How to Make Your Exercise a 'Must' not an Option

by Gina Paulhus, CPT

Humans are naturally most motivated in 'crisis' situations. For instance, if there is a huge snowstorm and you need to get to work, you will drop everything to go out and shovel, snow blow or call the plow company. You suddenly find the time to do the chore or make the phone call. This is because when something is perceived as important and urgent it's easy to be motivated to solve the problem. However, there are other things that are equally important to us, but because they don't necessarily seem urgent we just don't make the time to do them. One of them is to work out regularly and get to the grocery store so you don't end up ordering take out--again.

How do we take the seemingly optional things--that are nevertheless extremely important to our health, self esteem and well being--and attach urgency to them?

One way can be to develop a consequence for fauling to perform the desired task. You may make a deal with a loved one that, if you don't complete x number of workouts each week, there is some consequence such as giving that person $50. Your kids surely will love to be involved in this one!

Another way to create urgency is simply to schedule the workout or shopping trip like you would any other important appointment. Just seeing it in writing or having it alarm as an appointment on your phone can be enough to make the necessity of the task real and urgent.

Finally, you can keep a short list of 'reasons why' at hand. When we are pressed for time, the workout just doesn't seem as important anymore, and the tendency is to think that it can be put off until later. However, we all know that later never comes. Have the top three reasons why you want to get in shape, and keep it in a place where you can see it when you are faced with the temptation to blow off your workout. Remembering the reasons why can be a powerful motivator.

My reasons why are:

1. I want to be able to continue doing gymnastics, which I cannot do if I am not in shape.

2. My autoimmune disease is much better managed when I stay active, and

3. My mental health is much better when I stay active. I don't want to give up these benefits, so keeping these reasons paramount in my mind is crucial when I just don't feel like working out.

Once you're able to string a few weeks together of fitting in your workouts and grocery shopping trips, you'll find it starts becoming a habit and it doesn't feel so hard anymore. In the meantime, execute these three strategies and you'll find yourself finally following through with your health and fitness goals.

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