Get Off the Couch and Get Fit
by Angie Miller
Six Ways to Motivate Yourself to Get Off the Couch and Get Fit
What do you do when the couch sounds better than cardio and you’d rather make muffins than work on your muscles? Try these six strategies that are sure to give you success.
1. Prompts are Powerful: Prompts are little reminders that serve as motivators, such as posters or sticky notes that you hang throughout your house reminding you to workout. When you place your shoes by your bed so they’re waiting for you in the morning, or you put your workout clothes in your car so you’re ready to exercise after work, those are prompts. In one study, cartoon posters were placed near the elevators in a public building to encourage stair climbing (Browness, Stunkard, & Albaum, 1980). The percent of people using the stairs rather than the escalators increased from 6 to 14% within one month. Wow!!
2. Like it or Leave it: I’ve probably said this 100 1000 10,000 times, but if it’s not something you enjoy what are the chances you’ll keep doing it? No one wants to repeat a difficult or painful experience no matter how many calories the commercial claims you’re going to burn. Even if it’s only “15 minutes,” to a fantastic body, (or so they claim), if those 15 minutes make you unable to walk for five days it’s a sure bet you won’t be seeing that body anytime soon. If walking is what you enjoy, then walk. There’s no right way or best way, it’s the way that makes you want to keep doing it- again, and again, and again. That’s how you burn calories!
3. Reap the Rewards: Who says you don’t deserve a new outfit if you set a goal to workout three days a week for three weeks and you accomplish that goal? A new pair of tennis shoes, a new fitness tracker, or a new workout top all go a long way toward keeping your spirits high and getting you excited to accomplish your next goal.
Warning: Don’t wait to too long to reward yourself. If you haven’t exercised for a year and you’re just getting back on track, start by rewarding yourself once a week, then taper it off to twice a month, then once a month, etc.
4. Keep an Exercise Log: When I told my indoor cycling class about exercise logs and how they’re proven to increase exercise motivation, Jim, a 74-year-old gentleman in my class shared his own personal story. Jim has kept an exercise diary for 20 years and his motivator is that he “doesn’t like to see white space.” In other words, Jim is intrinsically motivated. He’s not competing with anyone but himself. His motivation, (my words, not his)- is that he wants to be as good as he was yesterday, the best he can be today, and healthy enough to see tomorrow.
5. Tackle Time Management: Did you know that the number one reason people cite for not exercising is lack of time? 69% report this as a major barrier, but a closer look at schedules generally reveals that this is more perception than reality. In the end, it boils down to time management and priorities. One recommendation is to fill out a time management log for one full week, preferably one that comes in 15 or 30-minute increments. At the end of the week, categorize and then prioritize. Determine how much of your time is spent in activity that is “optional,” that could be spent exercising, (social media, TV, internet surfing). You don’t have to set aside a one-hour chunk of time to exercise, or even 30 minutes. It can be a 10-minute walk in the morning before work, a 20 minute Booty Burner at lunch of after work, (check out the one I have in Bedroom Body™ DVD), and a 10 minute stretch or meditation before bed. The meditation doesn’t burn calories, but it’s proven to help us regain focus, reduce our stress, and keep our brain healthy.
6. Do it for YOU! It might be tempting to “get fit fast” after a big break up, or to lose those last five pounds before your class reunion, but those are short term goals for a long term commitment. Not to mention, those are goals that make you want to look good for others, not for yourself. I exercise for increased confidence, better clarity and ability to focus, and a sense that “I got this,” that I can tackle whatever comes my way. In other words I exercise for me, and because of that I’ve exercised consistently for over two and a half decades. Do it for you, no one else, and you’ll do it for a lifetime.
Best to you in Health and Happiness~
Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com