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Feelings, not hardÂ facts, are the key toÂ getting motivated to workout – and even more importantly, they are the key toÂ stay motivated.
Knowing how to get motivated to workout is probably more important than the nature of the actual workout. Without motivation, people never start in the first place and without the ability to stay motivated, many will tend to simply give up at some point.Â
A workout program provides a gradual return. Without motivation and the ability to sustain it, there’s little chance for success. It’s why lots of home gym gear ends up as a coat rack or just gathers dust.
Getting motivated to workout and staying motivated is all about positive emotion. This article will give you some practical tips on how to generate those feelings and keep them going over the long term.
I could tsunami you with study after academic study proving the benefits of exercise, especially for people like Baby Boomers. In fact, recent studies have shown that resistance training in particular can:
In addition, the American Heart Association recently found that those who adopt heart healthy habits, like regular exercise and weight control, can dramatically reduce the risk of heart attack and trim the risk of cancer by 38%. And another study found that regular exercise can take decades of aging off our skin.
If you want to see more information on recent studies, please see my menu category Reverse Aging. There’s several articles there with links to reports and studies.
And I’ve included a variety of them at the bottom of this post, as well.
It’s powerful information! AndÂ those facts might motivate you to make a plan to exercise, but they’re not going to motivate you while you’re actually sweating it out in the gym. Right?
It’s hard to get pumped up with a mental mantra in your head about mortality stats.
Think about it fellas… right before the big game, does the coach have the team quietly study the chalkboard and stare at facts? Or does he try to whip up their emotionsÂ for God, country and good ol’ Wossamotta U?
I used to think thatÂ facts alone could and should motivate people, but it’s obvious that they don’t. Us Baby Boomers have gone from the healthiest generation to the least healthy in history. We are breaking records for obesity and heading for a health disaster as we age.
People are not stupid. They can read the facts here or anywhere else and understand what’s at stake. So, what is holding them back from taking action?
Why doesn’t everyone just grab a workout guide and hit the gym?
After all, us Boomers invented working out. The first gym chains, like Golds and L.A. Fitness, opened for us in the 70’s and 80’s. We jogged. Played racquet ball. Shot hoops. Softball Beer Leagues. Aerobicized with Jane and Jazzercized with Julie. We were all over it.
Then… middle age, kids, careers. What happened? We just kind of lost it. Got fat and gave up.
James Gavin, a professor at Concordia University in Montreal, investigated our emotional motivations for exercise, from looking good to having fun. He found that for the Baby Boom generation, passion is most important when it comes to staying motivated to exercise.
Gavin says a person will be more motivated to put in time on the treadmill if he or she knows it will help have more fun skiing in winter, versus viewing it as a tedious punishment.
But he says Baby Boomers are not feeling the joy in our workouts.Â He says we need to find “deep personal meaning in the physical activity” and thinks the answer lies in getting the fitness industry to make their gyms more fun and engaging.
Makes sense. But hold on, professor…
There is also a growing body of research that says most people prefer a workout routine done solo versus a group or class setting.
In an online survey conducted by Reuters, 77% of the 1,200 respondents said they prefer working out alone. Running and Resistance Training were their top two workout choices.
Let’s assume professor Gavin is absolutely correct about passion, but let’s also recognize that things like resistance training and running do not typically engage people in a ‘fun’ team activity.
How do those of us who choose resistance training as our focus, and prefer to workout alone, manage our motivations and emotions? It might be easy if we’re talking about joining a beach volley ball league, but what about the weight room?
Science has has thoroughly researched motivation in the work environment and other places. The general consensus is that we are human and it is all about how we feel regardless of the activity. So, I figure that applies to us in the workout room, as well.
We think to build a plan
But we rely on feelings to make it work
So what do we do? Can we get motivatedÂ outside of fun team sports?
Yes. Here’sÂ the proven formula for how motivation works on our feelings. AndÂ how we canÂ apply that to our workouts.
Many of us are overweight or obese. So, we’re starting off in a tough spot. You may be unhappy with yourself and how you look and feel.
The little devil that lives on your shoulder may be sabotaging you with negative thoughts. “This won’t work, why bother, I always give up…”
You’re not going to get anywhere with negative thoughts about yourself. Monitor your self talk and catch yourself going negative. Be your own cheerleader. Replace those with positive reviews ofÂ your goals:
If we were at work, praise from the boss can make us feel great and want to go the extra mile, so can special recognition among our peers or a raise in pay.
Rewards work. In this case, you’re the boss of you. So, be a good boss…
Luckily for me, she also works out and we occasionally even share our home gym space.
But more importantly, I have someone to talk to about what I’m doing and how it’s going. She gets it and gives me a pat on the back or a kick in the ass when I need it.
Care enough about yourself and those you love to really want this. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how experienced. You can realize tremendous benefits at any age or level.
To feel good. Look good. Live longer and better.
Before you start, make a plan: 4 – 5 days per week, 30 – 40 minutes per workout
I’ve been working out for nearly 50 years now. I confess that nearly every time, I still have to battle the devil on my left shoulder who tries to talk me out of it.
In my case, I focus on knowing that I’m going to feel better during and after the workout. The endorphins will flow and I’ll get that natural high.
I’ll feel good about myself for conquering the left-shoulder devil. I’ll feel good knowing that I’m burning calories and building muscle.
And every single time, I do feel good.
Some days, it’s a struggle to get started. It’s us vs the negative devils.
But we can win.
The key is, just get in the gym and do that first rep. Then the second and so on. Before you know it, you will be in the groove. Focus on the Mind/Muscle Connection and rock a great workout.
I have a ritual:
You can do it, with or without the gum. But definitely use music.
Start slowly at first. Your first goal is simply to follow through on showing up for each workout day. Don’t get hung up if you’re not killing it in the first couple of weeks. It’s gradual. Ramp up. You’ll get there soon enough.
You can do this!