your friends. Maybe you challenge yourself with how far you can go on the treadmill in the given amount of time. Perhaps you enjoy the movement of an aerobics or dance class. Make a list of the aspects of the exercise that you truly enjoy. Make the descriptions genuine and heartfelt, exaggerate it using your imagination, so much so that you will feel a loss if you miss out on the exercise experience. When you have done this you will generate a longing for the exercise experience, not because you should or have to do it, but rather because you want to do it.
If you would like to learn more about how you can think differently about exercise and increase you motivation to work out, call (805) 637-4263 or email me.