Peek inside any fitness facility in the U.S. at 6 o’clock in the morning and you will see an astounding number of people already breaking a sweat.
The fact that they peel themselves off the sheets that early to exercise defines them as a motivated bunch.
As someone who makes his living motivating people to live healthier lives, I am often asked, “How can people exercise that early in the morning?” I usually ask for a guess. The number one answer is, “Those people were probably born motivated.”
Built, Not Born
Do you know someone who has transformed from a complete sofa spud to an exercise fanatic? Look into your network of friends, family, and coworkers and you will probably find several healthy converts. Genetics plays a big role in how fast you can run and how high you can jump, but it has little or nothing to do with your desire to be physically active.
Motivation is built on experience, not on information or even persuasion. In other words, you really cannot be talked into being motivated: You have to experience the benefits yourself. This may sound like heresy coming from a motivational speaker, but I cannot instill lasting motivation into your life. And neither can anyone else. My goal is to instill in you the desire to give it a good shot. Why? Because the minute you begin to exercise, your mind and body will make the connection between exercise and feeling good—and your motivation will instantly grow.
As you finish each workout, you can facilitate the mind-body motivation connection by simply asking yourself or your training buddies, “Did the exercise today make you feel better?” Personal trainers often ask their clients this to start building the right mental associations with exercise.
If you are exercising and your motivation hasn’t grown to your expectations, then my next question would be, “How often do you miss workouts?” If your answer is anything more than “rarely,” then you have found your problem.
Take an honest look at your lifestyle. Does it encourage consistency or does it often put you in positions where your only choice is to skip your exercise time? For example, do you pack your exercise clothes for the day during the morning rush for work, or do you lay them out the night before? In the morning rush you will sooner or later forget, run short on time, or pack the wrong clothes. You’ll sabotage consistency. Unnecessarily missing workouts is the fast track to frustration and lost motivation.
Long-term exercisers have structured their lives, knowingly or not, in ways that increase their odds of maintaining consistency. They have standing workout times, often with the same workout buddies; water bottles on their desks and in their cars; and healthy snacks in their briefcases. They’re constantly tweaking their lifestyles so they can maintain momentum. The payoff of actively building such a lifestyle is that in only a short time making healthy choices becomes automatic. You won’t even have to think about it!