Extreme Motivation: How to Start and Keep Your Exercise Habit
"How soon ‘not now' becomes ‘never'."
- Martin Luther
You know you've got to get moving. You're determined to park the car a few blocks from work, take the stairs, and hit the gym after work. But a few weeks pass and before you know it, parking spots start opening up right in front of the building, the elevator is already in the lobby, and you've worked late every night that week.
Every person goes through periods of time when it's incredibly challenging to maintain an exercise program. It's not that you don't know how to get fit, you just can't seem to stay motivated.
Here are some great tips to keep you moving. Get motivated and make exercise a permanent habit in your life.
1. Dive for dollars.
Money is the ultimate motivator. Put a dollar in a jar every time you make it to the gym. At the end of a month, reward yourself for achieving your goal and treat yourself to a massage. You'll be at the gym more often than the trainers.
2. Blackmail yourself.
Take a picture of your shirtless self holding a sign with your email address on it. Email it to a friend saying: "If I don't send you a new picture that shows serious improvement in 12 weeks, post this photo on MySpace. It's nasty, but extremely effective.
3. Embarrass yourself.
Make a mark on your calendar every time you make it to the gym or park. Seeing your motivation (or lack thereof) in black and white helps keep you going. Whether you write your goals on the side of your shoe or in your training diary, glancing at them on a daily basis will help keep you focused and motivated. Some people tape their goals to their bathroom mirror or refrigerators. Do whatever works to make you remember what you promised yourself.
4. Pre-pack your gym bag.
Getting your stuff ready the night before will make you more likely to use it. It's that simple, so you've got no excuses.
5. Find the fun.
Forget about the "no pain, no gain" attitude. The mind, body and soul connection is very important here, don't forget to have fun. Try a new sport or class. Adding variety, group support and competition can increase your likelihood of exercising. Or pick an activity you've always loved, like biking or walking outdoors. The more enjoyable it is, the more likely you'll stick with it.
6. Make a workout playlist.
Studies found men who do their workout to music do so for longer and at a higher intensity than men who exercise in silence. It can push you to do more and to exercise longer, even longer than you planned. Who doesn't get a surge of energy every time they hear their favorite tune?
7. Challenge yourself.
Sign up for a race and send in the entry fee. Whatever your activity — running, biking, walking, swimming — there are hundreds of races offered all over the world. Working toward an event keeps you on track. Every time you exercise you'll be closer to meeting your goal. The minute you mail in your entry fee, you'll have a whole new sense of purpose. And the feeling of accomplishment you get from completing your event is like nothing else.
8. Go through the motions.
On days when you don't feel like working out, try to perform a single set of your favorite exercise. It's likely that once you've started, you'll finish. If you still don't feel like it, go home. This way, you never actually stop exercising.
9. Love thy neighbor and love thyself.
You can't leave a neighbor standing on the corner checking his watch. He knows where you live. So when you'll make a date with a neighbor to go for a run you'll keep it, and you'll have a great time. Also plan a regular appointment with your neighbors — Saturday mornings get together and lift weights; it's a great way to start the weekend.
10. Buy a year's worth of protein.
If a guy believes a supplement will help him achieve better results, he'll be more inclined to keep up his workouts in order to reap the full benefits. Buying a large supply invests in your future fitness.
11. Don't count the miles.
Don't exercise to burn more calories or lose weight. There are more important things than burning calories taking place during your workout. Newfound self-esteem and stress reduction are just two positive aspects of many that come to mind. If you're always focusing on burning off your morning doughnut, of course exercise seems like a chore. Try exercising for the sake of your health, not your body.
12. Learn to love lycra.
Buying snazzy new workout shorts or comfy new cross-trainers can really get you fired up to work out. Once you realize how much better the right equipment makes a workout, you'll be loving your sports outfit.
13. It's about time.
Your mood motivates you to exercise, so timing is everything. If you aren’t up for a workout don’t feel guilty about postponing. On the other hand, exercise has been known to improve a bad mood. Work out your aggressions in the gym instead of at home or work.
Some days it's tough to get moving: not enough time, too tired, no energy. Counteract those excuses by discovering what motivates you, and use these strategies to develop and maintain an active lifestyle.
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