There is a famous cartoon that pictures a man sitting in a doctor’s office. The doctor says to the patient, “Well, you can exercise one hour a day or be dead for 24.”
This is how the majority of people think about exercise – as a means of delaying death. Not such a positive message, right?
Not only is it a doomsday message, but we also know from research data that the efficacy of this strategy to help people sustain an exercise commitment is dismal.
So why do we all believe that “getting healthy” is a good reason to help us sustain our exercise commitments? Because it sounds like a logical strategy and because it is the primary message we hear from most health and fitness experts around the world.
Sadly, this message is not the right hook to keep you exercising.
Achieving health and fitness is a long-term goal that takes time, energy and commitment. There is no immediate gratification associated with the idea of “HEALTH”.
As humans, we are hard-wired to want immediate gratification. Generally speaking, we want what we want, when we want it because that makes us feel good. So, how is our desire for immediate gratification tied to sustaining exercise habits over a lifetime?
It turns out that without an immediate return on investment with respect to exercise, most people will not be motivated to sustain an active lifestyle.
What can you do to increase your chances of staying active throughout your life?
Find out what your real immediate return on investment (ROI) is with exercise and focus on that!
HINT: Something positive that makes exercise a gift to yourself: “I will have increased energy and reduced stress throughout the day if I exercise!”
Keep a flexible mindset with respect to exercise. This means having an open mind about what exercise means.
HINT: You may have in mind what you would like to do for exercise, but every now and then you might not want to do it. Instead of applying willpower to “just get it done”, be flexible about what exercise might entail so you can enjoy some kind of activity without the negative impact of using willpower.
Use a successful model like MAPS as a framework for coaching yourself to exercise. What is MAPS? It is an acronym for a strategic model about exercise. It looks like this:
Meaning: What does exercise means to you?
Awareness: What are our core beliefs about exercise?
Permission: Give yourself permission to make exercise a priority.
Strategy: How are you going to implement your intentions to exercise?
TAKEAWAYS AND TIPS:
Change your language about exercise from “I should” exercise to “I am willing” to exercise.
Sustained motivation to exercise stems from the finding the RIGHT REASON we initiate exercise in the first place! When motivation is linked to distant, clinical, or abstract goals, health behaviors are not compelling enough to trump the many other daily goals and priorities they constantly compete with.
It is the lack of Permission to prioritize self-care that is often toughest nut to crack when creating a sustainable behavior change. When looking for ways to give yourself Permission to make exercise a priority, ask yourself this: Why would self-care ever be considered self-indulgent?
Make sure that your experience from exercise is positive. If exercising at high intensities produces negative feeling for you about exercise, your chances of sustaining exercise are very low. “No pain, no gain” does not work for most people – this is shown time and again in scientific research. For sustainability, you need to choose physical activities that you enjoy!
We know that moving our bodies is one of the best ways to release dopamine – the so-called “feel good” hormone in the body. How do we link knowing this to wanting to exercise? Tell yourself that by exercising today, you will feel great!
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to believe that:
You are your most functional and successful self when you exercise on a daily basis!
Do you want to know more about coaching and how it can help you? Contact Kimberly via email at Kimberly@KimberlyPutmanCoaching.com or by phone at (504)-261-1026 or for a brief consultation