Motivating Yourself for Exercise: Brain Power trumps Willpower

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Ok, there’s no denying that it’s sometimes very difficult to peel yourself up off that couch to start your walk or workout routine– even though you know that your health and well being require it.   That big blob of inertia just won’t seem to let go of you sometimes.   Well cheer up, there’s a way you can make it easy on yourself and reach all of your fitness goals – if you just bring a little “Mental Jiu Jitsu” into play….

Lets take a second here and analyze why you have such a reluctance to any form of physical exercise.  One possibility is that you might  be short circuiting your own plans without even knowing it.  You are very likely making a mountain out of a molehill, and building up an exaggerated  dread of the coming “ordeal”.

When we’re faced with an unpleasant task we have a natural tendency to downplay the reward of its completion and overestimate the effort required.  “I don’t have to start right this very second.”  Or “It might not really be worth all the work, there is some controversy about it’s value you know.”  Sure.  The brain gets very creative when trying to avoid an uncomfortable proposition.  And as you can see this mental train is going off a cliff; you need to redirect it mighty quick.   Why not simply flip the switch?  Downplay the effort required and sweeten the payoff.

This is actually the more realistic viewpoint by the way.  You’re not stepping into the cage for a round with Cain Velasquez (the heavyweight champ), you’re only taking your pooch for a one mile walk, or doing 20 minutes with the weights.  After that of course you can grab a beer and plop right back on that couch where you are right now.  “Mission accomplished – where was I?”

In addition to a more realistic perspective on your exertion you have to do as those positive thinking chanters say and visualize that payoff.  What exactly are you working out for?  To eliminate or mitigate the threat of disease?  To get off the diabetes drugs and your other “issues“?  To develop more energy and build a strong youthful body?  Turn your mind deliberately to those visions.  They will be reality.  Now you are ready for move #2 in the mental jiu jitsu program.  The start.

Remember to downplay the exertion.  Don’t tell yourself you’re going to bust your butt for an hour.  Just put on your shoes and go.  Start at a low pitch then simply keep going if you’d like.  Once you begin you find that it’s really no big deal after all, and that big ugly blob of inertia begins to melt really fast!


About Warren Dostie

Fitness trainer, author and avid anti-aging specialist. Age 55
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