September 22


6 Motivational Techniques to Get You Working Out

By Staff Writer

motivation, regular exercise

by Chris Miller

You KNOW that exercise is good for both your brain and your body.  But do you still have a hard time getting yourself to the gym or hitting the pavement? You’re not alone: millions of people have trouble finding the motivation to work out. However, the good news is that you don’t have to resign yourself to a lackadaisical lifestyle. With these 6 mental motivational techniques, you can get off the couch and into shape.

The Incentive

Picking your incentive could be what makes or breaks your motivation. If you don’t pick an incentive that you actually care about, you won’t feel motivated to workout. But if you pick the right incentive—one that you’re passionate about—you’ll have all the motivation you need to carry you through week after week. All you have to do is stick to your guns about your incentive.

If you don’t know how to pick the right incentive, that’s okay. Just answer one question: what do you love? I’m not talking about a person. I’m talking about a thing—be it a food, a TV show, a book, or anything else. Then tell yourself you can’t have that thing until you work out a designated number of times, or lose a certain amount of pounds. If you love a particular TV show or book, another trick is to say that you can only watch that show or read that book while working out.

If you’ve picked an incentive and you still can’t get yourself to do anything, you haven’t picked the right incentive. Look closely at your life to figure out what you cannot live without, and find a way to make that your incentive.

The Workout

Working out should be fun. If you’re just beginning, it’s understandable if you don’t agree. But it’s true. When working out, you get high on adrenaline and endorphins. But if you’re not having fun, you need to try something else.

If you run on a treadmill, you could put a movie on to distract yourself, making the time pass quicker. Or you could try using the elliptical instead. Maybe a class would work better for you, if you need a more social setting to really have fun. Think of some different types of workouts you’d be interested in trying and see which one works best for you.

The Goal

Set a goal when you start working out. The goal could be weight, size, look, time, clothing, or any number of other possibilities, like completing a nutrition program or even getting a nutrition certification online. The key is to make the goal attainable for you, and then set smaller goals to make it achievable. Then track your progress.

If you want to work out for 40 minutes 4 times a week for 4 months, keep a weekly record of when you went and for how long. If you want to lose 30 pounds by the time your sister gets married, calculate how much time you have and then break down the main goal. If she’s getting married in 3 months, that means you have to lose 10 pounds per month, or 2-3 pounds per week. Once you have it broken down into bite-sized pieces, it will be easier to maintain. Before you know it, you’ll accomplish your goal, and then you can set a new one.

The Accountability

Make yourself accountable to someone. It could be a family member, a roommate, or a friend. It could even be someone you met online at a forum. The point is that you let them know your goal, and then you check in with that person on a daily or weekly basis. Having someone to report to could be just what you need to keep going, especially if you don’t want that person to see you fail.

The Partner

Find a friend you can work out with. Having someone to work out with means you can motivate and strengthen someone else, and they can do the same for you. You might find it easy to tell yourself that you don’t want to work out, but it’s harder to say no to a friend. Peer pressure can be a great motivator.

The Record

Get a notebook and start recording everything—from what you eat and how you feel, to your weight, when you worked out, and what you did. Weigh yourself once a week, and make a point to keep that weight going down, rather than up. With this record, you’ll be able to graph your progress, giving yourself evidence of the headway you’re making.

Finding motivation can be hard, but you can do it, and these tips can help you. End your lazy lifestyle, and jump into a new, improved you.

About the author

Our staff writers come from various backgrounds in the neuroscience, personal development, brain science and psychology fields. Many started out as with us as contributors!

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