You know those people who just seem to have been blessed with some magical unicorn energy? The people who pass up happy hour because they say they have to go to the gym? Or the crazy-motivated people who get up at 4AM to run before a full day of work? Honestly, where do they get that kind of workout motivation from?
Maybe you are that person (congrats!) but maybe you’re not . . . and you wish you were.
Truthfully, moving our bodies is something we all know we should be doing, and this time of the year is the peak of our good efforts to get into an exercise routine that sticks.
You’ve probably noticed, though, that some people seem to naturally be more inclined to have fitness motivation to work out and make it a habit. Whereas others try to get into a routine year after year and struggle to make it stick.
There’s good news though! You can train your brain to crave the gym.
Those “crazy motivated” people? They’re no different than you. They weren’t born with a god-given inclination to be more or less disciplined with their fitness.
Workout motivation isn’t something that only certain people were blessed with by a magical fairy as a child. You are just as capable as your uber-driven friend who is training for a marathon while completing a PhD, and you have just as much ability to “become” a fitness person as anyone else.
Why Don’t I Have Workout Motivation?
Considerer these two scenarios.
Your alarm goes off, you open your eyes, groggy and tired. You think about getting up and putting on your workouts clothes to hit the gym. You envision how cold it is, and how warm and comfy your bed is.
You think about how hard it will be to get going and how the strain of the exercise will feel on your sore body. You’ll get sweaty, it’ll be hard, and then you’ll have to shower and head to a long day at work. So, you hit snooze and tell yourself you’ll do it tomorrow.
Your alarm goes off, your immediate reaction may be to curl back up and hit snooze. But, you remember your goals, spring yourself out of bed, and get dressed in your workout clothes.
You lace up your shoes, and head to the gym. You can’t wait to crank up your workout playlist and feel the almost-immediate rush of endorphins. Before you’ve finished your workout, you’re already looking forward to the next day’s, so you can keep seeing results and getting stronger.
Follow These 6 Steps to Get More Fitness Motivation:
If the first scenario sounds most familiar, it’s totally understandable. But with a few mental and practical hacks, your brain can be trained for scenario number two.
How? Follow these six steps to amp up your workout motivation:
1. Understand the Science of Habits
We all know workouts are good for us. It’s been proven time and time again that exercise works to reduce anxiety and depression by balancing the ratio of neurotransmitters in our brains. This is exactly how prescription drugs work, by the way.
Workouts become addictive in the best sense of the word. We realize they create pleasure and link them to enjoyment. At the end of the day, our habits are created (good ones and bad ones), because of how we link a certain behavior to pleasure or pain.
This is why we Netflix binge, eat comfort foods, and avoid checking our emails. We’ve associated pleasure or pain with these behaviors. It’s that simple!
Luckily though, when we understand this, we understand that we can retrain our brains to think about behaviors differently. And we can link things to pleasure that we once thought of as pain-inducing. Workouts are the perfect example of this.
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2. Realize That Motivation Is a Myth
A big myth we could all benefit from ditching is that motivation reigns supreme. Have you ever caught yourself saying something like “I’d love to workout, I’m just not motivated,” or “I was doing really good, but then I lost my motivation.”
Waiting for your motivation to “strike,” like some powerful, invisible, magical unicorn galloping into your life is as unproductive as it is untrue.
Motivation is not some external thing that graces some lucky people and is lacking in others. Truthfully, you’d benefit from ditching the term “motivation” altogether, and instead replacing it with “discipline.” That’s where it all starts.
Motivation is great. But discipline is what separates those who work out consistently and who have made it a lifestyle from those who are great at starting new routines but quit when life gets tough. (Which, by the way, when is it not?)
Discipline is that thing you use to do things like fold your laundry, pay taxes, floss your teeth, and walk the dog. Treat your workout the same.
While you will almost certainly develop a deeper, more spiritual motivation for continuing your workouts, it’s very likely going to be discipline that gets you going when you’d rather not.
3. Schedule That Ish
Our brains crave rhythm and routine, and we work best in all areas of our life when we have it.
Think about it this way: if you scheduled a meeting with your boss or a dentist appointment, you’d show up, wouldn’t you? Of course. Treat your workouts no differently.
First, pick a realistic time each day when you know you can get it done. Saying “I should really start doing that” and actually planning the times in your planner are two very different things.
When you have a set time of day to sweat, after a week or two, your brain will start to adjust to this habit and look forward to it.
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4. Switch Your Wording
Ever caught yourself complaining about how you have to “drag” yourself to the gym and how “ugh I’d sooo rather not do this workout, but I gotta,” etc.? Of course, you have, if you’re human! It’s almost trendy to bitch about our workouts, like they’re a chore.
While it may seem harmless and like the common thing to do to commiserate with a friend about your workout, the problem is that what our brains hear, they believe. What we repeatedly say, we believe.
In other words, your words are a powerful thing. Try saying things like “I am so looking forward to my workouts today” (even if you’re not) and “I’m so grateful I GET to move my body and get stronger.” Your mind will follow suit.
5. Find Something You Enjoy
The best workout sucks if it’s not one you’re going to enjoy.
While it may take some discipline (spoiler alert, it will) and you will absolutely have off days where you’d rather skip, your workout should be something that you at least mostly enjoy.
If you absolutely hate cardio and are trying to force yourself to be a runner, forget about it. Likewise, if weightlifting isn’t your jam but you love bootcamp, do that! Find something that you actually enjoy, even if it’s hard to get started, and you’re halfway there.
6. Get Accountability
While it’s one thing to skip on yourself, a layer of accountability makes you far more likely to follow through on your fitness plans. Grab a friend or coworker with similar goals and plan a time to hit the gym before or after work, or on your lunch break.
Not only does getting social make you see your workout as more of a fun event, you also have a built-in buddy to help hold you accountable.
Make sure you share your goals with each other. This way, when you’re feeling the urge to skip, your friend/gym buddy can remind you, “Hey, remember why you started this?”
The Takeaway on Workout Motivation
Revved up about your sweat session tomorrow? Implementing these tips will help you to commit to your goals and become a healthier you for the long haul, far beyond just January or that wedding or cruise you want to look ripped for.
Here’s to training your brain to crave the gym, ditching your yo-yo relationship with fitness, and cultivating your new, long-term approach!
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