If you have ever set workout goals and resolutions to show up regularly to the gym or a workout class, then you probably know how hard it gets a few weeks later. In fact, many people make New Year workout resolutions and are great for the first three weeks, only to fall back to their original habits and schedules.
The desire is always there, but getting fitness motivation is still a challenge – especially when there are things you could be doing that you have enjoyed all your life. According to studies, there are a few ways you can motivate yourself to get to a work out, but none of these ways are going to be easy.
It is said that it takes 21 consecutive days of doing the same routine to make it part of your second nature, as in a new habit. Unfortunately, most will give it all up 28 days later, and it only gets harder than before.
Nothing to worry about though, there are four scientifically proven ways that will motivate you to go out and meet your workout requirements for the day regardless of what comes up. Here is a brief look at each one:
Table of Contents
1. Start Having Post-Workout Treats
Doctors and researchers alike seem to agree that treats will always create an intrinsic relationship and quickly turn a routine into a habit.
Similar to your pets, when you always give your pet a treat after accomplishing something nice, such as sitting down at your order or pooping in the right location, they quickly make it a habit to follow your orders. Although you may assume they are doing that because of the treat, studies show that stopping the treat does not change the pet’s behavior afterwards since the brain already made the connection.
It may be a little different for humans, but the science is the same. According to Charles Duhhig, journalist and author of the book Power of Habit, treats can help you create a neurological habit-loop, which basically involves a cue that triggers a given action.
For instance, giving yourself your favorite smoothie or having a leftover treat after working out can motivate you to train even harder the next time you go. It also gives you something to look forward to while you're working out and it is immediately associated with the workout so you do not find the treat as amazing before the actual workout.
With time, your brain will link the strain and pain to the sweet sensation and feeling of a treat afterwards. This causes a natural release of endorphins (the feel good hormone) that also motivates you to work harder and better as you anticipate even better moments.
Some people may find benefits such as better health and a lean weight motivating enough, but if this does not work for you, consider treats.
2. Sign Your Commitment Contract
This is another scientifically proven fitness motivation that can give you the drive needed to show up at your gym or training class without feeling bored or exhausted. A contract needs to be signed between two people, as research has shown that pledging your commitment to yourself will have no real benefits.
Making these pledges in front of your friends, on the other hand, will push you into doing more and finding better ways to keep your end of the bargain. Indeed, researchers recommend signing a commitment contract with your friends or closest associate.
You can agree to pay $20 every time you skip your workout. It does not necessarily have to be monetary, as embarrassment from friends will do, but harsher penalties always work best.
From a survey done on commitment contract sites, researchers found out that those who made long-term commitments worked out longer and harder than those who only signed up for a few months.
The science does not take a genius to figure it out: what really motivates us humans is to be desired and respected by fellow humans, particularly those closest to our lives. We therefore won’t like to disappoint, get embarrassed, or be seen as a failure.
This is enough motivation to work out every day of the commitment contract. Signing a commitment contract is one way to assert your dedication and desire to actually make working out part of your life. It is a bold step that shows your will to make an effort.
Even if you have a lot of money and the fine does not bother you, in due time it will and you will make that effort to work out. Some people even pledge together as a group, and the individual that makes it to the most workouts will get the fines at the end of the pledge, which further motivates those that are thinking about skipping their workout that day.
3. Positive Thinking Reevaluation
Some studies have shown that those who keep thinking positively about the workout benefits and how proud they will be if they stick to the plan have a better chance at working out longer and harder. For example, if you find it very hard to wake up for a morning run, thinking about how the sun rays hitting your face feel great can motivate you to get up.
This technique focuses on the fantasies and wishes we have, but also has a lot to do with the outcome. Once you figure out the hindrance, picture the top advantages and experiences of working out. Some people may feel too tired to hit the gym after work.
To counter this exhaustion and laziness, you can shift your workout schedules to morning or early afternoon. Alternatively, you can stop by the gym before you go home and get those 30 minutes over with, as you will probably catch your second wind at the gym.
According to New York University Psychologist Gabriele Oettingen, it is important to first visualize the outcome and then figure out what is holding you back. You can then make a plan to deal with the challenge. The Rethinking Positive Thinking author also carried out a study with 51 female students and asked them to imagine the sweet sensation of eating better food.
In her studies, she determined that women that were able to identify junk food triggers could easily make the decision to reach for a fruit or something better each time the craving showed up just by visualizing the benefits and outcome of healthier eating.
Reevaluating positive thinking is therefore more about identifying not only the positive outcomes, but also the actual distractions or factors that keep you from doing what you should be prioritizing.
4. How About Getting Paid?
There is no doubt that money is such a powerful incentive that it can make people do almost anything, including working out. If you have never heard of it, there are several opportunities to get paid to work out. This is usually a cold, hard way to deal with things, but it still works. Perhaps you may not have the generous benefactor to pay you to show up for a workout session.
This should be no problem as more platforms that do just this are emerging. It involves small member communities that agree to pay you if you stick to the plan and show up for work out sessions as promised. If you skip the work out, you authorize the group to fine you directly from your credit card, PayPal, or any other automated transaction service.
While it seems weird, this is a scientifically proven fitness motivation method you can opt for. It works in two ways because showing up for workout pays you as an incentive while also skipping fines, so it is more of a commitment.
With both ways combined, this is usually enough to motivate you to show up and work out. If you have no such communities within your area, you still have the option to spearhead such movements and encourage more people to work out. There are also many MLM companies that allow you to collect a commission on workout products when people use your link or ID to order products for themselves.
Other Proven Ways To Motivate Yourself To Workout
There are many other things you can do if you really want to work out regularly but lack motivation. If working out is going to be your habit, then you might as well make sure it is fun, entertaining, and supportive to your other goals and lifestyle.
Here is a roundup of other considerations to ponder:
Fight Off Your Feelings With Feelings
Fight off bad feelings with good ones. Play the sweet music you love, watch some cool workout clips and success stories, and join workout forums to share the good vibes.
Forget The Beginning
Starting a plan can be tough because the first days generally suck! Be quick to forget the beginning, as the future holds nothing but greatness – it will only get easier!
Make Workouts A Game
People overcome disaster scenarios by making it a game, such as military trainees as they pass the seemingly impossible training by making it a game. Kids perform better in school when they make it a game.
In fact, Jerry Seinfeld became a funny comedy king by making it a game, so this is what you need to do if you're having trouble staying motivated because it will help you enjoy your workout more.
Make A Realistic Plan
Go over your schedule and make sure to plan time to work out. What time in the day do you have time for a workout? Where do you live and what facilities can you access? Do you have a DVD that you can use at home if you can't access facilities that day?
You can also meet your friends who would like to work out and make a realistic plan that can be implemented for all of you. Then once you have it, stop thinking and start working out! Not next week, today! Find out how you can sign up and start putting in the work as soon as possible.
Workout Motivation Conclusion
Regularly working out is a challenge – even to the most elite professionals who earn a living solely because they work out every day. In fact, many bodybuilders and weight lifters hire personal trainers that have a responsibility to make sure they work out according to plan, even if they have to be pushed, forced, or coerced into submission.
It is natural to feel overwhelmed, especially since workouts take a lot and the return is never instant, which is a major challenge for a modern generation that thrives off instant gratification.
However, remember that not working out today exposes you to much bigger pains in the future. The above self-motivation methods are indeed scientifically proven, but you may need to do more to find your own motivation.