How to Motivate Yourself to Exercise
The Negative Cycle
Beep, beep, beep, you roll over and see 6:00 AM blaring back at you. How could it be? You roll back over with a groan after tapping snooze on your iPhone. You think, nine more minutes of snooze time and I will feel like exercising. Nine minutes go by in a flash and there you are again, playing the all too familiar mental tug of war of should I or shouldn't I exercise this morning. The excuses start to pop up one by one, "it's going to be a long day at work," "I didn't sleep too great," "my knee is really bothering me," "it's too hot out," "I will exercise after work." The excuses fill up your mind and convenience you that exercising this morning is the worst possible thing you can do. So instead you groggily walk downstairs and get your day started with a cup of coffee. At least you'll be less sweaty and more energized with coffee, right?
You go through the motions of your morning routine. Coffee, breakfast, watch the news, shower, brush your teeth (maybe your hair), find a clean outfit (not on the bedroom floor, but actually hanging in the closet), and hopefully beat the morning rush hour. You get to work and mentally prepare for your day. You have your lengthy to do list all ready to go. Before you can even think of crossing out the first item on your list, your boss comes in and gives you a task that of course is first priority (but really isn't). Welp, there goes your plan for the day and quickly your day blurs by.
You leave work feeling defeated and exhausted. The tiny voice in your head reminds yourself that you said you would "exercise later." You start thinking okay, with all that stress eating today, I HAVE to workout, I HAVE to run at least two miles, I HAVE to at least break a sweat and get my heart pumping, I HAVE to go to the gym! But... I had to make so many decisions and solve problems all day long, why do I HAVE to do one more thing. The voice creeps back into your ear, "You HAVE to lose weight, your friend's wedding is right around the corner!" Your excuses overpower and you start to tell yourself, "I'm too tired," "I had a hard day," "I won't eat dessert tonight," "I will exercise tomorrow morning." You convenience yourself for the second time that day that exercising this evening is the worse possible thing you can do.
Instead, you sit in rush hour traffic growing more and more agitated. You finally make it home, kick off your shoes, pour yourself a glass of wine, and binge watch reality TV while eating comfort food. You go to bed telling yourself you HAVE to exercise tomorrow morning. Before you know it, your alarm clock goes off at 6:00 AM and here you are again. The excuses roll in like a dark storm cloud and you go another morning of not exercising. How do you end the cycle? How do you break through and "Just Do It" like a Nike commercial?
How many of you have talked yourself out of exercising? My guess would be that we have all been there at one point in our life. Why? Because our mindset wasn't positive. First, when we tell ourselves that we HAVE to do something (anything), the appeal of actually doing the activity goes out the door along with your motivation and determination. I don't know about you, but when someone tells me I HAVE to do something, my sixteen year old rebel comes out and I say to myself "Oh hell no, I'm not doing that!" Second, when our goal of exercising is to lose weight, the task sounds so tedious and oh so boring.
I know you are probably thinking right now, "Lady, there is no way that playing some reverse psychology on myself, by telling myself, 'you don't have to go to the FUN gym' is NOT going to get my butt on the treadmill." Hey, look, I completely agree with you it isn't that simple, but it can be if you actually practice having a positive mindset.
First off, working out shouldn't be something you HAVE to do it should be something you WANT to do. You can force yourself to "have" to do something, but that will only last for so long. On the other hand, if you truly have this deep down desire to WANT to exercise, you will be successful. Exercising doesn't have to be a miserable task. Exercising can come in so many forms, find your passion. Ask yourself, what would make me excited to exercise? Maybe it's running, playing basketball, riding a bike, playing tennis, hiking, joining a dance class, whatever your passion may be find it and enjoy it. As soon as exercising doesn't feel like a chore, you will find pure happiness and to commit to your routine.
Exercising has so many other benefits like reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease, reducing your risk for some cancers, and improving your mental health besides losing weight. The majority of people I know are exercising to "lose weight." Those same people often quit their workout regimen because either they aren't seeing results fast enough, or they feel like they HAVE to choose a workout they hate in order to see the scale drop.
For me, this positive exercise mindset took years! For many years, I fell into the "I HAVE to be here to lose weight" camp at the gym. My workout felt like a chore. I felt like I had to be there and my reflection in the mirror taunted an unhappy gym goer. I became the roller coaster gym goer. I would go long spurts going to the gym and then long spurts not going. Now, I found my passion and am consistent. Running is my passion. I love the pure bliss of running. I love the freedom. I love how my mind goes blank. I love the peace, the quiet, the serenity. I love crushing personal records. I love seeing how far I can push my mental and physical strength. Running isn't a workout to me, running is my saving grace, the best part of my day. I don't run to lose weight. I run for mental well-being, for joy, and for happiness. I WANT to run. Running is my positive addiction. When I don't run, I feel angry and frustrated. When my alarm clock goes off, chances are I'm already up jumping into my running gear thinking "I WANT to run today, I can't wait" and I'm off pounding the pavement.
Take time to find your passion. Test activities out, figure out what lights the fire in your soul. If your goal is to lose weight, don't make that your focus. Focus on how you feel mentally. So the next time your alarm clock goes off and the mental tug of war begins, remind yourself of your passion, remind yourself this is what you NEED, and ultimately remind yourself that happiness is only a workout away.