Does the following happen to you? You think that you should really get more exercise, but feel absolutely no motivation to start. You know that it’s good for your health and would help you lose those spare tires on your waist, but it makes no difference.
I believe that having no motivation to exercise is mostly a mindset problem. It’s caused by faulty thinking about exercise and physical activity.
We tend to have pretty fixed ideas about what exercise should be like. For instance, do images like the ones listed below run thorough your mind when you think about exercise? (These examples are taken from my mind).
- panting and sweating buckets while running on a treadmill
- hurtling like an uncoordinated popcorn during a high impact aerobics class
- having to wake up at 5:30 am every morning to take that mandatory 2 mile run
- having to do 50 sit-ups and 20 push-ups everyday
I think all the activities above are actually a recipe for getting injured if you’re in a less than mint physical condition! If you’re anything like I am, I bet you aren’t bothered to take a brisk 10 minute walk because you think it doesn’t “count”. Or it never crosses your mind that instead of going to the gym, you could choose some physical activity on the basis of how enjoyable it is, not how many calories you consume.
Wake up! This is not the Biggest Loser, it’s your life.
How to Beat Lack of Motivation
I have my issues with motivation too. One thing that seems to help is applying a technique I learned to use when I had to deal with a gigantic writing block last spring. The technique is a cognitive therapy technique used to test your beliefs or expectations against reality* When I used the technique to beat my writing procrastination, I noticed that I expected it to be consistently more difficult and less satisfying than it actually was.
If you want to try the technique yourself, choose a physical activity and use the form below to predict how pleasurable, satisfying or difficult (or whatever you choose to measure) you expect it will be before you start. After the exercise, note how difficult the activity actually was. Then compare the results and take note of any trends.
As an example, I wrote down my last Sunday results . Notice how much more satisfying both activities – even vacuuming! – actually were than I expected.
Why not choose your own activities and do your own testing? And come back to tell me about your results!
*from David Burns’ Feeling Good Handbook.