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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 June 24, 2019

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

A study [1] published in Depression and Anxiety found that social media users are more likely to be depressed. This was just one of the huge number of studies linking social media and depression[2] . But why exactly do platforms like Facebook and Instagram make people so unhappy? Well, we don’t know yet for sure, but there are some explanations.

Social Media Could Lead to Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Social media may lead to depression in predisposed individuals or make existing symptoms of depression[3] worse explains[4] the study above’s senior author Dr. Brian Primack. So, the problem may not be in social media per se, but how we use it.

Signs You’re Suffering From “Social Media Depression”

If you feel like social media is having a negative impact on your mood, then you may be suffering from “social media depression.” Look for symptoms like:

• low self-esteem,

• negative self-talk,

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• a low mood,

• irritability,

• a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed,

• and social withdrawal.

If you’ve had these symptoms for more than two weeks and if this is how you feel most of the time, then you are likely depressed. Although “social media depression “is not a term recognized in the medical setting, social media depression seems to be a real phenomenon affecting around 50% of social media users. As explained in a review study[5] published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, if a person has a certain predisposition to depression and other mental disorders, social media use may only worsen their mental health.

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Social Media Could Crush Self-Esteem

We know that social media and depression are in some way linked, but why is this so? Well, according to Igor Pantic, MD, Ph.D.[6], social media use skews your perception about other people’s lives and traits. To explain this further, most people like to portray an idealized image of their lives, personal traits, and appearance on sites like Facebook and Instagram. If you confuse this idealized image with reality, you may be under the false impression that everyone is better than you which can crush your self-esteem and lead to depression. This is especially true for teens and young adults who are more likely to compare themselves to others. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, the illusion that everyone has it better off than you will just make you feel worse.

Causing Social Isolation and Other Negative Emotions

Another commonly cited reason for the negative impact of social media on mental health is its link with social isolation. Depressed people are more likely to isolate themselves socially and chose only to interact indirectly through social media platforms. But communication online tends to be superficial and is lacking when compared to real-life interaction explains Panic. What this means is not that social media leads to isolation but the other way around, possibly explaining why we find so many depressed persons on these sites.

Lastly, social media use may generate negative emotions in you like envy, jealousy, dislike, loneliness, and many others and this may worsen your depressive symptoms.

Why We Need to Take This Seriously

Both depression and social media use are on the rise according to epidemiological studies. Since each one has an impact on the other, we have to start thinking of healthier ways to use social media. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to the negative impact of social media on mental health.

Advice on Social Media Use

Although these findings did not provide any cause-effect explanation regarding Facebook and depression[7], they still do prove that social media use may not be a good way to handle depression. For this reason, the leading authors of these studies gave some suggestions as to how clinicians and people can make use of such findings.

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One suggestion is that clinicians should ask patients about their social media habits. Then they can advise them on how to change their outlook on social media use or even suggest limiting their time spent on social media.

Some social media users may also exhibit addictive behavior; they may spend too much time due to compulsive urges. Any compulsive behavior is bound to lead to feelings of guilt which can worsen depressive symptoms.

Having Unhealthy Relationship with Social Media

If you feel like your relationship with social media is unhealthy, then consider the advice on healthy social media use provided by psychology experts from Links Psychology[8]:

Avoid negative social comparison – always keep in mind that how people portray themselves and their lives on social media is not a realistic picture, but rather an idealized one. Also, avoid comparing yourself to others because this behavior can lead to negative self-talk.

Remember that social media is not a replacement for real life – Social media is great for staying in touch and having fun, but it should never replace real-world interactions.

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Avoid releasing personal information – For your safety and privacy, make sure to be careful with what you post online.

Report users who bully and harass you – It’s easy to be a bully in the anonymous and distant world of social media. Don’t take such offense personally and report those who abuse social media to harass others.

The bits of advice listed above can help you establish a healthy relationship with social media. Always keep these things in mind to avoid losing an objective perspective of what social media is and how it is different from real life. If you are currently suffering from depression, talk to your doctor about what is bothering you so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Tell your doctor about your social media use and see if they could give you some advice on this topic.

Reference

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