Choosing a lifestyle of exercise isn’t easy. It requires sacrifice, planning, and determination. All of these things can be hard to muster every single day, and so what do you do when your motivation and determination wanes? How can you overcome the excuses that keep you sitting on the couch in a slump?
You know the excuses: I don’t have time, I’m not prepared, I haven’t eaten yet, I’ve eaten too much, I’m feeling lazy. The list goes on and on. In the moment it’s easy to give in to these excuses. The mind likes to settle at the easiest option. And so it does, and you miss that afternoon workout. Luckily for you, there are ways to surpass this excuse phase and get into the shape that you want.
The magic is in the time when you feel motivated and inspired. When you see the vision of yourself working out and being in shape, this is the time to set up cues for yourself that will later rekindle your inspiration. Half the battle is taking the first step of preparing, mentally and physically. If you prepare the night before your body and mind will be ready the next day to get some exercise in, it will even expect it. It boils down to these two things…
Setting up cues and preparation
It’s 6 am in the morning. Your alarm goes off. You’re tempted to press snooze, but then you see your tennis shoes deliberately placed right by your alarm. You remember the feeling you had last night when you felt inspired to workout. You decide not to press snooze. You look up further to see your workout clothes laid out, along with a water bottle. No going back now. You change into your workout clothes, take a swig of water, and head out for your morning jog.
#2You’re at University or work. You have an incredibly packed day and you’re tempted to stay in the library or at your desk, eat a snack, and force yourself to be un-creatively productive. Then, you look down at your bag. You see your workout clothes & a soccer ball. You remember wanting to go kick the soccer ball around at the local field and then lift weights at the gym. The smell of the grass on the field comes to mind and you decide that fresh air and exercise will make you more productive in the long run than sitting and half way eating a snack/halfway doing work.
You just got off of work, all you want to do is go home and relax. You’re tempted to get in your car or hop on the bus and spend the rest of the evening with your couch. But as you grab for the keys or bus pass you see a healthy snack, maybe some granola, or a fruit snack, right where your keys are. With it is a note that says, “remember your locker at the gym? Your workout clothes are waiting for you.” Or, “that sunset will make for an awesome run.” From there you get to eat your snack as a reward and then hit the gym or the trails for some exercise.
So you’ve set up the cues & have overcome the excuses, now how do you stay motivated? The next step…
Creating healthy rewards for yourself will keep you coming back for more. My three favorite healthy rewards are…
Exercising with others. Whenever I plan a workout with fellow gym mates or friends I’m 10 times more likely to get excited and stick to my workout plan. In addition to making me more reliable, exercising with friends adds an element of fun and sociality that keeps me going. I find that I even push myself more and exercise at a higher intensity when I’m motivated by my friends.
I also like to keep a workout log. Whether it’s in a daily planner showing when and where I exercised or in a separate exercise log, having the exercises written down allows to check it off when it’s complete, creating a sense of accomplishment. Research shows that when we check things off our to-do list we get a rush of dopamine to our brain! Give yourself not only endorphins but also dopamine on your next workout.
I love rewarding myself with an adventure! Whether that’s surfing, hiking, kayaking or finding a spot to set up a hammock in the forest. I love exercising because it allows be to access the inaccessible, it allows my body to be in shape to the point where I can catch a big wave or climb up a mountain to see an epic sunset.