Just kidding. Screw motivation.
Hear me out.
I could talk all about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, habit building, goal setting, visualization, but how many times have you told yourself, “this time I’m going to stay motivated,” and two weeks later you’ve lost that motivation? Or maybe you never gained the motivation in the first place?
There are plenty of days, weeks, even months that I don’t want to work out. I’ve found that sometimes, my brain acts like a child. I think with children instead of going through the “eat your vegetables because they’re healthy” struggle and dealing with the ensuing tantrum, it might just be easier to throw some veggies in a yummy smoothie and not mention them.
So sometimes I do the same thing to my brain to trick it into going to the gym.
I’ll start with telling myself that I will go, walk on the treadmill for five minutes, and then I am allowed to leave. And truth be told, if I’m having an incredibly rough day, I will leave after five minutes. That’s fine.
But most days after my blood has been flowing for a few minutes, I tell myself that I’m going to run. Just for five minutes. Five minutes, and then I can leave. So I run for five minutes. And after that, if I want to leave I can.
But most days after running for five minutes the weight machines look more appealing. So I tell myself, “Just three exercises” So I go and do three sets of three exercises, and sometimes in the moment I decide to increase the number of sets or reps.
But most days, once I get those exercises in, some circuit training doesn’t look as bad either. And I tell myself, “just a few more exercises,” and by the end of my gym session, I pushed out a productive 1-2 hour workout. And it all started with just 5 minutes of walking.
See I’ve spend hours researching all the best ways to motivate myself on those days when I just don’t want to go to the gym, and all of those things have failed. So I lie to myself, like you might lie to a toddler (it’s a lie told with good intention I swear) and it’s usually the only way to get myself into the gym.
If I’m outside running I might say, “I’ll run to that next tree and then stop,” and when I get to the tree I’ll say, “Ok, the next tree and then that’s it.” And I do this until I physically can’t rather than mentally can’t, because in fitness it’s often times our minds that are holding us back.
On a side note, please no one tell my brain that I am tricking it. I’ve been able to do so for years and it has yet to figure it out.