Let’s face it, it is hard to motivate yourself to work out. If we humans were good at motivating ourselves to exercise, everyone would be in amazing shape and none of us would struggle with our fitness. Wouldn’t that be wonderful.
But unfortunately, that is just not the reality that we live in. In this reality motivating ourselves to exercise is not easy and almost every single one of us struggles with our motivation at some point.
What’s worse is that when we succumb to exercise avoidance, we blame ourselves. We imagine that if we had more will power or if we were better people, we would work out consistently.
Well, I’m here to tell you that it is not your fault. There are very specific reasons that we avoid exercise, and they are universal. As a matter of fact, if you are struggling to motivate yourself to work out it is proof that you are human, because this is a very human problem.
In this short post/video I’m going to break down 3 of the major reasons that you’re not motivated to work out and how to fix each one of them.
Are you ready to get motivated? Good. Let’s get into it.
Reason #1: THE AVOIDANCE OF DISCOMFORT
Number 1 on my list of the 3 major reasons that you’re not motivated to work out is number one for a reason. In my opinion, it is the number one killer of fitness goals.
I’m talking about the avoidance of discomfort.
It’s should come as no surprise to anyone that the we humans avoid the things that make us uncomfortable. It’s so common that most of the time we’re not even consciously aware that we’re doing it.
And what could be more uncomfortable than intentionally working your body into a sweat, burning out your muscles until they’re exhausted and achy, and using up the little bit of energy that you have just to make it through the day.
Only a personal trainer would get excited about that.
When you think about it, it’s a miracle that any of us can find the motivation to work out at all. Ever.
And as is the case with most problems, the fix is written right into the problem itself. In this case, the way we think about exercise.
“The fitness industry has sold us this idea of “no pain, no gain”. I don’t know about you, but I avoid pain whenever I can.”
So, if you think that exercise must be painful to work, of course it’s going to be hard to motivate yourself to do it. The same way that it’s hard for you to motivate yourself to go to the DMV, or to do your taxes. As I mentioned earlier, humans are programed to avoid pain whenever possible.
The fix in this case is simple. Notice that I didn’t say easy. Because what I’m going to suggest is simplicity itself, but far from easy to do.
The fix is to stop thinking about exercise as a painful experience.
That means deprogramming yourself from the idea that a workout must painful to be effective. It doesn’t. In my experience, a painful association with working out is the one of the major causes of exercise program breakdown.
Because as humans we avoid discomfort whenever we can.
So, if you want to work out consistently and build an exercise habit that lasts a lifetime, the key is to find a way to enjoy it.
Changing the way you think about exercise is the most powerful tool that you have to motivate yourself to work out and that’s why it’s number one on my list of motivation fixes.
Reason #2: OVERWHELM
Working out is complicated. If you’ve ever tried to work out on your own, you know from personal experience just how complicated it can be.
First you have to find the time to work out, find a place to work out, drive there, find a place to park, change into your workout clothes, carve out some room to work out with all the other people there and that’s just the beginning.
Once you’re there, you have to know what exercises you should be doing and how to do them correctly, in perfect form.
I’m overwhelmed just thinking about all of that, and I do this for a living.
It’s no wonder that we find it hard to motivate ourselves to work out. It’s a big, overwhelming multi-task job that takes a lot of time, planning, and expertise.
There’s an old saying about tackling big overwhelming jobs and it starts with the question; how do you eat an elephant? The answer is; one bite at a time.
And that is exactly how you should approach the overwhelming complexity of motivating yourself to workout.
Instead of looking at all the goes into a working out, try focusing on one small step at a time. Trying to take on everything, all at once is a losing proposition. It’s just too much to handle.
A better, far gentler approach, is to eat this elephant one bite at a time.
Look at this way, if you haven’t worked out in months and you sneak in one 10-minute workout (see what I did there?) it’s 100% more than you’ve been doing.
Not only that but adding a 10-minute workout is going to leave you wanting more, which will bring you back the next day for another workout. Which will start a chain reaction that eventually leads to a sustainable workout habit, which eventually leads to the lean body that you want.
Not sure what to do for that 10-minutes? No problem. Take a 10-minute walk. It may not be the most complicated workout you’ve ever done, but that’s the point.
“Trying to take on too much too soon will only lead to overwhelm, and an eventual breakdown of your program and a disappointment that is hard to come back from.”
When you start to get overwhelmed by the thought of working out and all the complexity that goes into it, start with one small thing that you can sustain easily and let that momentum build until it carries you all the way to your goal.
#3 TRYING TO GO IT ALONE.
There is something in all of us that has an aversion to asking for help.
I don’t know where you got the idea that you had to do everything on you own, but I know where I got it.
In my childhood home it was consider a sign of weakness to admit that I needed help with anything, and I carried that lesson into my adulthood.
Needless to say, I suffered a lot of unnecessary disappointment and setbacks from trying to do everything all by myself.
I know I’m not alone in that struggle.
All too often we try to do it everything on our own and when we inevitably find it impossible to sustain, we blame ourselves for not being strong enough, or not having enough willpower.
The truth is that it takes a lot of guts to not only admit that we need help, but to reach out and ask for it.
But we need to find the bravery to do just that because the success of our work out program, and all the benefits you get from working out depends on it.
It took me many years to realize that the lessons that I had been taught as a young man were just plain wrong.
Sometimes we need help.
Especially when it comes to building an exercise habit. Making a change like that is a complex undertaking which involves unraveling old, ingrained habits and trying to replace them with new and improved ones.
Easier said than done.
It takes a massive amount of energy to change and very little energy to stay the same and our brains are always looking for the path of least energy. That’s why we stay trapped making the same mistakes over and over again.
The fix for that trap is to get some help with it.
If you’re trying to build a workout habit, there are worse things that you can do than hire a personal trainer. Not only is the complexity of what and how to work out taking care of for you, but there is a natural accountability to having someone waiting for you to show up for your workout and checking in with you if you don’t.
In my experience, just that expectation is enough to get my clients in the gym even when they don’t feel like working out that day.
Not to mention that a good personal trainer will know how to make the workout engaging and fun. When it’s done right, you’ll leave the gym feeling better than when you walked in.
No one in the history of the world has ever regretted pushing through and working out when they didn’t feel like it.
“Having the guidance, support, and gentle accountability of a trusted fitness professional makes all the difference when it comes to building and sustaining a workout habit.”
If you’re struggling to motivate yourself to work out, I recommend enlisting the help of a personal trainer that can provide that guidance, support and most important of all, the gentle accountability that keeps you on track even on the days when the last thing you want to do is workout.
Those are the 3 of the major reasons that you find it hard to motivate yourself to work out and the fixes for each one of them.
You discovered how the avoidance of discomfort is the number one killer of motivation and how taking the discomfort out of your workout can fix that problem before it becomes a problem.
We also talked about how overwhelm can thwart the best laid plans and how to eat that elephant one bite at a time.
Finally, you learned how important it is to ask for help especially when you think you “should” be able to motivate yourself, all by yourself.
I hope that you got something out of this post, and if you’re still reading this then I imagine that’s something in my words is resonating with you.
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Thank you for stopping by and I will look forward to seeing you next time at The Fix.