Whether you want to get in shape or you just want to get moving, it always seems as if something is standing in your way. Sometimes it’s just a case of forgetting to work out (I think I saw that in a commercial once), but 9 times out of 10 it’s a serious lack of motivation.
Don’t let motivation hijackers continue to keep you from the healthy lifestyle you want. Here we will identify and weed out the worst-offenders, rehabilitate them, and send them on their way.
Offender #1: “I don’t have time”
Possibly the worst offender of the bunch, the “I don’t have time” excuse can render one’s motivation dead before it has even taken it’s first breath.
We all say it–whether it be about exercise or not–sometimes even several times a day. Do an experiment with yourself and count how many times you say, “I don’t have time” within one day or one week. You’ll be surprised by the result.
It can legitimately seem like you don’t have any time for exercise, but if you take a closer look at your daily routine, you might just find you have more time than you think.
Rehab: Did you examine your day-to-day activities? Did you find any windows of time that were not already occupied? If you didn’t find a time slot for exercise, take another look at all the things you do have time for, and replace one.
-Instead of sleeping an extra hour in the morning, get your workout in before you head to work.
-Do you really need to binge-watch your favorite shows? Omit a couple of those episodes and hit the gym instead.
-Use your lunch break for gym time and eat lunch at your desk later.
-If you’re a stay-at-home parent, take time for an at-home workout during the kids’ naps.
-Do you really need to attend Happy Hour after work, or veg on the couch every evening? Take a few days out of the week and hit the gym on the way home from work instead.
It can take a little juggling, and it might take some time to get used to a new routine, but once you get started you’ll be more likely to keep going. You have the time, you just have to prioritize it.
Offender #2: Distraction
This one goes hand-in-hand with “I don’t have time.” You might even say Distraction aids and abets Offender #1, but it definitely deserves it’s own jail cell. Distractions such as TV, the Internet, Facebook, your phone, all serve to keep your attention focused on outside stimulations. We’re so busy looking at what everyone is doing on Instagram and tweeting our unsolicited opinions on everything under the sun, that we lose focus on our own lives.
How many times have you come across something online that makes you want to get in shape or motivates you in some other way, only to have your attention lured over to another enticing topic? Distraction has been quietly nabbing your motivation while you sit before your electronic devices, thoroughly unaware. It happens too much, and it’s to your own detriment.
Rehab: When was the last time you sat quietly and just let your mind wander, minus outside distractions? I know, I know, who has time for that? But that excuse doesn’t work anymore, remember?
-Turn off your tv, phone, iPad, whatever it may be.
-Find a cozy place and get comfortable. Close your eyes.
-Mentally go through a checklist of body parts, relaxing each one as you go.
-Now let your mind relax, and see where it takes you.
Try this for just 10 minutes. You might find you want to go longer, just don’t go to sleep. 😉 When you sit with your thoughts, without distractions, you are able to get to the core of you. It is at this time you will be more likely to commit to something you’ve always wanted, and less likely to have your motivations stolen by Distraction.
Offender #3: The Naysayers
There are many times in life we let others influence our thinking. Sometimes we let a total stranger’s opinion of us negatively affect the way we think or feel. And other times, unfortunately, it’s the opinions of those closest to us that can be a huge deterrent in reaching our fitness goals. For the most part, we value the opinions of the people closest to us. We care what they think of us, which makes us more apt to take their opinions to heart.
Sometimes when loved ones see you headed in a positive direction–getting in shape–it can actually scare them. They might think you are going to change so much that you won’t need them anymore, or you might leave them behind.
In some cases, they themselves aren’t in the greatest shape, and would feel inferior if you were to change for the better. Or, they may become jealous of the time you’re spending away from them, working on yourself.
They may not be fully aware of the ways in which they discourage you, or for what reasons, but they do. Whatever their subconscious fears may be, manifesting themselves in their advice to you–“You’ll look like a man if you lift weights,” “You should really eat more”–turns out it’s all just their unwitting defense mechanism.
Rehab: It’s easy to tell someone, “Don’t let it bother you.” But that’s kinda what you have to do in this instance. You have to keep your goals in focus, knowing that sticking to your guns is going to positively benefit you down the road.
-When someone you love says something negative about the goals you want to achieve, take it in stride. If you can, try to make them feel good in some way about themselves. Reaffirm to them how much you love them, and show them support in all of their endeavors. They might just end up changing their tune.
Offender #4: Procrastination
Ah, our old friend, Procrastination. He’s that friend that’s always getting into trouble, in and out of jail, and always calls at the worst times. Sometimes it’s easy to get rid of him, but other times he just won’t go away.
Putting things off is a hallmark of the human condition. But putting things off can make problems bigger the longer you let them go without confrontation.
In the case of fitness, postponing the start of an exercise regimen just wastes your time. How many years have you told yourself you’ll start on Monday? And when Monday rolls around, one of those other offenders steps in to pick up where Procrastination left off.
Rehab: It’s safe to presume the judge in this case is sick and tired of seeing Procrastination in their courtroom. Maybe you can help rehabilitate him, but it won’t be easy.
The best way to go about this one would be to set up a rewards system for good behavior. Start with something small, and gradually reward yourself more as you continue to stick with your goals. Here’s a suggested rewards schedule:
-Reward for first day at the gym
-Reward at the one week mark
-Reward at one month mark
-Reward monthly from then on
Now don’t go crazy and eat an entire cheesecake or something. I don’t care how hard you worked. No. Just no.
Offender #5: Overeating/Smoking
Have you ever wondered how some people can go for a walk right after dinner in an effort to walk off their meal? You don’t know how they do it, you say? Yeah, me neither. I don’t know about you, but when I’m full, I don’t want to move from the couch. Now imagine stuffing yourself at every meal and/or constantly snacking throughout the day. Can you say ‘immobile?’
The same goes for smokers, or it did for me, anyway. I would have every intention of hitting the gym as I left work. Then I would light up a cigarette on my drive there, because when you drive, you smoke, duh. (The smokers and ex-smokers will understand.) Anyway, something about the relaxed feeling I got from that cigarette completely stole my gym motivation. Then I’d rationalize it, as I drove right past the gym, “Well this smoking thing isn’t very healthy anyway. Might as well put off the gym until I quit smoking . . . Monday.” Thanks, Procrastination.
-Don’t stuff yourself before your workout, and keep snacking to a minimum.
-Looks like you and Procrastination are going to have to work out another rewards system for quitting smoking.
Offender #6: All or Nothing
Let’s say you and Procrastination are getting along well at the moment and you’ve made it to the gym a time or two.
During your next workout, you have a setback of sorts. Whether you were unable to lift the amount of weight you’d intended to, or you weren’t able to hang in with the cardio as long as you wanted, you let it get you down. Before you know it, disappointed thoughts turn to extreme negativity. “What’s the point?” “What if this happens again?” “Why try any more?”
These doubts are feeding into your All-or-Nothing way of thinking. If you keep letting those thoughts feed All-or-Nothing, he’ll surely steal the motivation you fought Procrastination so hard for.
Rehab: Your frame of mind affects everything you do. Negativity begets negativity. If you let one or two, or even three things that went wrong stop you dead in your tracks, you’ll never get anywhere in life.
-When negativity sneaks in, beat it back with positivity.
-Think of the reasons you are doing what you’re doing.
-Keep going, even if you don’t feel like it. Fake it ’til you make it.
Even as negativity spurs more negativity, positivity is just as powerful. We just have to train our brains to go there, especially those of us that are pessimists at heart. If you make the decision to combat negativity with positivity at every turn, it can make a huge difference in your All-or-Nothing attitude.
In all of these instances it really is mind over matter. You are stronger than all these motivation thieves. Whenever you sense one of them creeping in, confront it, and make a citizen’s arrest. Make a list of the things you want in your life, then make a plan to get them. If you want something badly enough, you will make it happen, Procrastination be damned.