Would you go to work if you didn’t receive a paycheck to compensate you for your time? For the vast majority of people, the question is simply silly: what would be the point of putting in the time and effort if there was nothing to be gained?
Exercising without purpose isn’t any different. It’s not easy to find a reason to exercise when you don’t have a clear understanding of what you hope to receive in return for your effort. If you have a hard time convincing yourself to get off the couch, click ahead to continue reading. You just might walk away with a good reason to get moving.
Your brain is wired with a desire for instant gratification. This is one reason that you might find it hard to motivate yourself to go to the gym. After all, you could spend that time curled up with a good book, engaged in a juicy soap opera, or socializing with your friends. These activities provide an immediate benefit while losing fat and building muscle don’t happen overnight. Pursuing health-related goals almost always requires you to exert consistent effort for a long period of time before results are apparent.
The best way to override your tendency to favor short-term gratification is to develop a clear understanding of what you hope to accomplish in the time you spend training. Today I would like to share a simple two-step process that will help you do just that.
Step 1: Find a reason to exercise that resonates with you on an emotional level.
Step 2: Choose a specific mode of exercise that will help you achieve that benefit.
Are you depressed or stressed out a lot of the time? If so, you could treat exercise like a mental vacation. Research suggests that yoga can help you manage anxiety and depression. I recommend taking a class with a certified teacher if you’re a beginner, because they will provide feedback that helps you perform the poses correctly. Practicing at home is okay, too, but please be mindful of your breathing pattern, since deep breathing plays a major role in the calming effect of this exercise.
Do you find it difficult to work out by yourself? If so, you could treat exercise like a bonding activity with the people you care about. Fall is here, so it would be a wonderful time to take a hike and admire the changing leaves with your significant other. If you have children, now would also be a good time to teach them how to throw a football. If your relationship is in need of excitement, you could find a group exercise or dance class to invite your partner to.
Would you like to feel more confident in your body? If so, you could treat exercise like an opportunity to develop strength that will translate into increased confidence. Lifting weights is the best way to achieve this goal. Do so consistently and grocery bags will feel start to feel lighter; jars with tight lids will become easier to open; moving heavy furniture will become less exhausting; and your body will be less prone to injury. If you’re worried about getting bulky, don’t be. For women, this is almost impossible; for men, it would take months or years of dedicated effort (click here to find out why).
It is best to perform a balanced fitness plan that incorporates strength, cardio, and flexibility. If you haven’t exercised for a long time, however, I suggest choosing just one of the three for now. Begin with the activity that will help you achieve your “why” (what’s in it for you?) most effectively. After you perform that activity consistently for a month, choose another and repeat. Tell us how you’re going to implement this material in the comments. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.
Daniel Wallen is the CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer) of the Wallen Way. He is a personal trainer, Lifehack contributor, and author of, “The Busy Woman’s Guide to Getting Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous“