I’ll admit it: I’m not a morning person. I spent years hitting the snooze button until my morning workout window blinked away and I absolutely had to get out of bed. Comfortable sleep is certainly important to me, but so is my exercise routine. I knew I had to break out of this rut of procrastination, and seven years ago I did just that by using the techniques I’ll share with you here.
Change Your Self-Talk
Many people have limiting beliefs they’re not even aware of that keep them from achieving their health and wellness goals. The brain simply does not process negative thoughts and feelings, so being overly critical of yourself will not encourage you to undertake behavior to correct what you don’t like. In other words, avoid statements like, “I’m fat,” or “I’m lazy,” which keep your emotional baggage “packed” by perpetuating the conditions you’re focusing on. Instead, unpack what’s keeping you stuck by improving your self-talk language. You can improve your fitness by reframing your language to include only positive statements, such as, “I am eating right,” and “I am strong.”
See Your Way to Seizing the Day
Many people put off exercise until later in the day when they are tired, their energy has dropped, and they are more likely to find excuses not to do it. Instead, try visualizing yourself as healthy and fit first thing when the alarm goes off. Many people hear their alarm in the morning and immediately think about how comfortable their bed is, then hit the snooze bar. This used to be me, and this action often leads to missed workouts. Now, I create an image in my mind that shows me how good I will look at the gym or out at the beach if I do my workout. You could even put a skinny photo of yourself on your bedroom nightstand. Then, when the alarm goes off, look at the photo and feel yourself getting out of bed more easily. If you don’t have a skinny photo, use a magazine photo that empowers you. Both external and internal images that empower you will work!
I’ve heard every excuse in the book from my clients; they may be focusing on how terrible their parking space is going to be, or how packed the gym gets, or how they hate being sweaty. When you focus on the reasons you don’t feel like working out, of course it is going to be hard for you and you’re more likely to procrastinate. Instead, change your focus and think about your end result. Think about how you’ll look in your swimsuit; create a picture in your mind of how strong and healthy your body will be if you keep working out. Think about athletes who are preparing to win the Super Bowl. They’re not going to let parking challenges get in their way of a football workout or game; they’re going to find solutions! And so will you when you focus on your goals.
Set An Anchor
After you finish your workout, choose a place on your physical body—such as an earlobe or your wrist—where you can anchor the positive feelings of accomplishment and wellness from exercising. For example, give your left earlobe a squeeze so your body kinesthetically remembers how good the workout feels. This way, any time you squeeze your earlobe, your body associates the good feelings of working out with that sensation. Creating such an anchor links your chosen motion with feeling good, positive momentum, and achieving your goal. Now you’ve got a reminder in your body, not just in your brain or your calendar!
Choose Your Word
Pick a word that you can say to yourself (silently or out loud) that moves you into action. For me, it’s the word “motivation.” One woman I know uses the phrase “on fire.” Whatever you choose should put you in a motivated state of mind. Use the word when you are succeeding at being motivated. That way when you’re feeling less than motivated, just saying the word or phrase will get your mindset back on track.
Play That Funky Music!
Triggers that involve the senses are the best ways to motivate. We’ve discussed physical touch, words, mindset and more. One other tried-and-true method is music. Get into your flow with your own personal musical mojo. Whether it’s soft music for stretching or hard, intense beats for cardio or weight lifting, music can motivate and help you reach your fitness goals.
Dan T. Nguyen