I wrote this answer on Quora originally and it has garnered more than 10,000 views.
“Motivation is like bathing, you need it everyday”. -Zig Ziglar
If we go back to our ancestor days, movement/exercise was a necessity for them. They had to hunt to survive. They had to walk to find shelter. They had to keep moving if they needed to survive on a daily basis.
With todays advancement in technology exercise is taken for granted. IT’S AN OPTION…OR IT’S NOT?
What happens when we don’t exercise, and eat junk and sit all day. We can still survive, right?
Yes, we may, but it won’t be easy! Your chances of having any kind of chronic ailment will increases. You may suffer from frequent headaches, mood disorder, basically the list is endless. Bottomline is —-
“LIVING UNFIT IS HARD, LIVING FIT IS EASY”.
Did I just say that?
Ask any overweight person how they have to literally struggle to go to the gym every single day. Well, it feels like that at the start, but once you have build enough momentum ( think of an avalanche ) you become unstoppable. You don’t feel good if you don’t exercise.
For me personally, movement is so embedded in my sub-conscious mind, that I automatically get pulled toward my workouts. Come what it may, I have trained my mind to prioritize my workout over anything else. Envious? Don’t be, I have worked hard to get where I am, and I can help you do the same:)
“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end”
If you have just began to build exercise into a habit, it will be TOUGH. It may seem like you are trying to push a stationary train. Nothing happens so fast. For your body to adapt (and start building working out into a habit ) you need to give it time.
Keep at it and apply these 10 pointers to motivate yourself until you can say this proudly: Living fit is easy, while living unfit was hard.
1) Vanity is good, let it drive you; but don’t overdo it: I credit my workout habit to my desire of wanting to look good. I was extremely thin and desperately wanted to put on some brawn. You can read my entire story here.
We all have different challenges- gain weight or loss body fat. Let vanity drive you, use this energy , this feeling to propel you forward. Every time you go to a party or get together, and are conscious of your protruding belly, promise yourself that you will look the best the next time you go to such get togethers. Just make sure of two things:
Don’t look for shortcuts- weight loss pills, excessive use of supplements, drugs or steroids or even surgeries.
Secondly, vanity simply needs to be balanced out by becoming the healthiest version of yourself!
2) Start small and build it over time. Do just one push everyday. Yes just one. Key is to start small.
As James Clear says in this free guide, Transform your habits:” Its incredibly easy to get caught up in the desire to make massive changes in your life. We want to earn more, do more and be more…right now. I’ve felt those things, so I get it. Although I applaud this enthusiasm, it’s important to keep in mind that lasting change is a product of daily habits, not once-in-a-lifetime transformations. If you want to start a new habit and begin living healthier and happier, I cannot emphasize this enough: start small. In the words of Leo Babauta, “Make it so easy that you can’t say no.”
3) Practice the action habit. ACTION PRECEDES ACTION. Use mechanical force to start your mind engine. Get into the act. Successful people build routines, not will-power. A wise man once said that 50% of the work is just showing up. So if you don’t feel like going to the gym, simply put your shoes on and show up, I promise your attendance to the gym this year will go up. “Something is better than nothing” A rough draft is better than an empty page. I have almost a dozen draft on quora and my blog, articles that I want to write. Thats how I manage almost 1000 words daily.
4) Workout/Exercise first thing in the morning. Now, I am of the notion that if it has to happen, it has to happen FIRST. You see we have limited will power. Roy Baumeister’s experiment proves this fact.
If you complete all your important task before noon ( exercise being at the top of the list ) , chances are very high that they will get done!
5) Do something that you really enjoy. If you don’t enjoy weight training, don’t do it just because your trainer tells you its the only way to get lean and toned….instead I highly recommend find something that you enjoy. With so many options from Zumba, to Spinning classes, to Power Yoga to Crossfit choose something that strongly resonates with you. You are more likely to stick with it in the long term.
6) Designate a small area of your house to do your exercise: This is important, I know you have an annual gym membership ( although, stats suggest that more half of gym members are not active ). Even then, considering todays traffic condition ( unless you can see the gym from your bedroom window ), the whole process of getting ready and going to the gym can be a big task for anyone.
I am not discouraging you to go to the gym, what I am suggesting is a path of least resistance. There will be days where due to late night parties, watching bad TV till 2am, or probably not having slept properly you simply don’t feel like going to gym.
But if you have a fitness sanctuary at home, chances are very high, that you will be able to burn some calories doing basic bodyweight exercises or Yoga. This makes sure that the link is not broken, and your subconscious mind gets the signal that you are a stubborn guy who will do some movement everyday no matter what. For last 10 years, I haven’t missed any of my workout sessions due to lack of motivation ( sick days, vacations etc don’t count )
7) Set reminders throughout the day. Along side being an entrepreneur and an expert on health and fitness I consider myself a sales guy too. And the most important thing I learned in sales are follow-ups. Stats suggests that you have to get the message in front of your audience at least 7 times before you can make a sale. Think of your workout session as making a sale. Put reminders on your phone, download apps that will assist you in the same. Recently I downloaded an app, which reminds me to meditate for few minutes throughout the day!
8) Don’t listen to too many people. Too many cooks spoil the broth. Find someone who you can trust, who is friendly, who you can relate to. Find someone who is in it for the passion, someone who enjoys encouraging you to get results, who is in it for long term. Sure no one is running a charity here, and we all want to progress professionally and provide our family with the best things money can buy. But look for people, who have a genuine desire to see your success. These people are in it for passion ( money is usually a by-product ).
There are many scamsters out there who simply want to sell you the miracle diet pills, bogus supplements that promises you a ripped physique in no time! Guys, they don’t work. Period! Nor there are magic ab rockers that can give you six pack overnight. You need to work hard and have to earn your body. If it was easy everyone would do it. Its hard and that’s what makes it worth it.
Your guts and instincts will tell you the truth. Use common sense and you’ll do just fine. Just question everything and everyone !
9) Multi-task simple movement like walking with other work (this helps save time too)
-When you watch TV, commit to yourself whenever an advertisements will come you will get up and walk, or simple do 5 pushups or sit-ups.
– Every odd day commit that you will take stairs if the situation arrives.
– Stand and work. ( I have a custom made standing desk and stand 60% of the time and work, and now I feel more comfortable standing and working then sitting! See I told you living fit is easy.
-Don’t sit down and spend time with your kid ( get a dog, or if you are not married or have a kid yet ). Find opportunity to play a game with him which requires both of you to move around: Like “Hide and seek” or any sport. This low intensity exercise boosts your energy and does not tax your CNS (central nervous system). You will feel more energized after this.
-Walk more: Whenever your phone rings, walk and talk. Go for evening or morning walks. My best ideas comes when I walk ( never ever when I am seated…) or when I am showering!
– Buy a Fit bit band: 6 months back I purchased a Fitbit band and was shocked to realize I was taking less than 3,000 steps ( sedentary behaviour ). Few months later, I started averaging 7,000+ steps daily ( active behaviour ). But I somehow lost my band and then my step count started to decrease!
Yes, if you have a monitoring mechanism and can check at various intervals how you are doing you tend to do better. There are many cheap options available on amazon which are really good quality. GOQii is one such company and they are doing a great job!
If nothing else works, do this:
10) Pay your friend money every time you miss a session ( and make sure the amount is big enough that it should hurt every time you pay him/her ). This is the last resort, and it works all the time. Do this with a friend or anyone who cares about your success and will make sure you stick with your promise of either paying him or sticking with your workout session:)
What do you do to motivate yourself to exercise? Have anything you like to add? Let me know in the comments below!