Do you feel like you lack the motivation to work out regularly?
Or maybe you find yourself coming up with million excuses not to go to the gym today? Don’t worry, you are not alone – considering the way human mind works, sometimes, we tend to procrastinate and postpone even the smallest things that need to be done.
The same applies to your fitness life. But you can consider yourself lucky on this count - in this article, we will discuss four scientifically-backed tips that will help you to get the body of your dreams!
Yes, this definitely works - set yourself a desired reward. This might be a tasty healthy dinner after a workout or an episode of your favorite show after a morning jog. The key here is to be more specific and take little steps.
For example, some people set vaguer goals like to get a ‘better skin’ or ‘slimmer body’ and it might even work. However, if you anticipate something satisfying as a reward for your efforts, it is most likely that you will be doing your best and not feel guilty.
Just like that, journalist Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Businessbelieves that making your rewards more tangible works the best. He states:
“An extrinsic reward is so powerful because your brain can latch onto it and make the link that the behavior is worthwhile.”
He further states that this particular phenomenon is called “habit loop”, and it includes a cue to trigger the behavior, the routine and then the reward. Then, in the long run, the motivation becomes intrinsic, while the brain starts to link the sweat at the gym with the spike of endorphins. These little guys, endorphins, are responsible for that feeling of euphoria that you get after hitting the gym. After your brain learns to perceive the exercise itself as a reward, you are on the right track!
Making every day promises to ourselves is a normal thing. Yet, one of the studies shows that we are much more likely to hold on to our pledges when we make them public.
One of the options is to share your promise to yourself with your friends so they keep you accountable. You can even make a bet - every time you skip the gym, you have to pay your friend, say $5.
Another great method is to share your process on social media - we have seen many people reaching amazing goals, stating that their followers keep them accountable. Simply put, they feel guilty or embarrassed for not completing one or the other task they have set.
Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University who studies health decision science has stated the following:
“It’s a simple notion of changing the cost. I say I’m going to make a commitment to do something for a certain amount of time, such as exercising 30 minutes three times a week for 12 weeks. If I don’t do that, I’m going to pay some kind of penalty, whether it’s monetary or the embarrassment of having friends know I didn’t live up to my word.”
Following on this, there is a great website calledStickk that aims to aid people in reaching their goals. Studies featuring people that have created contracts with stickk.com, Mr.Goldhaber-Fiebert and others have concluded that those who signed longer contracts ended up exercising more than those with shorter commitments.
Change the way you think
Positive thoughts are always very much needed - many people even believe that thoughts can materialize, which is also making sense from the scientific point of view. When you are continuously thinking positively, you are programming your mind for the positive outcome and, unconsciously, it is easier for you to reach that goal.
Another great tip here is to actually imagine your thoughts. For instance, to motivate yourself to go jogging in the morning, think of the bright and warm sun, and the light breeze outside - we bet that sounds just awesome. Also, you will automatically want to go out for a run when you imagine yourself looking amazing in that dress you always wanted to wear!
However, these feel-good thoughts will be effective only when linked to the realistic problem-solving methods. This is according to the psychologist at New York University and author of Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, Gabriele Oettingen, PhD.
How to have these solving methods in place, you’ll ask?
After you have chosen the desired goal and visualized it, you will have to identify what is holding you back. She calls this technique “mental contrasting.” She further explains:
“After you imagine the obstacle, you can figure out what you can do to overcome it and make a plan.”
Find yourself some fitness buddies
However unfortunate this is, no one can pay you to do one extra squat or run an extra mile. In fact, even science proves it - one of the studies from the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that rewarding gym members with a gift card for exercising had almost zero impact on their workout motivation.
What, in fact, will inspire you to get that extra sweat is a supportive fitness community. Find yourself a fit squad that makes you feel good and help you to build your confidence and stamina.
So, are you ready yet to hit the gym?
Working out might be hard, and there is no doubt in that. However, what awaits you beyond all these efforts you are about to put is just priceless.
If you feel down sometimes - it is okay, everyone needs a rest, even your muscles need some days off to grow and develop. Yet, don’t make these breaks a habit - try and challenge yourself and the victory will come to you.
Keep the above mentioned tips to find fitness motivation in mind and get going!