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5 Surprising Ways to Stop Gasping for Fitness Motivation

5 Surprising Ways to Stop Gasping for Fitness Motivation

You’ve been there: sitting on the couch watching Netflix as the clock ticks past your scheduled workout. Fortunately, there are psychological techniques you can use to get fitness motivation over the long haul. As Aristotle said:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Here are 6 ways to get fitness motivation and turn exercise into a habit.

1. Use Fitness Motivation Surges Strategically

You know those times you feel hyper motivated to do 10,000 push-ups and 100,000 squats? Instead of going all-in on one insane workout (and feeling terrible the next day), use them to do more than just exercise. If you take a step back and make a game plan for when and how you’ll work out, you can help yourself stay motivated once the initial surge wears off.

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Think about it. Which will get you better results: 100,000 push-ups in one day, or 100 push-ups over 1000 days? Consistency is more important than any one workout. Using motivation strategically stops you from burning out.

2. No Hard Workouts, For Now

Ever wonder why people rave about exercise, even though it seems like it sucks? Early on, the key to working out is developing a positive relationship with exercise. You can’t do that if every workout makes you want to die. Nothing on earth feels quite like stepping out of the gym on a sunny spring day. Instead of breaking down in a puddle of sweat, start with workouts that get you moving just a little. Boost your heart rate for a few minutes, feel energized, and look forward to coming back for more.

You can scale up later. Remember, the goal of your first workout isn’t to get fit; it’s to come back for your second workout. Start easy now, see results forever.

3. Do Something So Easy You Can’t NOT Finish

Think to the future: one year from now, where will you be? If you keep burning out in a blaze of failed motivation, you’ll probably wind up back on the couch. But if you slowly, gradually build a workout habit—starting with one push-up and scaling up to a full-body routine—your entire life could change. After one week you might feel behind. After 10 weeks you won’t.

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My first workouts were only 10 minutes long. Since then I’ve had days (not many, but some) where I was happy to spend four hours in the gym. You don’t ever need to spend that long, but by starting small you might surprise yourself.

How can you start small? Start with one push-up. Set aside a clear chunk of time everyday to do just one push-up. Do that for weeks, then bump it up to five push-ups and add a squat. Gradually work your way up to a full workout.

4. Use Chaining

Habits are easier to start if you connect them to other habits.

How often do you have to remember to brush your teeth? Not often, because it’s a habit cued by other actions (waking up, going to the bathroom in the morning). In contrast, I’ve always struggled to work out on weekends, because going to the gym using willpower to force myself into action. With nothing to cue your workouts, it’s a lot harder to get moving.

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Just about anything can be a cue. I like to use leaving work as a guaranteed cue: going straight from the office to the gym means there’s no time to change my mind. You can use waking up, eating lunch, or any other regular event in your life to build your fitness habit.

5. Use the Right Workout Rewards

Rewards are a great way to keep your fitness motivation, but only if you use them right. A big, one-time reward like a new game or watch feels good, but it isn’t going to create regular positive feelings that you can associate with your workouts.

Small rewards can be anything! I like to get social rewards by hanging out in a coffee shop near my gym. In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg recommends having a small piece of chocolate at the end of each workout to stimulate endorphins. In college, I used to hang out with my friends in the athletic building after my workouts.

Your rewards will work if they are small, regular, and associated with going to the gym. You can’t use something like “taking a nap” because that happens too long after your workout to be effective. Any fun or enjoyable reward you can get within 20 minutes of your workout is perfect.

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With the right rewards, you’ll learn to enjoy exercise, get fit, and never need fitness motivation again.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on November 19, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments—you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time. That’s why the art of saying no can be a game changer for productivity.

Requests for your time are coming in all the time—from family members, friends, children, coworkers, etc. To stay productive, minimize stress, and avoid wasting time, you have to learn the gentle art of saying no—an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger, or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to stop people pleasing and master the gentle art of saying no.

1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it.

Be honest when you tell them that: “I just can’t right now. My plate is overloaded as it is.” They’ll sympathize as they likely have a lot going on as well, and they’ll respect your openness, honesty, and attention to self-care.

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which, for many of us, is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

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For example, if my wife asks me to pick up the kids from school a couple of extra days a week, I’ll likely try to make time for it as my family is my highest priority. However, if a coworker asks for help on some extra projects, I know that will mean less time with my wife and kids, so I will be more likely to say no. 

However, for others, work is their priority, and helping on extra projects could mean the chance for a promotion or raise. It’s all about knowing your long-term goals and what you’ll need to say yes and no to in order to get there. 

You can learn more about how to set your priorities here.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word[1].

Sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry, but…” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important when you learn to say no, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm and unapologetic about guarding your time.

When you say no, realize that you have nothing to feel bad about. You have every right to ensure you have time for the things that are important to you. 

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. However, if you erect a wall or set boundaries, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss—they’re our boss, right? And if we start saying no, then we look like we can’t handle the work—at least, that’s the common reasoning[2].

In fact, it’s the opposite—explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

“Look, everyone, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects, and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

This, of course, takes a great deal of awareness that you’ll likely only have after having worked in one place or been friends with someone for a while. However, once you get the hang of it, it can be incredibly useful.

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8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, try saying no this way:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands. If you need to continue saying no, here are some other ways to do so[3]:

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Saying no the healthy way

    10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

    This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

    Simply say so—you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization—but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true, as people can sense insincerity.

    The Bottom Line

    Saying no isn’t an easy thing to do, but once you master it, you’ll find that you’re less stressed and more focused on the things that really matter to you. There’s no need to feel guilty about organizing your personal life and mental health in a way that feels good to you.

    Remember that when you learn to say no, isn’t about being mean. It’s about taking care of your time, energy, and sanity. Once you learn how to say no in a good way, people will respect your willingness to practice self-care and prioritization. 

    More Tips for a Less Stressful Life

    Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

    Reference

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