Preparing to work out requires more than lacing up your sneakers and filling your water bottle. There’s a mental aspect too. You need to prepare your mind as much as your body.
In many ways, it’s your attitude more than your muscles that determines whether you’ll make it to the gym and stick to a consistent schedule.
If you want to reap the benefits of an active lifestyle, try these strategies for overcoming some of the most common mental barriers to exercise.
- Take a first step. Getting started is often the most difficult part of working out. Once you manage to run your first mile, you’ll start building momentum to keep moving.
- Break things down. If looking at your entire fitness plan overwhelms you, divide it up into smaller chunks. Focusing on one exercise at a time creates small victories that add up over time.
- Set goals. Another way to feel more accomplished is to establish targets that will encourage you to focus your efforts and track your progress. Think about your destination and how to get there.
- Be positive. Use your self-talk to challenge your doubts and remind yourself of your strengths. Believing that you can do something increases your chances of success, whether you’re trying to lose weight or lower your blood pressure.
- Remember your purpose. There are many reasons for working out, so figure out the benefits that are most compelling for you. Maybe you want to have more years to spend with your family or maybe you’re looking forward to being able to wear smaller sized jeans.
- Seek inspiration. Surround yourself with individuals and objects that make you feel excited about working out. Tape a picture of an Olympic athlete to your refrigerator door.
- Plan for setbacks. If you exercise long enough, there will probably come a time when other events interfere with your workout plans. Decide in advance how you’ll handle sick days or extensive business travel.
- Reward yourself. Give yourself something to look forward to. Buy yourself a new outfit when you work your way up to doing 10 push-ups without a break.
- Play music. Listening to upbeat songs provides an instant boost. Even on days when you’re feeling sluggish, your favourite tunes can turn things around. Work out at a studio where you like the music selections or create your own playlist.
- Socialise more. Team up with a workout buddy and discuss your progress on social media with others who are trying to shape up. Share encouragement and feedback. Enthusiasm spreads quickly.
- Practice mindfulness. Living in the present moment enriches any activity. That’s especially true for physical exercise. Giving your full attention to each movement will help you to maintain proper alignment, so you accomplish more and reduce your risk of injuries.
- Make it a habit. Your body and mind will be primed to exercise if you make the decision to work out more automatic. Develop a regular routine so you head straight to the gym after work instead of trying to resist the temptation to go to happy hour or watch TV.
- Think broadly. Integrate exercise into the rest of your life. Healthy patterns reinforce each other. When you’re working out regularly, you’ll want to eat green vegetables and go to bed on time.
- Have fun. Remember to enjoy your workouts. Pick activities that you love, like playing volleyball or doing yoga.
Train the smart way by engaging both your mind and body. When you’re mentally prepared to work out, exercise becomes easier and more effective. You’ll reach your fitness goals and enjoy more energy and greater well-being.
(Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash)